Create Linkbait like you are Channeling Elmore Leonard, adding Hookers and Xbox along the way

This week one of my favourite writers, Elmore Leonard died.

His work makes for a great read. His stories flowed like an electric eel going down the Alton Towers log flume. Along with James Ellroy and other American writers he really helped me nail my writing and ultimately my linkbait.

What these guys do is reach down deep into the brain and bring it to the open and do it with wit and intelligence.

I wrote a story back in 2008, some of you will remember it, some of you may not have heard about it.

It got a lot of attention.

ralph3

Some people did not like what I did and even went to the extreme of saying I should go to prison for it.
Matt Cutts even made me the subject of a Keynote talk about such marketing tactics.
All for few hundred words of pure fiction.

What I learned from that time is the power of the written (OK typed, but written sounds better) word and how it can be used to get people to react.

I don’t know if it was the biggest linkbait ever, it got 10K links and mentions in every mainstream media I can think of. But it’s certainly one that people don’t forget.

One of the puritanical nutters who at the time were saying that such work is the spawn of Satan just reminded me of it.

The story is quite simple.I had a short story knocking around my head that I had not used when I was in my creative writing, poverty induced period. I had a client that wanted some linkbait so I wrote it as spoof news and posted it. With zero indication that it wasn’t actual news, it was blatant and beautiful hoax.

As the piece was written in a ” too good to be true, this is nuts mode”, I expected people to quickly figure out it was not proper news and just a bit of fun. This did not happen, you see the article what designed to engage with the primal brain, it was littered with psychological hooks that would keep people reading and keep people thinking long after.

And it worked.

Back in the day, getting a front page digg was all you needed to do to launch a bit of linkbait, nowadays it’s a bit more fractured, but still doable.

A mainstream journalist picked it up and of course did not check the story, rewrote it and put it in their newspaper. With of course no accreditation to where it came from.

And then it kind of went mental.

It was picked up by as many people as I could even think of and I had people contacting me from places like Greece, saying they heard it on the radio.

The results were huge.

And then, just as that was dying down, Matt Cutts hinted that Google was not going to allow websites to benefit from stories that are not true. And of course things went mental again, with a good write up about this from Lisa Barone.

Which was bigger news than the original story.

The debate over if this kind of marketing was ethical or not raged for weeks, with a number of people foaming at the mouth doing their “burn the witch” routine.

Planting an untrue story in the media is, I agree unethical. But when it’s crafted as a funny story that hurts no one, does not sell a product and includes Texan’s of restricted growth trying to get laid, Hookers and pizza delivery, less so. It’s completely missing the point to start thinking along the ethical/unethical argument.

What is far more interesting is how the human brain craves a good story and how newspapers create not-exactly-true stories. And Google loves this, it gives these newspapers huge authority, to the point where SEO agencies have to buy links in the online version of the newspaper, planting a story that promotes their client.

Here is Fox news doing a piece on the story.

And Simon Mayo did a bit on Radio 1


I don’t talk about this stuff publicly anymore, not because I am ashamed and think it unethical, I am extremely proud of the work, and as for it being unethical, well that’s just silly.

I don’t talk about this because it’s a technique that most cannot do well. Some can and a lot of people have contacted me privately to tell me of how they created a completely faked story that got traction in the news media.

Something like this is extremely sophisticated and hard to pull off, although it happens more than you realise it and yes, I have done a few of these since.

Now I mostly consult with companies how to utilise content marketing for their websites and create content that gets publicity. You note I did not say links, because its people you need to target, not links. The links come after you attract the people, not the other way round.

I do sometimes talk about this marketing event on Linkbaitcoaching.com as I am able to teach the technique in a more detailed way. A number of people I have coached have gone on to create thousands of links using it.

In conclusion, if you are going to create linkbait. You may as well write it about a 13 year old boy coming back from a World of Warcraft tournament who wants to score chicks and play Xbox.

And if you want to know more about this, Google it, go read all about it, good and bad and then join linkbaitcoaching.com to learn how to implement such techniques into your content.

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.

linbait-v-contentmarketing

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.

 

Nissan Datsun Newsjacking alert

Example 1 of a Newsjacking alert from the forthcoming Newsjacking Alert service

The niche is the automotive industry, but could be used for any niche if you have the right angle. We find content works best when it’s a similar niche, but if now relevant news is around you can still get a great bit of content created that is triggered by something that is outside your niche.

This piece of news from the BBC website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23313271

It was one of the marques that helped Japanese carmakers establish themselves in Europe and the US.In the 1970s, the fuel efficient Datsun became the car of choice for the everyday motorist fed up with unreliable gas-guzzlers.

Now, more than 30 years after Nissan decided to kill off the brand, the Datsun has been reborn.

On Monday, a new model was unveiled in India aimed at first-timers keen to get on the car-owning ladder.

The new 1.2-litre five-seat hatchback will go on sale in India next year for under 400,000 rupees ($6,670; £4,500). It will also be sold in Indonesia and Russia.

The Nissan Datsun used to be the favourite of minicab driver back in the day.

You can see the attached screenshot for Google trends and the increased interest.

datsun

Cotnent deas:

  • 10 Reasons the Nissan Datsun was the best car to steal
  • 10 Why you could never get a girl whilst driving a Datsun
  • 10 Ways the New Nissan Datsun will make a great limo.

Note: The idea is to get the keywords into the title so that the freshly indexed content will soak up some of the increased searches. You want to give an added element to the story to allow further media content to pick up your story and refer to you.

Further ideas:
Try to find the oldest man ever to own a Datsun
People who have been born in a Datsun
Celebrity owners

Further links:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2…d-india-russia
http://www.carmagazine.co.uk/News/Se…-new-city-car/
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-0…hatchback.html
http://www.autoblog.com/2013/07/15/d…india-w-video/
http://blogs.wsj.com/corporate-intel…of-the-datsun/

The Secret to Ranking a Website in Google

This is a great time for people building great content on the web.

After reading the interview with Google engineer Matt Cutts and expert SEO Eric Enge, it confirms to me the content that people want will be the ultimate factor in whether or not a website will rank.

Yes of course there will still be those anomalies which a clever SEO can exploit, but it would be  foolish to base a business on hunting down the latest thing that Google has not yet fixed.

There is nothing really new in the interview, although it is a great interview and ties together a bunch of methodologies that have been working for sometime.

  1. We all know that we should have an effective social media following on places like Twitter.
  2. We all know that we need to be producing content that is better than any other content which is currently available to the reader.
  3. We all know we should create synergy between all content and online communication output.

So nothing new there.

But how many of us really implement this? When I want something to happen I write a blog post, do a bit of Tweeting, a bit of emailing, a bit of commenting etc., until I get the result.

I already have my processes set in place, I am already a member of various online social tribes – I have my own gang of trusted creative rebels on which I can call upon. I already know my market and what is needed and more importantly how to get people to be attracted, engaged and then what will get them to react.

Which of course I should know having been doing this for quite some time now and having the good fortune to work with some brilliant, clients in a variety of sectors. Getting the client to do what is needed is the hardest part of the equation as results are not obvious before the process begins.

Even though I can show that doing something very specific like producing an infographic on going to Mars can get high quality editorial links from the likes of Wired.com, Mashable.com etc. It still takes large amounts of energy to create presentations that leads the client along the path.

But the client thing is a tangent and not crucial to the core thing being discussed.

What is important

I think it helps if we think along the lines of publishing something popular, than creating quality content. Quality is a relative term and means different things to different people, whereas we can easily define popularity.

Popular content, not quality content.

This is my experience over the 15 years I have been creating web pages to get links out of people. It’s that you need to be creating content that people really, really want to consume.

Thing is, most of those in my industry are more interested in paying a writer £15 to produce an article than £1,500.

Which is absolutely fantastic, because you are competing with people who only have enough juice to get up half of the hill. If you “get it”, you can dominate. That is the secret.

What’s also interesting is that the regular business person finds it hard to get to grasps with the aspects of content marketing, yes I know there are success stories out there, but relative to their whole sector they are tiny. The second secret is that this will always be the case.

There will always be opportunity for those who can create popular content

People in my industry, and I am one of them, are always babbling on about the latest technological advancement in blogging or social media. It becomes this huge wall of noise, and mostly it’s relatively unimportant as it’s not the technology that attracts. It’s the content

It’s the content

It’s one thing of course to define and understand this, another thing completely to implement it in a fashion that delivers an effective ROI. Which is where I tap my 15 years experience in the industry, I have seen and studied huge numbers of real time campaigns that have both succeeded and failed in this time.

A very, very small percentage of websites out there currently implement best practice content marketing, seo, blogging, social media etc. You may not think so because you spend all your time only consuming the good stuff and so think that is all what exists.

Local is getting very tasty

When you talk to the people who are experts in local online marketing, it gets very interesting. As it doesn’t seem to take that much investment for a local business to get a good ROI out of local online marketing. Obviously this is because of the geographical parameters being fixed, and that is not going to change.

Local requires a change in the mind set, but at its basic it is a similar methodology to the huge corporate beast.

Getting it Tabloid

To the people who I personally coach in this area, I tell them to think like the Economist and create like the Sun, newspaper. To be a dealer and not an addict. To think about the reader as being hungry for a specific type of content and simply creating that content and promoting it.

It’s simplistic, but the complexity is in the cultural awareness and defining the thing that people want at that specific time. It’s impossible for the business person running a plumbing supplies website for example. They do not have time to sit on Reddit, Twitter or consume the latest from Huffpo or find that smaller story that fits their niche perfectly.

You need an experienced, culturally aware individual who understands what gets people to link and create social signals and how that folds in to the websites brand development.

Even I can only count about 30 – 40 people who can do this to the required level.  Most of them are highly creative, maverick social rebels types. Most freelance and wouldn’t be caught dead working the 9-5 in house or for an agency. Not that in-house, or agency people can’t do this, but it’s not for people who crave security or who can only operate if they have a defined working structure.

The creativity needs to flow in an environment that is unstable from a business POV or at least looks wonky when you look at it through a business lens.

If you find one of these creative geniuses who can connect all the different parts and implement, delivering and effective ROI, make sure you give them what they want to work on your stuff. Do not let them go over to the opposition, because it’s really hard to find these types of people as they are rare.

If they are aware of their value then you will need to pay premium rates, but if your business model is set up to soak up extra business then it’s worth it. I cannot tell you how many client servers I have crashed because of all the traffic I send clients.

If you want personal coaching help with this stuff I am available for hire. Plus I have a lower cost option for coaching over at Linkbait Coaching I am also launching a Content marketing magazine for the iPad and a Newsjacking email alert service, sign up to the email list for more news on this.

You can also follow me on Twitter and Google+

 

 

 

 

 

Why Kittens Should be part of your Content Marketing

Most read story right now on the BBC Kitten Found on Tube Train

Now before you put your angry young man hat on for people not caring more about Syria, NHS, Global warming etc. just remember that life is pretty crap most of the time. Yes it does have it’s highlights like superfast broadband, but mostly it’s grim and tiresome.

So people need a distraction from the hideousness, they need to laugh or have their emotion changed from rage to empathy.

Yes some linkbait tactics focus anger and use it to get the link, but being nice and fluffy can also get links.

Don’t diss the kitten.

Remember you are a dealer, not an addict.

 

This post was previously publishing on LinkbaitCoaching.com