5 Link Bait Lessons from The Tipping Point

the tippoing point book cover
[photo by jeremy page]

Nearly everyone has been the victim of typical teenage drama.  Remember those times in high school when Johnny so and so kissed Kate behind the football stadium?  In a matter of minutes news of the kiss was spreading from clique to clique, from the marching band to the cheerleaders, until everyone knew about the scandalous kiss.  From notes passed in class, to whispers and giggles at the lunch tables, word spreads like an infectious disease, informing even the most remote social bystanders of the act that occurred behind the stadium.  There is a certain mystery to how news seems to spread so fast in high school; a certain quality that makes rumors and behavior spread exponentially.  And it’s something I’d like to recreate over the Internet.

Over my summer vacation, I finished reading a brilliant book entitled, The Tipping Point, written by Malcolm Gladwell.  “The Tipping Point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips and spreads like wildfire.”

Despite the relaxing sounds of the ocean waves and the beautiful scenery, I did exactly what any workaholic would do: I began to think about work.

But to be fair, as a link builder, how am I supposed to ignore this secret recipe that could promise viral link bait success?  I mean, The Tipping Point isn’t directly about SEO or Linkbuilding in particular, but it still explains the necessary factors towards creating viral content that may catch the same social attention as Johnny and Kate’s scandalous kiss!

So without further ado, here are the key ingredients to Internet success!

Lessons 1 – 3: The Law of the Few

These are must have personality types to help your content go viral.

1. Connectors

Connectors are those with a special gift for bringing the world together. These individuals have an extraordinary ability to make new friends and acquaintances, and more importantly introduce others to them. It is the Connectors that broadcast the trends to individuals far and wide, through their vast social interactions, and whom we rely upon to connect us with other people.

In the world of SEO, this highlights the importance of having relationships with bloggers who have a strong readership or those friends with thousands of Twitter followers.  People like Lady Gaga could be considered Connectors with the largest following on Twitter over any other celebrity.

2. Mavens

“A Maven is a socially motivated person who has information on a lot of different products, prices, or places.  This person likes to initiate discussions with consumers and respond to requests.”  Mavens are individuals that want to help, for no other reason than personal enjoyment, and because of this attitude, they are extremely effective at getting the attention of others, and being taken seriously.

Again, this is why we as link builders rely so much on our relationships with bloggers — especially for niche categories. Usually, readers make their daily rounds to their favorite sites to learn and experience. They trust the information that comes from their “bookmarked” sites and favorite bloggers.   One example of a Maven would be SEO wiz Rand Fishkin who provides tons of valuable advice, simply because he hopes to help the industry gain a more reputable standing.

3. Salesmen

But Connectors and Mavens simply aren’t enough.  Both personalities lack the ability to persuade.  For a social epidemic to start, Salesmen are need.  This select group of people has the ability to persuade us when we are skeptical.  “Connectors are the social glue: they spread it.  Mavens are data banks.  They provide the message. And Salesmen, convince people to act.”

Consider Apple’s (now ex) CEO.  Steve Jobs is a natural salesman.  With every product presentation he is able to convince millions to purchase the newest, most expensive gadgets, with no track record, on a whim.

Lesson 4: The “Stickiness Factor”

It is the Law of the Few that makes a message spread.  However, the content of the message matters as well.  Gladwell refers to how memorable a message is and whether it can spur someone to action as “stickiness.”  For instance, the bestselling author relates back to the story involving Paul Revere.  It is with the phrase “The British are coming” that Revere started an epidemic.  However, if he had instead decided to ride across the land at midnight to inform people of a sale on mugs at his silversmith shop, he could not have convinced the entire Massachusetts countryside to come to his store.

This “Stickiness Factor” highlights the importance of content.  Only if you try to provide real knowledge and benefit in your blog posts, articles or social interaction will your content really gain attention.  I try to focus my content by always thinking about how I can improve the Internet for individuals. You can gain so much more SEO value by spending the time to create good content than you can by writing a mediocre article and using an article spinner to duplicate hundreds more.

Lesson 5: The Power of Context

This principle suggests that epidemics are sensitive to the conditions of its environment.  Therefore, the circumstances of the times and places in which they occur have to be just right.  Again, in terms of Paul Revere, because the warning ride occurred at midnight, individuals were a lot easier to reach.  The townspeople were all at home in their beds, rather than working in the fields or running errands.  And because someone is waking us up in the middle of the night to speak of news, individuals will always assume it is urgent.  Gladwell jokes, “one can only imagine how ‘Paul Revere’s afternoon ride’ might have compared.”

This all revolves around choosing the right avenue to send your material.  If you are writing great articles on social media, you obviously don’t want to publish them on cooking websites.  Context is extremely important.  You won’t reach interested individuals by providing your link bait on irrelevant sites.  Focusing on the niche areas where individuals are already looking to find similar information to your content is key! You can also utilize Google Trends and Twitter hashtags to discover the most current popular topics of conversation for your content.

Lessons Learned

“The Law of the Few states that there are exceptional people out there who are capable of starting epidemics.  All you have to do is find them.  The lesson of stickiness is the same.  There is a simple way to package information that can make it irresistible.  All you have to do is find it… With the slightest push – in just the right place” – the INTERNET can be tipped.

Now go out there and try to recreate these same principles and let me know of your success rate! Also consider this: Are you a Connector?  A Maven? Or a Salesman?