When is Link Bait not Link Bait?

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post entitled “One in Three PR Agency Heads is an Idiot”. The much-too-honest Catriona Oldershaw accused me of link baiting (in a nice way, if there is a nice way of doing so). Link baiting, for those who are unfamiliar with the term, is the practice of writing blog and web page titles specifically designed to catch people’s attention and encourage them to share links to that content. It’s normally used in a derogatory context as the implication is that the actual content itself isn’t as interesting as the title.

Shortly after I wrote that post, which I’m happy to say was read, shared and commented upon many, many times (link bait success?) I saw a post by Gini Dietrich entitled “Doucheblogs and Spin Doctors”. I read it. Last week Dino Dogan guest blogged for Danny Brown with the subject of “F**king and Punching: The Moody Side of Business”. I read that too. Jay Dolan’s arguably the master of such titles on his Anti-Social Media blog, with a regular “F**k You Friday” post and the word ‘crap’ featuring remarkably often in his post titles. I read a lot of them as well.

Link bait can take many forms, from the ultra-helpful (ahem…) ‘Ten Sure-Fire Ways to Excel on Twitter’ to the inciting ‘Everyone Who Works in Social Media is a Moron’. But do the posts from Gini, Danny, Dino and Jay qualify as link bait? The answer: no. These guys write interesting, thought-provoking blogs that contain genuine opinion and passion. Sure, some of their post titles are written to catch attention, but isn’t that the point? What these guys do is to write from the heart and I genuinely believe that they’re not that bothered whether they receive five tweets or five hundred for any one post. And therein lies the difference, as link bait is written purely to drive traffic and sharing. There’s a lot of shit out there on the social web and one hell of a lot of link bait. But this isn’t it. What looks like link bait isn’t always link bait.

So back to my original “One in Three PR Agency Heads is an Idiot” post. Link bait or not link bait? It was in response to news that a third of UK PR agencies don’t even have a digital strategy, which hacked me off. Big time. Hence the fervour in the title. Did I want people to read that post and to share it? Sure, of course I did. But writing with passion, genuine feeling and personal input is what I try to do and am trying to do more of, as I hope that the people reading this blog will find it interesting, challenging and provocative. So I’m going to go out on a limb and state that I don’t think that post was link bait. But then hey, I wrote it, so you’re a better judge than me…

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