Social Media – SearchFest 2009

“Auditing Sleazy Linkbait, a Social Media Marketing Discussion”

1pm in the Vista room


Dawn Foster – Fast Wonder
Neil Patel – ACS
Matt Inman – Next Dating LLC


Mike Rosenberg – EngineWorks

Session Details

The first presenter was Dawn Foster. She’s going to talk about how brands are using social media.

Why companies should participate in social media:

  • People – gives people a place to engage with your company
  • Product Innovation – get product feedback (good AND / OR bad)
  • Evangelism – help you grow evangelists for your products from outside of your company
  • Brand Loyalty – engagement can drive a tremendous amount of loyalty for your products

“Social media is all about the people.”

Be careful when you’re participating on social media sites – be sincere. You don’t want to be seen as being fake or have ORM (online reputation management) issues.

Focus on the individuals. Participate as a person, not a corporate identity. Look at Sleep Number Sara on Twitter as an example of how a company isn’t seen as a company but as someone who is part of a community. Also remember it isn’t all about you.

Participation guidelines:

  • Do quietly monitor competitor’s communities and learn from them (do not participate, though)
  • Do participate as a person with diverse interests
  • Do talk about the industry first and your products second

You should look into participating in industry communities (PC World, etc.) that are relevant to your business.

Don’t think you have to be serious all the time; lighten things up a bit sometimes. It’s not always serious business.

The next speaker was Neil. He talked about unusual social media tactics.

Gave a couple of examples of Zappos and Woot’s bag of crap (this happens during Woot’s bimonthly or so Woot-off). Woot’s tactic is great becase:

  • Limited quantity
  • Cost should be low
  • Make it like a lottery
  • Spread it through the blogosphere
  • Leverage Twitter and FriendFeed to get the word out

Take advantage of holiday sales. Holiday sales help you promote products. You can select items that are on sale (1 or 2 that are limited quantity). Up sell it like crazy – create frothing demand. Promote this holiday sale through social coupon sites such as

Also take advantage of exclusive channel offers. So offer deals exclusively through different channels. Make them unique, offer one at a time, make them in a limited quantity and spread them out over time.

Create branding gimmicks for service-type sites. Have fun with them too – make them entertaining. Don’t sell people during this, though. Have your company logo on there as well and embed capabilities for users to share on their WordPress blog or otherwise.

Widgets are great ways to get embedded content on other sites. In order to make them work well, they:

  1. Need to be useful, not just neat (i.e. MyBlogLog)
  2. Community orientated
  3. Easy to embed

Create embargoes to generate excitement. The embargo needs to be something news worthy. Send it out to bloggers and watch the traffic and links roll in.

Spam the social web. Submit affiliate links to social sites. Link build to those paes. Add comments to high ranking social sites.

Leverage your readers. Don’t make it all “Nascar” – select only a couple of social media chicklets. Test out which ones you’re showing to see if the CTR is higher or lower. Encourage your readers to particpate in the social web. Buy StumbleUpon traffic.

Matt was the last speaker. He’s going to be talking about linkbait and will be talking about his successes with it.

He created Mingle2, a free online dating site. Within six months of launch, he had over 100,000 links built, it ranked for every major dating keyword and had over 2 million page views.

How did he do it? Linkbait. Linkbait is content you create that gets people to link to you. The primary benefit of this is elevating your search rankings.

He created a “How Geek Are You” quiz that worked very well. He created HTML badges that are able to be embedded into your blog. He included anchor text and a link to hsi dating site that showed up on each badge.

Widgetbait gone wild – keep it relevant. If your site sells toasters, only make quizzes about toasters. Also be careful with what keyword you link back with. Don’t get your widgit in the news and don’t get too greedy.

Also did “how to tell if your cat is plotting to kill you” – created 14k links in a week!

Matt also created Zombie Harmony – a zombie dating site. It has had millions of pageviews and thousand of links.

Juicy Linkbait Tips:

  • Take a commercial topic and attach something geeky, fun, or weird to it.
  • Keep the linkbait simple; it’s a gimmick, not a product. Don’t invest tons of time and energy into it. Don’t over-engineer it.
  • Getting on used to be 90% creativity and 10% promotion. It’s not 60 / 40.
  • Don’t IM for stumbles, diggs, or reddit upvotes.
  • Take some data and present it in an interesting way.
  • Create a simple game and reward the user.
  • Don’t write just blogbait.
  • Find a linkbaiter – find those who have designs on shirts or those who have written best-of Craiglist posts.
  • Keep your content benign. Make your linkbait appear non-commercial at first to avoid getting buried and encourage linking. However, if you’re getting page views, swap some things out to then include a share button and the like

Questions were on the following topics:

  • Where to start for social media marketing? Dawn said she would pick something you would be comfortable with. Do something you would participate personally before doing it professionally.
  • Measurement techniques. Matt uses “Mint” as well as Google Analytics. Look at analytics to see real-time how your linkbait is working. Dawn looks at “conversations” that are happening or @replying on Twitter.
  • How can a B2B site can utilize social media? Matt feels like there’s always a spin to everything; always an angle to market your site. Neil saw a dental site that shows how to whiten your teeth at home which helped it rank for dental keywords.
  • Favorite tactic that you were really pleased with the results and content? Matt said he has a furniture website that had a quiz about how long you can survive chained to a bunkbed with a velociraptor and it has showed tremendous gains. Dawn focuses on content; something that the audience would find interesting to read.
  • What didn’t work for the panelists? And what tends to make ideas successful? Neil says sophisticated stuff just doesn’t work very well; simple it down.

This session’s details were compiled by Senior Account Executive Christian Bullock of Amplify Interactive.

One thought on “Social Media session at SearchFest 2009

  1. I really enjoyed this presentation – sure, there were some questionable techniques explored, but it was really thought-provoking.

    Dawn, Neil & Matt – thank you!

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