When Promoting Link Bait, Twitter is King!

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A few weeks back we were promoting a link bait article on digg.  Before long, the submission hit the front page but in a matter of minutes was then buried.  In the meantime, however, it was quickly picking up steam on Twitter.  Within a few hours, the article got picked up by a major online news source, retweeted, and it exploded from there. (and is still going 3 weeks later)

As of today, the link bait article that went viral on twitter has 32K backlinks (according to Aaron Wall’s SEO toolbar) many from highly trusted websites and news sources.  While I don’t usually give much credence to pagerank, after the recent PR update, the article’s page has a PR 6 while the site’s homepage remains a PR 4.  This simply speaks to the quality of the links to the article.

Because it’s a client, I can’t link to the site or link bait piece (trust me, I REALLY want to).  Instead, what I’ll do is give you some insight as to why if part of your social media content strategy is to obtain links, Twitter is king.

The goal of link bait

First, some background…If you’re well versed in the art & science of link bait, you can skip this section. The goal of any link bait campaign is to (you guessed it) attract links.  The idea is to create content that evokes an emotion in webmasters that causes them to want to either spread or perhaps talk about your content from their own site (ideally) with a link back.  There’s a variety of emotions that can accomplish this, and if you want to learn more about the subject, I highly suggest reading Todd Malicoat’s article on link bait hooks.

The trick to link bait, however, (beyond having FANTASTIC content) is making sure that content gets in front of the right webmasters.  This is where social media promotion comes into play.  Now, you don’t need to go “viral” in order to attract links; sometimes a link bait piece simply targets a small group or niche of webmasters.  Still, in order to attract links, you need to have a promotion strategy that successfully places your content piece in front of the right people.

Social Bookmarking & News Sites

Sites like Digg, Reddit, and Stumble Upon are great for promoting link bait.  If you’re successful in hitting the front page or becoming popular on one of these services, the potential for a high volume of traffic in a short period of time is difficult to match.  This type of success, too, nearly guarantees you’ll see links from it.  Bloggers and webmasters are generally active in these communities, and tend to use them for inspiration and ideas for their next post or article.

While these communities are great, the larger ones reach such a broad audience, that niche content can sometimes go un-noticed or get buried.  There are a variety of niche social bookmarking communities, however, that may be a much better use of your time.  For example, Tipd.com is a fantastic (albeit small) community for financial news and resources.  Networking in these niche communities, too, can form more fruitful relationships, particularly if your content is similar to your new contacts’.  You won’t see a tremendous amount of links here, but a few good and relevant ones could be worth the effort.

Why Twitter is King

Social bookmarking sites (like Digg) are great for promoting link bait, and usually shouldn’t be overlooked when promoting your content.  However, Twitter has some distinct advantages over these services, particularly for attracting links.  Here are a few:

  • Twitter is where the webmasters are – If you’re a blogger or own a website that adds content on a regular basis, chances are, you have a twitter profile.  Probably more than one… If links are your goal, you can’t afford to overlook twitter.  Even Facebook can’t claim this.
  • Tweets are a more active (and personal) method of sharing content – If someone tweets or retweets your content, it shows up directly in their followers’ feeds while social bookmarking content usually needs to be found.
  • Twitter is much easier to target a niche, group, or even an individual – This takes the proper networking strategy, but it’s something Digg, Reddit, and SU can’t quite claim and is an important aspect of many link bait tactics.
  • RT: > Dugg – When someone Diggs your article, you’re simply one step closer to the front page.  When twitter users retweet your article, it’s literally spreading your content exponentially.
  • Twitter has no down vote (bury) button – Whether your link bait is controversial and evokes a “negative” emotion, or whether it appeals to only a smaller group of individuals, twitter will never “bury” your content.  If people wish to express their opinion about your article on twitter, they’ll need to do so in a retweet, which only spreads it further.  Social bookmarking sites make down voting content too easy.
  • Twitter power users > Digg Power users – More than sheer numbers, twitter power users have more influence over their followers than Digg power users.  On twitter, users are more likely to click, read, and engage in the content, while on Digg, many times users will digg an article without even clicking through (let alone reading it).
  • Sheer size – One advantage of Digg is that hitting the front page puts you in front of nearly the entire community all at once.  The problem is: the community is barely a fraction of the size of twitter’s.  The sheer size of twitter gives your content an advantage in terms of the scope and speed that it spreads.
  • Time Line – A disadvantage of Digg is that your content has limited time in front of the community.  Once it’s off the front page, it’s all but gone.  Articles can pick up tweets and retweets weeks (even months) after your initial push, giving you further opportunities to be noticed by webmasters.
  • Social Media Monitoring– Twitter is integrated into all social media monitoring tools. Track your brand quickly and efficiently.

The success of link bait relies more on the quality of your content rather than the strength of your network.  It’s no coincidence, that the same applies to the success of spreading your content (and having it go viral) on Twitter.  Think of tweets as the micro-blogging version of back links.  You do still need a strong following to get content going, but once it starts to spread, there’s no telling how far it will reach.  And as a result, the potential for links is un-matched.

Todd Heim

Todd Heim

Todd Heim is CEO, co-founder, and SEO manager of Essential Internet Marketing, LLC, an SEM and Social Media Marketing company based in Albany, NY.
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  • http://www.contentmobi.com/ le-juge

    Totally Agree, many people use twitter as some sort of multi source RSS feed and retweet or links are very common amongst the tweeters/bloggers.

  • http://sem-group.net/search-engine-optimization-blog/ Gerald Weber

    More than sheer numbers, twitter power users have more influence over their followers than Digg power users.

    Can we be both a Twitter and Digg power user? 😛

    • http://essentialinternetmarketingllc.com/ Todd Heim

      Yeah, it's probably tough to be a digg power user without having some decent influence on twitter anyways… 😉

  • http://directorysieve.com/ Directory Sieve

    twitter has grown many a times bigger than digg, and from what i read here, looks like digg itself is a digg killer. I mean, you story is burried but yet due to twitter it got 32k links, this means a story that is liked by 32k people at the least was burried by a few authority members of digg…

    i read some time back [1-2 days] back, that digg is bringing back all the banned domains. i remember when one of my domains was banned, not due to my fault, it was a comunity site and someone did manipulate digg to get our content on the front page. i thought if you can get banned that easily, then you can surely get your enemies and competitors banned as well, makes the entire bury/banning pointless…

    i tried to get back, i emailed and it got ignored, i emailed again after months and got a email that insulted me in every word, called me a spammer… but i still wanted to get in because digg was after all, digg!

    then came twitter and it took me away from digg, look at all those sites that had digg buttons, now they have twitter buttons on their posts and surely its good for them, because you wrote that every re-tweet is promotion however getting 50+ diggs is nothing… unless you hit frontpage and then if you don't get buried 😛

    digg is still huge, and they are changing their policies too, but i feel that its perhaps a bit too late… twitter as you say, is the king 🙂

    • http://essentialinternetmarketingllc.com/ Todd Heim

      If you ask me Digg should leave the bury button for posterity, but make it as functional as an elevator close button (none at all) 😉

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/swmdave SWMdave

    I totally agree with the digg killer comment. That is a pretty remarkable number of back links in three days. I've had a NY times article get some traction before, we didn't break 30k, barely broke 25k. Hats off to you Todd-

    Do you have a link to the story- I'd like to put in on Karmalynx.com

  • http://www.search-engine-academy-washington-dc.com Nancy E. Wigal

    Wow, great job of getting so many links in so little time, and they're quality links! Thanks for writing this up.

  • http://www.gotonursingjobs.com JaneSays

    Nice! Link baiting is the key and twitter blows them away.

    Todd, when it comes to twitter being king, and the new news that twitter is going to allow advertising, do you think peopel will be bombarded by tweets making it harder to link bait on twitter?

    • http://essentialinternetmarketingllc.com Todd Heim

      I don't think it will make it harder. If your content is good enough to spread, it will spread. But if you're right, then Twitter will have a real problem keeping people around…

  • http://www.affiliatenetworksite.com Michael Marshall

    Been Trying it, No Luck 🙁

    • http://essentialinternetmarketingllc.com Todd Heim

      Keep working at it… I never said it was easy 😉

  • http://www.xyberworks.com/ Custom Web Design

    Twitter is one of the effective link bait, through number of tweets regularly updated can produce more traffic towards your site so twitter is a king to drive traffic to your site.

  • http://babyboomersmarketingtips.com Gee

    Great stuff Todd. I personally have not used Digg too much because of the ease of buring.

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