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Communitybait – Taking Egobait One Step Further

by Steve Morgan
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This is a guest post by Steve Morgan of Box UK

A little while back, James Agate of Skyrocket SEO wrote a guest post here on Point Blank SEO about egobait, which is when “an asset… is created to attract the attention of a specific person or group of people. It is essentially producing something that strokes the ego of the person/people/company featured.”

Although the name of the term itself has come under scrutiny, it’s still a very clever link building concept: if you talk about someone (in an especially positive and complimentary light), chances are that they will share it with their audience, whether it be from their own blog, social media profiles or both.

Usually, egobait targets people/companies on an individual basis. Granted, groups of people (as James said) are sometimes targeted – e.g. in a Top 10 list – but it may still be on an individual basis.

But what if you could tick a lot more boxes? Introducing: Communitybait. Communitybait is essentially applying the egobait principle to the broader community – not necessarily just an individual or group of individuals within it (although you’ll often find that certain individuals may be pinpointed and referenced as part of the process). 

The beauty of communitybait is that it broadens the number of people who might link to the content and share it socially. If it’s a community site (rather than an industry as a whole), you’re not just appealing to the creators of the community, but all the people within it, particularly the more hard-core contributors.

Here are four examples related to the SEO/inbound marketing community, followed by possible avenues to pursue in other industries.

* Disclaimer: you’ll notice that two of the examples are my own. I’m not including them in order to self-promote and I certainly didn’t write them solely to gain links/shares, either. On the contrary, it wasn’t until afterwards that I realised the additional benefits of this type of content in addition to the fact that – beyond egobait – the concept hasn’t been explored in much detail previously. *

Example #1: If I Were an SEO Dude

The Premise

Emma Still’s post made a number of observations on the men of the SEO industry, basically coming to the conclusion that we like beer, plaid shirts, facial hair and glasses, among other things.

It was cheeky, funny and brilliant. A very entertaining read.

The Result?

As I type this, the post has gained over 250 social shares, with more than 150 of those via Twitter. It’s had 60 comments on the post itself, along with another dozen over at Inbound.org, where it received over 70 upvotes. A lot of the comments were in agreement, with this one being my personal favourite.

Example #2: Meet Your SEO Community: An Analysis of all the MYS Interviews

The Premise

Inspired by Alessio Madeyski’s series of industry interviews known as Meet Your SEO, I conducted an analysis of them (33 in all), combining the answers to find out the most popular, frequently-given answers. It uncovered the interviewees’ best tips, biggest pet peeves, favourite drinks and biggest influences in terms of general consensus.

The Result?

So far it’s had over 250 pageviews and it was shared via Twitter by numerous SEOs, including Alessio (the creator) himself and many of those who had originally been interviewed.

Example #3: An Analysis of 100 Inbound.org Submissions

The Premise

I’m a massive fan of Inbound.org – the inbound marketing news/resource site – and so I go on there regularly, both as a reader and contributor. Self-submission has been a bit of a sore subject for a while, with some people attempting to spam the site with their own content, so I decided to run an analysis of 100 incoming posts, especially as Rand himself had said that even a 1:10 self-submission ratio would be considered too high in his opinion.

My analysis revealed that around 38% of contributors submit their own content. I thought it’d be an interesting insight to share and put into words – not to show the site up, but to give us an indication as to how people use these types of sites, especially given the industry that we operate in.

The Result?

It’s received over 450 pageviews, with over 60% of that traffic coming directly from Inbound.org itself. There were numerous comments on both the post itself and on its submission page, including contributions from Ed Fry (the site’s General Manager), one of the developers involved with the recent site redesign and a few of Inbound.org’s regulars/top members.

…We’ll just glaze over the fact that I submitted it myself, shall we? Good good.

Example #4: Casting “Content Strategy: The Movie”

The Premise

And now for something completely different… when Rachel Lovinger of Razorfish paired famous players in the content marketing/content strategy industry with their Hollywood doppelgangers.

The Result?

In news that will shock no one, it got a ton of social shares, especially with the people involved (the content guys, not the actors!), who Rachel @mentioned via her Twitter profile in order to notify them of their inclusion. In fact, the post was so popular – with additional contributions made afterwards via Twitter and the post’s comments – that it was update twice to include more people from the industry.

Approaches

Based on the above, there are a fair few approaches you can take with this type of content. Here are some possibilities:

  • Be analytical: People love data. What’s the split of age/gender/nationality? What are their likes/dislikes? What do they have in common? This might be easier to work out in some instances than in others, but if you’re able to carry out an analysis on a community and provide some insights, it’s bound to be of interest to them.
  • Be funny: This is certainly applicable to Emma’s and Rachel’s examples. People shared those posts because they were amusing. On a community level though, this is amplified – it could be shared by the people directly referenced/involved, but it could also be shared by anyone involved with the community (who may not necessarily have been referenced directly on an individual level).
  • Be controversial: I’d be careful how you go about this, especially if you’re involved with the community you’re talking about, as you may alienate yourself from it in the process. As Michael J. Kovis has pointed out, one way to look at it is this: egobait + controversy = trolling. Change “egobait” to “communitybait” and it’s amplified on a much larger scale.

Communities in Other Industries

It’s all well and good talking about the SEO/inbound marketing industry as a community – obviously its community is one that many people reading this will already be well acquainted with.

As for other industries, consider sites like Money Saving Expert for finance and TripAdvisor for travel, both of which are known for their strong communities.

You could even consider sites that target a demographic rather than specific industry, such as Mumsnet or The Student Room.

Still struggling? Think about random affinities.

Better still, what if you can compare communities?

Or, if you’re feeling particularly dangerous… try 4chan. If you do: a) good luck, and b) let us know how you get on!

[Image credit: Aldo van Zeeland (Flickr)]

This post was written by...

Steve Morgan – who has written 1 posts on Point Blank SEO.

Steve Morgan+ is an SEO Strategist at Box UK, a web & software consultancy based in Cardiff, South Wales, UK. Steve also blogs over at SEOno: his own blog covering SEO, PPC, social media and (sometimes) music.

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9 Comments
  1. rambabu says:

    thanks Steve for taking this us to one step ahead. Yes , i have seen many time what people really are trying to find sometime is that “they want first to engage or interact with the service marketers offer”. And some of your examples are quite familiar, as i am an SEO . .want to learn or observe some more best SEO tactics . .then the same above i will do then would be final WORD for this will decide to take service or not. . !

  2. Emma says:

    Ego Baiting – I freaking love it. I will always read posts like that and probably tweet about it because well, it works (and you know I’m hoping to do some ego-baiting of my own, right Steve?)

    Very nice case study!

  3. John says:

    Brilliant post, its a fantastic way to cover a broad spectrum of people with a single piece of quality content. Couple community bait with some RWS and you could have some very valuable pieces.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks John. :-) I like your thoughts on combining with RWS, too (which I actually had to Google – I knew of RCS but didn’t know the ‘W’ version, hehe)!

  4. Paul Gailey says:

    Hey Steve, this is my second comment today on your coat trails! and i totally agree with spreading your comments scent on other communities. completely. And yet it’s not always so simple.

    It’s weird you mention MSE site though as only last week I had a IRL with other finance sector employees who are equally banned from that site because it follows a extreme exclusionary policy towards brand representation on their site. And I mean disclosing an affiliation with a company in your profile and making a comment on their site, no more than that. What I am trying to say is that not all communities are created equally or policed the same.

    With Trip Advisor I had an experience whereby when I posted helpful URLs to the community of visitors who were seeking information about a hotel under construction (travel agents did not have info, booked holiday makers were gagging for it), when doing this using a newish profile associated with a company email (not travel related, but a construction company) the moderators manually removed it several times. Eventually the fan trip advisors members contacted me privately and reposted the all the URLs for all to see and the moderators gave up and my little construction company got a bag load of citation links.

    • Steve says:

      Hi Paul,

      I’ve had a bit of an odd experience with MSE, too. In my pre-SEO life, I worked at a company that operates in a less-than-stellar industry and some of the MSE community took it upon themselves to slag off the company – insulting all the staff, saying anyone who worked then had low IQ, etc. When I challenged it and asked them to realise that these people simply had mortgages to pay and families to feed, they just got more hostile. I think one even suggested that the employees kill themselves! It was awful. Sorry, I guess I’ve gotten a little off-topic but you reminded me of the experience. It’s just a bit of an odd community, if you ask me – and I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who thinks so!

      I also had a very similar (and very frustrating) experience to your TA experience – mine being with The Student Room (another one I mentioned above). It was a few years ago and I’d written a post that would help graduates/students to find more jobs using Google. I setup a new profile in order to share it; something I genuinely thought would help A LOT of people. I got banned, and when I queried it, I got a response saying “sorry, you’re not allowed to advertise on our site.” When I made the point that we weren’t advertising (it wasn’t like a random student was going to hire us for SEO anyway!), they ignored me!

      Heh, I guess the above would’ve been better suited as an individual topic for discussion in its own blog post, but I couldn’t help myself. Apologies, Jon! :-)

      To bring it back on-topic… I guess if you’re doing this type of content, you might have to do it on a) a community you’re already involved with (especially if you’re after particular data), or b) if it’s a community you don’t know too well (e.g. it’s on behalf of a client) then perhaps write about it elsewhere (and maybe even don’t bring it to the attention of the people involved – unless it’s via Twitter or somewhere more neutral).

  5. Josh says:

    I enjoyed the article, was happy to be reminded of inbound.org but the resource you shared at the end regarding “Random Affinities” really helped me with some concepts that had been bubbling around in my head.

    Must thank you for your thorough effort.

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