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Can Link-bait Mature

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#1 iamlost


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Posted 20 October 2007 - 03:09 PM

Jennifer Laycock does it again with Viral Marketing is NOT the Same as Word of Mouth which illuminated my day with Seth Godin's 'word of mouth is a decaying function'. Both Ms. Layton's and the linked Mr. Godin's commentary are well worth reading.

What I should like to discuss is not the subject of those articles rather a thought process I had while reading them. Not a new thought - I am so old that I have thoughts to recycle or reuse as new...

* Current viral marketing has two main results: increased traffic from the initial marketing and increased backlinks which drive more traffic and can affect SERP.

* While much is made of the traffic surge(s) themselves often their minimal conversion percentage actually lowers ROI. The usual real benefit is an added weight of increased backlinks assisting SERP - in current algo settings.

* Occassional mention is made of the branding potential however branding is rarely a one-off return rather a function of repetition. How many viral campaigns are designed to impact the same audience time after time? How often is the 'brand' remembered in tandem the 'stunt'?

* Should the current algo weighting change, i.e. discounting blog links as they age, viral marketing would also become a 'decaying function' albeit much broader.

* for viral marketing to really possess longterm vitality it needs to forgo the current 'shotgun' approach of maximum traffic impact and narrow target focus to the highest converting traffic possible. Change from a 'tabloid' to a 'trade mag' approach, from link-bait to conversion-bait.

This raises several questions, among them: is it even possible? how could it be done - with the subsequent query of is there a general best practice across niches?

I believe that it should be :) possible and that done properly :P would efficiently raise brand awareness and increase both conversion number and percentage. Which would raise the value of viral marketing orders of magnitude.

Thoughts? Comments? Experiences? Links?

#2 bwelford


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Posted 20 October 2007 - 03:35 PM

That's an excellent topic, iamlost. It raised in my mind the question as to what really is viral marketing. In the best case it is associated with people wanting to pass on the news to others who in turn pass it on. People only pass on something when they get benefits in so doing. I would guess that this is even more applicable to conversion-bait as opposed to link-bait. If a respected friend mentions something to you, you are more likely to take notice and follow up the lead.




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Posted 20 October 2007 - 03:36 PM

I think that "viral" is a difficult concept to conceive and execute. Instead I think of useful, informative, authoritative, asthetic or other types of content - also difficult to conceive and execute, but which I think are of long term and lasting value -- plus better to associate with a dignified business. Maybe I am talking about low grade viral.

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 05:25 PM

Okay... I started to reply... then went back and re-read.

Rather than ranting on about it being bias... I decided to go shoot the horse in person :unsure:

Jsut so I know... do others agree with that article?
Do people view the term "viral" in that fashion?

#5 iamlost


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Posted 20 October 2007 - 06:10 PM

To further this conversation...know that the more things change the more they stay the same...

Whatever is common is despised. Advertisements are now so numerous that they are very negligently perused, and it is therefore become necessary to gain attention by magnificence of promises, and by eloquence sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetic.

Complete article...


#6 iamlost


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Posted 20 October 2007 - 06:22 PM

Autocrat: it really would be helpful if you could share your idea of what 'viral' is, how it is being used, and how it might be used or improved.

I certainly am looking to learn for pleasure and for profit and that is why I stated my thoughts and asked for a discussion. You have expressed many good opinions (not that I agree with them all :unsure:) in other threads and your input would be appreciated.

#7 BillSlawski


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Posted 20 October 2007 - 06:28 PM

I'm all for viral marketing, especially if it can produce efforts like this one:


#8 A.N.Onym


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Posted 20 October 2007 - 09:51 PM

I think Seth has put it simpler and more convincingly.

Edited by A.N.Onym, 20 October 2007 - 09:57 PM.

#9 BizDevMarketing


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Posted 21 October 2007 - 02:04 AM

IAmLost, this is an incredibly provocative topic, one that prompted me to do a little research as well. And while my knowledge isn't yet on par with more seasoned folk here, I'd love to contribute the following to the discussion in regards to my thought processes as well:

In the article cited above, Seth has convincely differntiated viral marketing from word-of-mouth, both in form and in outcome. I buy this. But is this a semantic argument?

Let's say for ease of reference that viral marketing is an umbrella term that describes any method of directly or indirectly transforming an audience into advertisers. This broad function can easily take several forms whether it's through popularization (as with the ressurgence of HushPuppies in the 80's brought about by villagers who deemed them trendy,) by direct reccomendation (word-of-mouth, chain letters, "tell-a-friend" scripts,) or by publicizing (social media/content sharing, forwarding links, etc.)

But the more I think about it, wouldn't this umbrella term encompass things like, say, affiliate marketing? Is a restaurant actively engaging in viral marketing when they provide great customer service that results in a recommendation? is Britney Spears viral marketing when she does crazy stuff that creates mass interest and results in big record sales? (Yes, I'll make this prediction ;) ) Is link bait viral marketing? And so forth.

That aside, I think viral marketing is effective to the degree that it appeals to either an audience's ego or their good nature. While this might seem broad or bold, it makes sense if you consider why someone would be promted to popularize, recommend or share.

Appeals to Goodwill:
- I.e. "I want to forward this cause so I'll forward this email petition."
- I.e. "You'll find this interesting or helpful so I'll send you this link."
- I.e. "I want to help figure this out, so let's all pool our resources." (Exemplified by this N.I.N Story- their fans have created message baords to figure this out.)

Appeals to Ego:
- I.e. "I want to be accepted so I'll buy HushPuppies too."
- I.e "You will think I'm really funny if I send you something really funny."
- I.e "If I link to the experts, I'll be an expert!"

So in this sense, I do think it's possible to narrow target focus to the highest converting traffic possible; by examining the sociobehavioral traits of a target audience and considering how they relate to the audience's incentive to buy a product/service. A very simple analogy would be the owner of a site that sells baby products publishing baby safety articles because they know Mother's LOVE to talk about their children, and a safety article wwill appeal to both their good nature to protect, and their ego need to provide something of value to their social circle. (Is this concept similar to what what you were referring to wth your "trade mag" comment?

I myself don't have a steadfast conclusion to the questions you pose, but here are a few very fascinating links:

Chapter 6 of Viral Media Living Document The Psychology of Viral Media

and an article on Gossip and Rumor Research, publsihed by the American Psychological Science Agenda

Edited by BizDevMarketing, 21 October 2007 - 02:08 AM.

#10 DCrx


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Posted 21 October 2007 - 06:03 AM

First, some history. All this goes back to a book I read a long time ago, Virus of the Mind:: The New Science of the Meme. It's part of what my site's about, Captology and Memetics.

Brodie's book, in turn, goes back to earlier ones. However, most of the relatively new interest in this came from Virus of the Mind.

And sorry, online or offline they all have decay rates. Using Seth Godin's assertion all humanity was wiped out by the 1918 flu pandemic. Simply put, it's not in the nature of viruses to work that way. And nothing in the base literature for memetics says it does.

If he were right, sale for his book would never peak. And, by about now, given the mathematical basis for his use of the word "compounding" -- about a billion people or more would own Godin's book Purple Cow. And by the end of next year, five hundred million more people would own it.

Because that's the practical implication of compounding without a decay rate. Viruses spread quickly, peak, and then decline. That's what it is to have a viral growth curve, and if it didn't happen that way it wouldn't be viral. It's a curve, not a straight line ... and it's not all up.

And it seems to be a recurring mental error for people on the internet to take the steep part of the curve and project it indefinitely. When the internet first hit, projections were that three billion people would be on the internet by 2001 or so. That would have to mean everyone who had access to a phone would also have access to the internet.

And, today, compounding without decay would have to mean more people are on the internet than ever lived in the history of humankind. That's mathematics, folks. While the internet may have warped people's ability to do simple math, it's hasn't changed mathematics. Only marketers can add two and two and come up with fifty billion.

The "Not The Same" article has one good point ....

Companies put together a standard advertising or marketing campaign and then call up a viral consultant with the request to "make" the campaign go viral.

Essentially a rehash of an old ClickZ article What Makes it Viral?.

Memetics For Conversions: The Hula Hoop

The History of the Hula Hoop: Sales of Twenty Million in the first six months. In two years they sold 100 Million Hula Hoops.

And all without the internet.

There is only one meme with that kind of success online: Viral Marketing. That's right, viral market itself is the one virus which has driven more sales of books, courses and seminars than any viral marketing campaign.

My dissatisfaction with these articles is most people don't acknowledge the basic methodology of captology or memetics. There simply are no new ideas here, except that online is somehow magically different.

Sorry again, that doesn't explain anything.

What makes online memetics seem different is the speed mind viruses spread. The biggest difference between online and offline is friction. Regular viral outbreaks are contained by mobility and topography. These are not factors online. In other words, you don't have to get into your car and travel to the water cooler at work, with the number of employees around the water cooler limited by physical constraints.

The physical constraints which limit viral outbreaks offline don't exist online. That does not in any way mean there aren't other factors which limit viral spread online.

Most things never die, online or off. When Fax was the network, you'd get a joke or whatever and it would die out. Then a few years later when memory fades, the same joke pops up. Hula hoops are in, then out, then every few years someone gives it a new wrinkle and hula hoops make the news again.

In viral marketing terms that wrinkle is called mutation. It's what you need to fight the natural decay rate, and it's again something no viral marketing expert will ever reveal. (I'll explain why at the end of this post).

About the only difference between online and offline is, for all the archiving, nobody remembers a single thing that happened more than a month ago. So you get essentially the same viral marketing article every single year. Almost every single one asserting online marketing is different.

Marketing online is different. You don't get 100 Million units sold of any product marketed virally online. Hence the discussion here about making linkbait convert. And I'll retract that statement and issue an apology if Seth Godin can show me records of 100 million units of any of his books sold in any two year period. Heck, I'll even extend it to three years.

Memetic Mechanics 101

Other than happy accidents dubbed viral in retrospect, has any viral marketing expert ever told you what makes something viral? That's because my site is almost the only place you can find methodologies that underlie the balloon juice passed off as viral marketing.

About the only element needing explanation is Zeitgeist. An example is "the internet changes everything." That's the approach taken with the article which kicked off the thread. That the internet is so radically different that nothing else compares. And anybody that disagrees with that statement simply doesn't grok how radical the internet is.

But you do.

This is the fiber and structure of the Emperor's New Clothes. If you don't see the Emperor's new clothes, you just don't get it, you're on the outside looking in. I call it inner circle appeal.

If you're interested, check out Cialdini's factors of influence, namely social proof, liking, authority.

Sorry, but human nature -- not the internet -- is the basic protein sequence of mind viruses. Sure they mutate, but none mutate to be based on silicon. Viruses travel via human nature. Nothing which happened in the last fifteen years has changed human nature enough to go from a point of word or mouth having a 'decay rate' and viral not having one.

The Trouble with Viral Marketing

The trouble with all this is not viral marketing, it is what kicked off this topic: conversions. Viral marketing online is mostly viral, marketing ...not so much.

First let's discuss linkbait. The payoff was never conversions, it was links and consequently SERP position. That's what linkbait means.

And that's the problem with all of viral marketing online, the viral getting separated from objectives for the viral. So you get a bill for huge upsurges in bandwidth costs, and few sales.

Other than feel good, "We online are sooo much more with it than those old school marketers." Sorry, but I'll take 100 million units sold over a bill for $5000 in bandwidth costs any day of the week.

When these people get off their tragically hip horse, they'll find we can all just get along.

You get these viral successes that produce financial calamities when the viral becomes detached from the marketing objective for the viral. Bioengineering uses viral delivery mechanisms all the time.

The payload -- a conversion -- is delivered virally when the purchase is part of the viral mechanism itself.

Understanding this is like understanding the difference between brand awareness and bankable brand preference. Brand awareness is where everyone knows you. Brand preference happens when everyone wants to buy your products once they know about them.

Companies have gone bankrupt thinking brand awareness and brand preference are the same thing.

For example, let's take a typical viral video on youtube. The way most people do it is showing someone doing a backflip. Provided that's novel enough, people spread the word. And more people see the video.

Now, for most viral efforts, it begins and ends there. It's cute, it's gimmicky, and ....nothing.

Viral for conversions is different. You have a reason for showing a person doing a backflip. You show that the way you tailor your clothing, doing a backflip with an iPhone in your pocket will not produce a $400 jigsaw puzzle. Then, people who want to do similar videos have to buy your stuff.

Take the Mentos and Coke. Had either company been on the ball, you would have seen joint venture marketing within hours of the video showing interest. You would have a cosponsored website directly traceable to the marketing departments of Coke and Mentos. The whole idea of marketing is that you tried to get a result. You can have a happy viral accident, but nobody can call the Coke + Mentos viral marketing because nobody meant for that to happen.

Worse yet, nobody calling themselves a marketer seems to have acknowledged or capitalized on it once it did happen.

Most of these "viral marketing" happenings are simply accidents. Marketers -- old school marketers all -- are simply taking credit for happy accidents and dubbing them "viral" in hindsight.

If you can make a marketing career from crossing your fingers and hoping the customers will bail you out, consistently and time-after-time, please write a book about that. Don't confuse it with viral marketing.

Designing Products to Go Viral

The number one thing you can do to say "I meant for it to happen like that" and take marketing credit is to redesign your product or service.

The number one thing testing shows is that hackability creates a viral hit. Right now, Apple seems to be sending mixed signals about your ability to do certain things with the iPhone.

For this to be an ideal viral marketing campaign, you would make it just difficult enough to change over the iPhone to work with other networks to make customers think 1) They got away with something 2) That they are skilled enough to be part of an elite, hip, hacker culture.

You can't Make anything go viral. However, such elements like design for hackability increase your odds that something will go viral. And while you can't take credit for 100% of the end result, you can at least have a credible claim on meaning for it to happen.

Designing things to be hackable, for mashups, and so on is something no so-called viral marketer will talk about for one reason. Almost to a person, male or female, they don't know what they are talking about.

Edited by DCrx, 21 October 2007 - 09:20 AM.

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 08:08 AM

(Second time around - obviously the HDD wasn't in the freezer long enough!)

My apologies - I simply didn't want to slap up all my thoughts as they where rather negative towards the aticle.
Note the topic, but how it applied spin to everything and used bias examples to further it's own purpose, (examples that I view as wholly incorrect and inaccurate).

Still - as that was unfair to the rest here - I will now dump the ideas down in general ;)

The article was very well contrived and angled - written in the traditional aspect of a sales piece. It was not fair, it was not accurate and it was wholly biased to support it's own view.

Stating the Word of Mouth is not Viral is an absolute hoot.
If you look at the term Viral, it is the Behaviour taht is being described, not the Form or the Life Span/HalfLife.
Viral means that it nbehaves in a certain fashion, and is transmitted and received in a certain fashio. These can vary greatly, and may also include additional behaviours, such as becoming dormant and thus increasing the LifeSpan, or Mutation, thus making it more transmittable/Receivable.

When looking at the pattern of how a Virus spreads, then stating the Word of Mouth doesn't fit that pattern, it shows that they do not understand the terminology or words they are using.
Word of Mouth is a prime example of Viral Transmission of knowledge, thoughts, ideas and views.
Look at Racism, Sexism and Political views - these are all originally handle with Word of Mouth. Further, these tend to have been around for a damn long time, and often "float around" for great lenths to before becoming fully active again.

Stating that Word of Mouth suffers a much shorter LifeSpan and is not as as easily Transferable is also completely untrue.
What about Jesus Christ/Muhammed/Buddha?
What about Martial Arts?
Who is Jack the Ripper?
What about Princess Diana?
These are all still discussed today.
Now, there are those that will claim that these are supported y other means - the written word etc. I would say fair enough - but I know that before much of those words were written... they were discussed.
Further, Many MA's where around for over 200 Hundred years, solely as Word of Mouth and Verbal istruction, long before beig put down on paper etc. Same can be ssid for many of hte original Religions - even those that have smostly died out or become mythology - they weren't written - tey were spoken.

It is not the medium/method of conveyance that really makes something potent, it is the topic/item self.
Look at certain adverts - the coffee gold blend adverts went on for ages, and people discussed them more than certain soaps for the duration of that campaign - and it raised sales dramatically!
Clever adverts and thought provoking adverts create damn fine viral marketing, as we tend to discuss them and talk about them - cticise and examine them.
That makes them viral. That makes them word of mouth.

Further - please tell me the difference... the recommendation of a close familly/friend, or a stranger o the net who your "read" every week or so?
The only real difference is that were as word of mouth is transmitted directly from person to person, digital and still forms (blogs and billboard posters) tend to get multiple carriers through "visual cotact" (much like someone sneezing and then toughing a phone or a door handle).
So the only real difference is that one lends itself to "static" and the other to "cloud burst" or smaller loci transmission.

There are two main approaches to writing something - you can take the Essay approach, which means you tackle the subject in general objectively, looking at the various potential factors and weighing each agaist the other as fairly as possible, or, you write for a sales pitch (monetary, political etc.), and do so subjectively, only making any reference to the other potentates with the aim of using there negatives to reinforce your subjective positives.

That article was a sales piece, and had no real impartial information in it at all - it is there for Spin only.
Though they may state that there is a difference, examine their ideals for what Viral is and how it differes.
Encourage Visitors/Users/Clients/Customers to stay with good information/service, awards, loyalty rewards etc. Make them purchase/buy based on Social/Cultural/political/emotional trends/weakenesses....
Sorry - haven't we been using hose for the last 100 years already in Marketing and Advertising?
Find your target sector, find how to approach them, provide what they desire/need, or create the desire/need with advertising.
Hardly new or awe inspiring IMO.

Well - ther you go - all my opiniion and from my experiences/knowledge.

For a damn fine write up, that I only 90% agree with (the other 10% is held in reserve due to psychological view differences), re-read the post above by ...DCrx...

Edited by Autocrat, 21 October 2007 - 08:33 AM.

#12 bwelford


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Posted 21 October 2007 - 10:23 AM

Wow, some great thoughts expressed here.

I found your piece excellent, DCrx. I would take issue only on one fundamental, but I believe it probably makes your main argument even stronger. I believe the Internet is different from the traditional physical word-of-mouth space in two respects.

First there is no distance on the Internet. Everyone of us is right next to everyone else. Birds can fly miraculously in huge flocks and turn all at once as if there was no distance between any of them since the message passes instantaneously. The Internet works like that. It's much faster than "I told two friends, and they told two friends, etc."

The other factor is that you can spread the word on the Internet at almost zero effort. You may have a button to confirm your strong support of something or to send a link in an e-mail. Often with two clicks you've done it. The meme is passed and it didn't take any effort.

I think both of these factors support your notion that it's very easy to get viral and that in no way points to starting a conversion process. For the latter, something else is required.

#13 DCrx


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Posted 21 October 2007 - 10:58 AM

Actually, we agree on this point. That's what I was trying to get at with this passage...

The biggest difference between online and offline is friction. Regular viral outbreaks are contained by mobility and topography. These are not factors online. In other words, you don't have to get into your car and travel to the water cooler at work, with the number of employees around the water cooler limited by physical constraints.

Friction = zero effort.

Yes or no, I'll count myself lucky to get to 90% or so. ....It's a really long post with lots of points, I couldn't have gotten every little thing right.

I notice that many viral marketing people never cite tests or history. Or, acknowledge there are actually contests of viral marketing campaigns, who the entries were, who won, and/or why. Right or wrong, whatever I say can be broken out into elements and tested. You can look up a factoid and I'm either close, wrong, right or misinterpreting something.

Nothing most viral marketers ever say can ever be tested. After reading the article you can't say, hey, I'm going to give that a try. There is literally nothing to try ...except the koolaid.

Seems like you can be a viral marketer by making unprovable claims that nobody can call you on.

Edited by DCrx, 21 October 2007 - 11:03 AM.

#14 iamlost


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Posted 21 October 2007 - 11:36 AM

I had an ulterior motive for initiating this thread as written:

There were two very different pieces of information in the original post.
1. mention of two articles with a link to one.
2. the topic I actually wished to address.

Several people simply got hung up on the articles paragraph and seemingly never got to my 'real' topic content. A reminder why no email should ask more than one question, no web page should address more than one term-family, no forum thread should raise more than one topic.:)

It was a nice natural segue - hey I was reading this interesting stuff and it made me wonder about these other things - nice human common bloggart approach which crashed and burned the conversion percentage big time.

A major thank you to DCrx for reminding me of a few things and bringing up whole new points of investigation. I ask some questions you write a thesis summary. Excellent. :thumbs:

Seems like you can be a viral marketer by making unprovable claims that nobody can call you on.

This ia main reason I opened the discussion - to separate the wheat from the chaff. You have certainly tossed topic up in the air - now to supply some wind?

Off to do some research and thinking... :study:

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 12:13 PM


I'm confused.

First there is no distance on the Internet. Everyone of us is right next to everyone else. Birds can fly miraculously in huge flocks and turn all at once as if there was no distance between any of them since the message passes instantaneously. The Internet works like that. It's much faster than "I told two friends, and they told two friends, etc."

Firstly, how is that different than someone making a call to friends, or conference calling in business to discuss a newly breached area?
Secondly, it is only "instantaneous" if peole are looking at it - if it's sits there for a while, dormant, then it is not active... which equestes to when peole are not talking to each other.

LOL - well, that got my attention... so I re-read your original post.
I don't think it's possible - as technically "viral Marketing" doesn't actually exist.
You can aim for such a result - but it strongly relies on the content and the readership/viewers!
If you know your ordiances interestest, and know what makes them tick, then you should get higher view rates - if you ca provide enough incentive, (be it provocative, invoking, useful, with some form of reward or a mix of some/all these), then you should increase the response/purchase/conversion rates as well as the readership/view rates.

Of course - these are the main goals anyway in most businesses (or should be).
You want strong content that is of interest to the viewers, you want them to refer others, you want them to come back and you want them to take action (purchase, sign up etc.)... same goals as normal :)

Don't mention "best practice" as you get some funny resposnes ;)

As to how to achieve it... make your quality content available on other sites as well as your own.
Find some other sites that would display it and link to you/yours.
That means a greater chance of a greater audience.
It should also improve the LifeSpan considerably (more spore points for the "virus" :) ).

I cannot see how anything such as this could be "gaurenteed" as anything to do with readership/SE/response is very, very flexible and can change at a moments notice.
Still, follow the common standards and trends, provide the high quality, and you may get what you are after, (ut may range from a tiny little head cold through to full blown TBthoguh - no gaurentees on how potent the virus would be ;) )

#16 AbleReach


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Posted 21 October 2007 - 06:31 PM

IMHO viral is a subset of word of mouth.

Viral = awareness achievable by link bait, gossip, rumor, chatty stuff not necessarily linked to trusting the source, may not have staying power, can be in one ear and out the other.

Word of mouth = may also include awareness achievable by reputation, usually linked to trusting or knowing the source in some way, often or usually has staying power, can become a foundation.

[ideavirus] gets 200,000 results on Google because it is a subset of Viral/WOM. "Viral marketing" shows up 2,000,000 times in Google and "ideavirus", one name for part of the phenomenon, shows up 200,000 times. Sounds pretty normal to me.

#17 iamlost


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Posted 24 October 2007 - 06:14 PM

Lisa Barone has taken this thread topic up in her latest post Can Link Bait Mature? Yes, It Has To.

She takes the title thought of Susan Esparza's general best practice overview link magnet article (May 2006) and hones it sharp:

The key to creating a great link magnet is research. When we talk to people about creating an effective link magnet, we often advise them to take a look at their industry. What tools do they use every day to do their job? Better yet, what’s that one thing you always complain about not having? What magical tool or resource or mashup or page do you think would make your life or job easier? Why don’t you go ahead and make your life easier and create it? And then share it with everyone else.

I like the bait - magnet differential she infers where one needs a hook behind the bait because the bait itself has limited value and the magnet naturally holds as well as attracts. A 2-for-1 deal! I bet Susan thought it up. :)

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 05:02 AM

Okay - I'm going to ask as I may ahve the wrong end of the stick... or possibly even the wrong stick on this one.

Link Bait/ing
The process of supplying articles/bloggs/pieces/media that is to draw attention and gain readers.
The pupose of which is to encourage those reading to attend a particualr site or page of a site.

Basically, it's a step or so up from a simple link.
Instead of the "click here", you give them some food for thought or a little taster, and hopefully they go to the "horses mouth" to see more or find out more about what the original piece was talking about.

I keep thinking of things like about.com - to me, those are often little tid bits and information snap shots to give a general answer or a specific answer to a small topi, with links to associated pieces, and often to the original source for more details.... links that are baited.

Is my view/understand correct?
(If not, please correct me, at least to the point that I'm on the right stick... and preferably not the sticking end :))

Following my logic (which may be applied to the wrong end/stick)...

This is no different than people provising article pieces in magazines to promote their books, encourage readers to their shops etc.
It's "Attention Media" or "Marketed Info-mercials".

I'm failing to understand how people can make assumptions about readership, link followers and conversions.
Surely we would be following the same strategies and ideals that we do for all Advertising/MArketing ploys and processes;
Know your Target
Know your Market
Appeal to one of the fundemental senses
Encourage further action
Provide reqward for taking action.

I thought everyone followed those steps in such fields, as they are the basic principals...
you advertise a product
you extoll it's values for certain folk
make it look/sound right for the market
invite them to Test it/Take it/Purchase it
and will give them X% off, a 2nd one for free etc.

Have we not been doing this for over 40 Years in various markets?

So, rather than using Adverts/Comercials - we have stepped over the line of "blatant commercialism" to the subtler garden of "friendly information" -
we provide something of interest
give a little more than they may already know
enable them to follow a link to find out more
provide some sort of deal, offer etc. once at the desired destination

I'm not seeing any real difference...?

Additioanlly... I would have thought it obvious, the more focused and narrow a group you are marketiing too, the more specific you details, information, ideas or offers, the higher the coversions will be.
It is not the amount of readers/follwoers, but the quality of them - having 1000 hits in a day is alright, but no good to you if you only get 10 purchases/signups/enquiries etc. If you only get 50 readers and followers, due to it being a very specific piece, then the likely hood is that they ahve follwoed out of genuine interest and want or reward... so you are likely to get a higher conversion rate.

Of course, as I said, I may be viewing this wrong...

#19 ExtravagantMedia


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Posted 15 January 2008 - 07:35 AM

Link bait can be a great page rank catalyst.
So you create some humorous content that has absolutely no chance of monetizing.
It gets pounded with traffic because people keep sending it around and linking to it.
Those links increase that particular page's PR rating. You then link from that site to an intermediary page or
directly to your destination page. If you use an intermediary page as a buffer it will cost you 1 point of Page Rank
to do so. (Sort of... the math doesn't work exactly like this but I've simplified it for human consumption.)

#20 Ruud


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Posted 15 January 2008 - 12:34 PM

The only point where word of mouth and viral marketing intersect is that both use humans to spread the message.

But what is being spread why and how differs tremendously.

Word of Mouth Advertising

Word or mouth advertising is reputation based: the product or service is talked about. "Happy Eaters makes great lasagna", "Did you read the latest Stephen King?!", "I can't believe their prices...".

As it is product or service based, hopefully extending all the way to your brand, the reach of the message is limited to those involved with or interested in this product, service or brand.

Word of mouth advertising is quite indirect up to the point of being a passive strategy. You make, do or price at a level that causes people to bring you up in a conversation, either for the good or the bad.

In other words, your primary medium is your product/service/brand and the people (customers) are your message.

Viral Marketing

Viral marketing is rumor based: the message is talked about. "Did you see the new BMW Short?", " I'm all for viral marketing, especially if it can produce efforts like this one" (note the lack or product/service/brand?), "I have no clue who made this but this is funny!", etc.

Because a viral ad goes beyond the product/service/brand up to the point of almost ignoring it completely, the reach is much deeper: anyone who finds pets/animals/dogs/funny stuff cute gets the Taco Bell chiwawa videos forwarded.

In other words, the primary message is the ad (video/print/game/etc.) and people (customer or not) become your medium.

Offline Example

An offline view brings it into perspective for me.

With word of mouth my friend arrives, address of a restaurant scribbled of a note; "here, you should really go there -- amazing coffee!"

With viral marketing my friend arrives with a print ad he has cut out of a magazine, shows it to me and says; "isn't that funny/amazing/well done?"


Viral marketing can and does have goals, objectives. Brand awareness and brand perception are two examples.

Another objective can be increase of links.

Linkbait is a form of viral marketing which goal is to increase the number of links to a web site. If it succeeds in doing that, the goal/objective is reached.

Linkbait can be very effective in increasing the number of links to a site: in this regard there's no need to wait for it to "mature".

The content or form of linkbait is something where you might see more maturity or finesse -- but not in its objective or success in reaching it.

Viral Marketing & Marketing

Most of these "viral marketing" happenings are simply accidents. Marketers -- old school marketers all -- are simply taking credit for happy accidents and dubbing them "viral" in hindsight.

Viral marketing is what it is when the intent is to be viral. That viral campaign can than either be succesful or not but the intent for it to be viral is not accidental.

"Old school" marketing seldom has "viral" as the objective. They don't expect you to show up at your friend's place with a Xerox-ad ripped out of a magazine, going "look at this man!"

Some ads "click", some don't. That doesn't make (old school) marketing and advertising completely "accidental".

Similarly, viral marketing, whether the campaign "clicks" or not, goes through a lot of steps to create this "natural" behavior. Dan Ackerman Greenberg has created a jewel of a post, The Secret Strategies Behind Many "Viral" Videos, which gives some understanding of how much work goes into making a "viral" video campaign, for example.

On a smaller scale, anyone who has experimented with social media knows that making something a hit is work -- and that a lot of "hits" that you see are by no means accidental.

Toy NY, together with EVB, created 20 microsites for OfficeMax -- among them elfyourself.com. Nothing in that setup, from the creation of the sites to injecting the URL's into conversations, was accidental, in my opinion. The staggering popularity of elfyourself.com vs. the other sites (like yesimworking.com) *that* is a surprise and *that* might have been accidental.

#21 AbleReach


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Posted 15 January 2008 - 02:49 PM

Toy NY, together with EVB, created 20 microsites for OfficeMax -- among them elfyourself.com. Nothing in that setup, from the creation of the sites to injecting the URL's into conversations, was accidental, in my opinion. The staggering popularity of elfyourself.com vs. the other sites (like yesimworking.com) *that* is a surprise and *that* might have been accidental.

Serendipity can be accidental. Luck can be accidental. Being in place to take advantage of serendipity is paradigm plus lifestyle, leading to a lot of foundation being in place.

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