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Link Bait Part 2: Top 10 Out-of-the-box Link Bait Ideas Ever (and Why They Worked)

March 1st, 2011 | | Posted in category Internet Marketing

Today we go on talking link bait with yet another post in the series. Hope that you found our first story, Link Bait: Bringing Big Catch or Wasting Your Time?, useful and inspiring. And this time we prepared something really yummy and even more refreshing for you -Top 10 Out-of-the-box Link Bait Ideas Ever! It actually took us a couple of heated discussions to agree upon the final list that we are now happy to present.

It should be mentioned, however, that some of these link bait pieces started as TV marketing campaigns and then grew into effective link bait, which is not really important. What they all have in common is a fresh, original, outstanding idea ingrained into each of these pieces that we would like to share with you. May they be your inspiration and help you create something stunning on your website as well!

Idea 1. Compare the Meerkat (comparethemarket.com)

link bait meerkat alexandr orlov meerkovo

Meet Alexandr Orlov, the founder of CompareTheMeerkat.com. What really gets on the nerves of this respectable meerkat is that so many people misspell the name of the site while looking for car insurance. Thus, he warns you: "This is comparethemeerkat.com not comparethemarket.com. If you are looking for cheap deal on car insurance, you won't find it here". Furious over the huge amount of irrelevant traffic on his site, Alexandr goes even as far as making a video in which he explains the difference between "meerkat" and "market" in plain English!

The hook: humor

Why it worked: The association between "market" and "meerkat" is so obvious, that you can't but remember the site's name automatically. Plus, the idea itself is fresh and unusual - by the time you figure out what this meerkat is talking about, you are hooked. Oh, BTW, did I tell you he speaks with a foreign accent?

Idea 2. Zombie Harmony (mingle2.com)

What if yours is a dating site? It means you have to compete with thousands of other dating sites out there. So, how do you make your website stand out?

Zombie Harmony is the first dating site for... zombies. On the website, you find other single zombies, for example, the one nicknamed "i_ate_my_family". Luckily for off-track humans, there's a button that says "Not a Zombie? Click here". When you click it, you find yourself on mingle2.com homepage.

The hook: humor

Why it worked: Lots of people are horror movie fans, like to play zombies or just don't want to be like everybody else. So, people get naturally inspired to share something like Zombie Harmony site with others for kicks.

Idea 3. ElfYourself (OfficeMax)

We all love playing jokes on our friends and relatives. And nothing can be better than a hilarious Christmas card. Elfyourself is an online application that allows you to do just that. With the help of the program, you can create up to 5 super-cute Christmas elves using your friends' and relatives' pictures. When you play the video, the elves start dancing a hilarious, side-splitting dance to popular holiday themes.

Even though "ElfYourself" was launched in 2006, it's still extremely popular nowadays - with over 30 million "ElfYourself" cards sent out last year. Besides, new features are being added, like Disco Dance, Singing Elves, etc. You can even order souvenirs with elf-images of yourself and your friends!

The hook: humor

Why it worked: First of all, the whole thing is extremely hilarious. Second of all, it's not just SOME funny little elves dancing to Christmas music - it's you and your best friends in elf costumes doing the moves you never knew you were capable of!

Idea 4. Old Spice Man (Old Spice)

The campaign began with "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" TV commercial. The ad features actor Isaiah Mustafa as the Old Spice Man. In the commercial, he cuts a super-confident and cool figure -he sails a boat, rides a horse and claims that anything is possible with Old Spice.

But the bigger success was yet to come. After the TV ad won a number of top awards at world's most prestigious festivals, in July 2010, the YouTube campaign was launched. The idea was to have the athletic and witty Old Spice Man respond to people's Twitter, Facebook , Reddit or Digg posts in a series of short online videos. The videos caused such frenzy on the Web that in less than 48 hours they got a record number of 23 million (!) views. As of today, the Old Spice Man remains the fastest growing Internet video campaign ever.

The hook: humor, sex appeal

Why it worked: The commercial is basically shot in one uninterrupted take, including some special effects. Plus, the idea of a commercial replying to your post or twit is just so wild - no wonder the Internet community jumped at it.

Idea 5. One Red Paperclip (Kyle MacDonald)

Ever thought of trading a paperclip for a house? No? Well, you should have! As the "One Red Paperclip" project shows even a wild dream like this one may come true. Kyle MacDonald from Canada launched an unusual campaign on his blog. The point was to start with a simple red paperclip and keep on trading it "for bigger and better things" until he ended up with a house instead. And, guess what, it worked! The interactive quest was covered on Kyle's blog, which got many users clued to their screens, partially inspired, partially dumbfounded by such bold idea.

The hook: free stuff and a know-how

Why it worked: Were Kyle trading equally valuable things, the story wouldn't get even a tiny share of the attention it got. It was all about pursuing your dream, going up the ladder of success, and everybody was really curious how this would end.

Idea 6. Will it Blend? (Blendtec)

Why on earth would you ever put an iPhone into a blending machine? Well, of course to find out whether it will blend. Will it? Watch the "Will it Blend" video to find out. This is how the Blendtec company decided to promote their equipment - by launching a series of discovery-type videos in which they try to blend different objects from a teddy bear to an iPad using their "Total Blender" machine. The YouTube videos were a tremendous success, with more than 25 000 backlinks leading to willitblend.com page. Besides, on their Facebook account, you can suggest your own things to be blended in upcoming videos. Someone suggested... No, I won't repeat it.

The hook: discovery/experiments

Why it worked: How often do you see a laptop blended into a pile of dust? Besides, it's a new object every time. And the guy is so funny, asking his usual "but will it blend?" question in a serious tone.

Idea 7. How sexy is your town? (LoveHoney)

If you sell sex toys, the nature of your product is such that discussing it in social media becomes a delicate issue. Thus, it's hard to think of a good link bait piece that most people would not hesitate to share. Yet LoveHoney online store found a way to make users comfortable with the idea of linking to their site. They created a UK Sex Map on which you can see what city or town in the UK is the sexiest. The map also provides statistics as to how many people use what products in certain areas, which makes visitors more inclined to buy things, since they see that others from their location do it as well.

The hook: top-things list and curious facts

Why it worked: The UK Sex Map is a good opportunity to get some unique statistics. Just think about it, what other ways are there to find out how many people buy sex toys in your town?

Idea 8. My Starbucks Idea (Starbucks Cafe)

link bait

Have you ever found yourself in a position, when you want to share an idea, but nobody wants to listen? Or when you have a recommendation to make to your favorite restaurant or cafe, but there's no manager around? Now, this is what Starbuck cafe decided to do - give their customers an opportunity to voice their ideas. No matter how big or trifle your idea may be, you have equal opportunity to share it on the Starbucks website - and be heard. Plus, there's a way to support the ideas that you like by writing comments to them.

The hook: education/ego play

Why it worked: "My Starbucks Idea" creates a perfect opportunity for people to express themselves. Each idea is given a status, like "launched" or "under review", which shows that it's not merely sitting on the site.

Idea 9. Entrepreneurs Can Change the World (Grasshopper)

Everybody wants to be part of something big, and that's exactly what this video is about -entrepreneurs being the driving force that keeps the world spinning. And it doesn't really matter if you are one or not, as long as you feel the same - this truly inspirational, heart-warming video is for you.

The hook: inspirational

Why it worked: People share inspirational videos a lot. Besides, even though the video is supposedly on entrepreneurs, it's pretty much of a universal nature.

Idea 10. Man in Jeggings (Asylum.com)

"Man in jeggings" is a hilarious article by Marty Beckerman who one day decided to walk the streets of New York City wearing a unique pair of super-modern men's jeggings. It begins with Marty trying to purchase a pair of "extraordinary pants" then dwells on his further experiences. To add credibility to his tale, Marty provides a bunch of rather entertaining pictures taken in the course of the experiment. The article became immensely popular in no time and got linked to by almost 4 000 Facebook users in the first two weeks since its release date.

The hook: humor and experiment

Why it worked: Funny piece of writing, funny pictures, besides, these are not just mere speculations, it's a real life story.

After looking at these success stories, one can't but notice - humor seems to be the best link-bait technique. Of course, there are other hooks to take advantage of, like sex appeal, experiment, ego play, etc. - but humor beats them all. However, it never hurts to use more than one hook per link bait piece ;)

Now, folks, I'm sure you've come across even more jaw-dropping, astounding links bait pieces online and must be wondering why they're not our list. If that's the case, hit me with rotten tomatoes, if you wish, but then take a minute to post a link to your favorite one on this blog. It well deserves a link, I think, - it's link bait after all!



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  • http://twitter.com/hutor04 hutor04

    Hey Alesya! What about funny 404 pages? They deserve a post!

  • http://twitter.com/hutor04 hutor04

    Hey Alesya! What about funny 404 pages? They deserve a post!

  • Dorota

    nice 1 Alesya! I must say I really wanted to see some great examples in the previous post, glad you gave them here. The Old Spice one really made me laugh :)

  • http://devingredients.com Catalin

    From a few years back until today and until many years ahead *humor* makes a good impact on your visitors, if used wisely.

  • http://www.bestdancewear.net/liturgical-praise-dance/ LiturgicalPraiseDance

    Excellent! Great
    article, I already saved it to my favourite,

  • http://www.link-assistant.com/ Link-Assistant.Com

    Since forever! :)

    Boris, thanks for stopping by! 

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