It cost me nothing, and it took less than two hours to create, but within 12 hours I was a friend of Julia Gillard and within 24 there was an article carrying the same angle up on news.com.au.
With over 300,000 blog entries on WordPress alone yesterday even I am amazed that by following the simple rules of linkbaiting I pulled it off as can be seen in the image below showing my blog and news.com.au carrying the same story one day apart.
Here’s how it unfolded.
On Wednesday, 4th June I canvassed Twitter and Facebook and found PM Julia Gillard was far more popular on both social media platforms than Tony Abbott. So, I speculated: could it be that this is an early indicator that Gillard will win the election on August 21?
A Google search provided me with the evidence I needed that no other stories had been written with this angle so any ‘blog-noise’ with this spin would very likely to be originating from my post.
I actually have nothing to sell, I am a freelancer who loves the web, and I tend to get plenty of work. But, I am sure the potential commerciality of what I did is obvious. Getting my message to the masses was the objective, and I have happily achieved it.
I am now certain the story was picked up from this blog because the structure of the article is very similar, it has the exact angle and where I compared the results to the Herald/Neilson poll, news.com.au compared it to Newspoll. Of course. They even had a paragraph with a reference to Barack Obama in the news.com.au article at the same point in the story, making the same argument.
Still, hats off to the professional: she dug up the story and made it her own adding some quotes and Gordon Brown to the story. That is her job. Mine was to demonstrate that linkbaiting works well and I am delighted to say it worked a treat.
So, what is Linkbaiting and how did I do it?
Two days ago, while I presented at an AusIndustry CleverLink workshop, I was explaining the concept of linkbaiting to the assembled delegates. I explained that if you have a great angle, are topical and share your story well then your content has a good chance of being shared on the social web.
So, in front of 25 people I came up with this very example of an angle for Linkbait (predicting who will win the election based on social media popularity). I actually said I might go and blog the idea that later that afternoon. Which is what I did.
Linkbaiting is a means of driving your message out to the blogsphere via ‘hooks’ so that it is duplicated and picked up by either the online press, bloggers or prominent figures. ‘Linkbait Nirvana’ is being picked up by a major title as shown in the diagram from TheSocialMediaGuide.com.au below.
Conceptually, Linkbaiting is very, very similar to PR with one main difference: the way it is shared. PR relies on relationships with journalists. Linkbaiting relies on sharing and great content. Here’s what I did:
I did my (very basic) research and wrote my blog with a unique angle.
Then I shared it with PM Julia Gillard.
Then she followed me back.
Then I shared with Tony Abbott.
(He didn’t follow me back)
Then I shared it with my LinkedIn network.
Then I Facebooked it.
My story then started to walk around the web as it was Liked, posted and shared. Needless to say my blog traffic has gone through the roof in two days!
Now, I did not share it with news.com.au directly but they picked it up somewhere and ran with the idea. And they are very welcome to. It’s their job to sniff out a good story. It would have been polite to have been credited, but I have gained what I needed. And I hope I can continue to inspire!
A small point, the news.com.au figures are incorrect. The chart dated both ’30 July’ and ‘August 2010’ (strange in itself) has figures higher than the actual figures for 4 August. It is highly irregular for these figures to drop, let alone the nation’s two most prominent political leaders in the run up to the election.
In Tony Abbott’s case, news.com.au states he has 18,800 followers on July 30. He actually had 10,424 as at 4 August. It is very unlikely he lost nearly half his following in a matter of days. Julia Gillard was supposed to have 55,870 followers on 30 July according to news.com.au, but the actual figure for 4 August was 54,566. Again, it is unlikely she would have gone backwards at this stage. In fact, over the past three days to today, both candidates have increased their following on Facebook and Twitter.
On the 30 July, Julia Gillard was supposed to have 34,772 followers according to news.com.au but 6 days later when she added me she only had 34,702 as can be seen in her invitation, left. Again, she has trended up this week, not down in her number of followers, so the news.com.au figure is just not possibly correct.
Authors Note: I worked as a web producer at News Ltd and NewsDigitalMedia a few years back. Had a great time, grew and learned a great deal during my time there 🙂 Details at http://linkedin.com/in/libbymalcolm.