Why Linkbait and Content Marketing are Basically the same thing

A recent post on Mashable on entitled, “Stop Linkbait Before it Ruins Content Marketing” by Sam Slaughter.


OMG, you mean Content Marketing can be ruined?

I have two positive things to say about this. First, what a cool name, “Sam Slaughter”. A quick whiz around the intertubes reveals quite a few Sam Slaughters though. The part of me that looks out of the window to stare into the distance yearns for one of them to be working in an abattoir whilst secretly writing crime fiction.

Second positive thing, it’s a great headline. Ironically baiting those who wave both the Linkbaiting flag and the Content Marketing flag. People usually get excited about such stuff when it is relative to the amount of food they can throw on the table after a day hunting on the Internet hinterland.

I love how it suggests that Linkbait should or even can be stopped, as if it’s a rampaging, well hung bull smashing through the delicate china of the content marketing shop.

And ruining “content marketing”, that’s very interesting. No, I am not being sarcastic, I really mean it. Because it is setting up a very interesting narrative in the brain. What the headline is actually doing is pandering to opposing prejudices and then exciting them in different ways. Very clever stuff.

If you are a content marketing flag waver you will feel indignant that the backstreet ruffian, Linkbait is going to ruin the Golden Goose that is content marketing. If you are a Linkbaiter you will feel indignant that any will stop Linkbait working and that the deity of media communications will throw the switch and make Linkbait work no more.

But are you thinking what I am thinking?

This article is a piece of very good linkbait, the kind of which Mashable has been built on.

Sam poses the question.

How do we create standards that ensure the quality of content stays high?

It’s quite simple Mr. Slaughter, we don’t.

There is already a mechanism for the ensuring the quality of content stays high and that is if the techniques work or not. I am in the business of training people to create content which is attractive, engaging and gets a reaction. If it does not fulfill this basic criteria then it fails.

We can label a piece of media communications linkbait, content marketing, spin or whatever, but what we call these labels are mostly for selling books, membership sites, and for the writing of Mashable headlines. Even Sam points out that such labels are vague:

The problem is that “content,” in this context, is so ill-defined and poorly understood that unscrupulous content creators flood the web with low-quality schlock meant to appeal to base online instincts. Or, as I heard someone ask recently:

The problem is that “content,” in this context, is so ill-defined and poorly understood that unscrupulous content creators flood the web with low-quality schlock meant to appeal to base online instincts. Or, as I heard someone ask recently, “Does content marketing have a side-boob problem?”

Lets ignore the fact I have no idea what a “side-boob problem” is and confirms that I do not run with the uber hip neoglogistic crowd. No professional Linkbaiter of Content marketer is interested in  ” low-quality schlock”, because it simply does not work long term and it’s the long term where the big payoff lays

These articles are useful as they force us to question what the labels actually mean and discover what is working when it comes to persuasion communication.

Persuasion Communication, is the fundamental term we should be using, but it doesn’t scan and it isn’t fluffy. The term sits under the aim of nearly all media that we see every say.  We write and create media to persuade the reader on a number of levels.

I must say though, the mashable article did raise the ire of some of the linkbaiters on Linkbait Coaching. Which created a great learning opportunity.

It’s all about the Comments

I find the comments of blog posts a very interesting place to understand the mind set of people in the space.  The comments on this post reveal a savvy audience.

Mxx points out:

Linkbaiting..you mean like today Mashable’s:

15 Young Adult Books Every Adult Should Read
14 Tips to Nail Down Demographics
11 Words We Learned on the Wienermobile
10 TMI Parent Moments on Facebook
11 Musical Vine Videos That’ll Get Stuck in Your Head
10 Mom Blogs Full of Inspiring Advice

and Andre Dubreuil says:

I find it highly ironic to read an article decrying link baiting on Mashable and I’m sure I’m not the only one. There’s hardly any room for real articles on this site among all the insignificant top x lists and Google+ is a ghost town kind of rehashed nonsense that is found in here at the best of time

Which gives me hope that the crowd gets the concepts behind this post and understands the fundamentals at work here.

Although I must confess I am regarded more as a linkbaiter, than a content marketer, I find the terms interchangeable and which one I use depends more upon the person I am speaking to and their mind set.

Is it me or have the articles on Mashable got better recently, or perhaps I only notice the stuff I want to notice. It’s still a great place to go and learn a few things and whilst engaging writers like Sam Slaughter are hanging out there I will be reading.


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