As I sat to have dinner with a wonderful group of social media and marketing bloggers at Social Slam last week, we found ourselves discussing, and debating, the subject of “link-baiting.” And as were most of our discussions there in Knoxville, the banter was lively, and it seemed we all had something to say.
At one point, Gini Dietrich of the great Spin Sucks blog said that just last week she had been accused of link-baiting, which just goes to show how some folks—the “Internet Police” we’ll call them, have nothing better to do with their time than judge the actions and intentions of others.
But today, instead of disagreeing with all the poo-pooers out there that cry foul with every new “list post,” or “name-drop post,” or “Google post” ever written—I’m going bluntly give my take on the matter by making a confession to all of you, my faithful readers. Here goes:
Every post I’ve ever written is link bait.
There. I said it. You may all hate my guts now and move to the next blog.
But for those of you that would like to continue reading, let’s get real for a minute.
Enough of the Holier-than-thou Crapola
Check out what Wikipedia has to say about link-baiting:
Link bait is any content or feature, within a website, designed specifically to gain attention or encourage others to link to the website. Matt Cutts defines link bait as anything “interesting enough to catch people’s attention.”
Now, let me ask you a few questions, and please be honest in answering them:
When you write a blog post, do you hope others will read it? Do you hope they’ll tell their friends and coworkers about it, possibly by sending them a link via email? Do you hope they’ll link to it on their social channels? And do you hope they’ll even possibly link to it on their next blog post?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t blog to talk to myself. I blog (or rather communicate and teach, but we’ll call it blogging because that’s the dumb word it was given long before I knew what the web even was) because I want to help people, many people, through my words. Furthermore, I want to build my brand, my business, and live in financial peace.
Sure, there are a few people out there that would blog whether anyone listened or not, but if I didn’t feel there was anyone listening, nor any other benefits personally or professionally, I wouldn’t be doing this.
But as I mentioned earlier, I truly want and appreciate the support my work gets from others. Not only am I grateful to anyone who actually reads the stuff I write or produce on video, but I also hope they’ll share it….with a link.
Do you really want to know what link bait is?
Link-bait is when you write stuff that other people want to talk about and share. Period.
Maybe it’s a great answer to a question.
Maybe it’s a kind mention of another person, product, or service.
Maybe it’s a thought so provoking that others can’t help but to pass it along.
Maybe it’s something so irrational and stupid that readers can’t help but to share it.
And maybe you think it’s irrational and stupid but the person next to you thinks it’s the best piece of writing since The Fountainhead.
Like everything else in this world, it’s all relative.
Personally, I write about what’s on my mind. Today’s article is a little controversial. Some will like it. Some will hate it.
Others will call it link-bait.
But the last I looked, no one has ever held a gun to your head or mine and forced us to share another person’s work.
Heck, now that I think about it, can we just stop using the dumb word “link-bait”? At the current rate, if every member of the “social media police” had their way there would never be another article ever written on any subject because every single blog post that is published could be attacked as a link-mongering effort of self-adulation and personal advancement.
And to these police, I say blah, blah, blah.
If I want to drop names, that’s my right.
If I want to talk about subjects others feel are “off limits,” then that’s my right.
If I want to answer questions others don’t have the guts to answer, then that’s my right.
If I want to call out companies, brands, and big businesses (and live with the consequences), again, that’s my right.
And do you know what?
It’s yours too.
So go do your thing.
Write that which inspires you.
Follow your promptings.
Listen to your inspiration.
And for the love of Pete, never worry about being accused of “link-baiting” again.
What’s your take on link-bait? Do you agree with my argument that we’re all essentially link-baiters or do you think I’m nuts? And why do so many feel it’s their job to be the “link-bait police”?