Linkbait Failure – Not Understanding the Need For Instant Gratification

Whenever I see someone else’s linkbait that fails, one of the common reasons is the failure to understand the need for instant gratification. I came across a text book example of this recently so I thought I would share it with you.Like my evil twin brother, Machu Picchu is on my bucket list of places to see before I die. It’s this mystical spiritual place up in the mountains of Peru. It’s made up of ancient Inca buildings and terraced plateaus. It takes at least 3 days to get there and back, and the views from it are simply breathtaking (click any of the pics below to enlarge).

Machu Picchu in the mistMachu Picchu Farming TerracesLlama enjoying view from Machu PicchuRope Bridge on Machu Picchu Trail

I came across an article from the LA Times “100 facts for 100 years of Machu Picchu“. Great! I love Machu Picchu, and I may know some things about it, but with 100 facts, I’m sure there will be at least one or two new things I’ll learn. When I clicked through, I was presented with exactly one fact … seriously!  The site is running a series with 100 different posts–each with 1 fact. While I have gone on record as saying that creating a series is an effective strategy for building loyal readers, that post ignored the need people have for instant gratification.

As Michael Strong of Blueglass recently wrote about in “Linkbait Fulfilling Your Titles Promise”, if you set my expectation for 100 facts but only give me 1, I’m going to feel cheated/depressed/let-down. The chances that I’m going to “share” your content across Email, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, or Stumbleupon just dropped to near zero. I wrote about something similar a few years ago, “When Your Title is Linkbait But Your Post Isn’t“. Writing a title creates “a deal” with the user. They should never have a “Don’t Make Me Think Moment” and wonder what your post is about, and they should find whatever your title “promises”.

Some simple concepts I try to share with anyone I talk with about creating great linkbait:

  • Make a strong impression right off the bat. It can be with words, video, or pictures (see using images for Linkbait), but you need to “hook” people in the first few seconds. Saving the best for last only works when people know who you are, like Steven Spielberg.
  • Your content needs to be exceptional if you want me to share it and do your content marketing for you. Everyday people have hundreds of things, all competing for their attention. If you want to “catch someone’s eye,” you need to be aware of that competition. Hat tip to Gabe Rivera.
  • While it may be very important to you that I like/upvote/share your content, you need to make it important to me. Don’t ever confuse your love of something with the need for Google Traffic . You need to create the “you know who would really like this …” or “I really have to share this with …” type of experience/feeling.

You should think of creating and marketing linkbait as an Olympic Level competition for content creation. Stand out with a catchy, funny, witty, shocking, or otherwise compelling title. Your content should be captivating and grab my attention in my first few seconds on the page. You needs to deliver on the promise your title makes. You need to do it in an interesting and direct manner. Don’t bury the punchline at the end of a 40 minute video or 2000 word block of text. Make it easy for me to do what you want me to do with your content. Want me to “like” it on Facebook? There better be a Facebook button at the end of the post. The same goes for email, Twitter, Stumbleupon, or any other sharing service.

photo credit: szeke, epicxero, carnival king 08, epicxero, rick mccharles

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