Social Media LinkBait, AttentionBait and RevenueBait

This is the third part in a four-part series on How To Ensure Social Media ROI.

Read previous parts here:

Part Three: Repurposing Linkbait To Get Social Media Marketing Results

If you're not familiar with linkbait, it's essentially a way of getting links for SEO purposes by creating viral content. It grabs attention, gets passed around, and gets linked to by bloggers and social media people. It can be wildly successful, as it was with Mingle2 (100,000 links in 6 months leading to a top 10 ranking, and several millions visits, for a new dating website; and dating is not an easy niche to penetrate).

In the above slide from my Social Media ROI presentation, you can also see screenshots of:

The linkbait approach can be repurposed for Social Media. I've taken the liberty of naming two variations:

  • AttentionBait
  • RevenueBait

Before going any further, I need to say that I'm standing on the shoulders of giants here. This is simply an evolution of the work that Matthew Inman (Oatmeal) and Todd Malicoat (Stuntdubl) have done on LinkBait for years. Those guys are the gurus you should start learning from. Then continue to evolve toward RevenueBait.

How do you know if it's LinkBait, AttentionBait, or RevenueBait?

It's all in the intention of the creators.

  • LinkBait is usually created by SEO's, it targets bloggers, and the goal is to quickly attract lots of inbound links. You also could call something LinkBait in hindsight if it garners mass links.
  • AttentionBait is more the provenance of branding and PR folks. They only care about the AI or AID portions of AIDA.
  • RevenueBait is for ambitious direct marketers.


As you gather from the above examples, all variations of "bait" try to grab attention like the cover of The National Enquirer or Cosmopolitan Magazine. Shock value and edgy humor are key.

With AttentionBait, the goal is to get your brand some eyeballs or mindshare. You don't particularly care about SEO or Revenue at that point.

An example of this would be the the 2007 Boston Bomb Scare related to an Aqua Teen Hunger Force promotion.

[One of the ATHF promotional items that lead to the Scare.]

It appears it was not the promoter's intention to induce panic. In retrospect, targeting only people who were familiar with the ATHF brand would have avoided the panic. Regardless, it got them a lot of attention, and in their target demographic, it enhanced their brand. In fact, it might be that the ATHF fans think that people who would panic about these promo items are ridiculous- the controversy may have solidifed the ATHF fan-base by create an us-vs-them-and-they're-stupid situation.

As you can see, all Bait involves risk, and each company's risk tolerance (or that of the decision makers) must be considered. Bait brainstorming results or rough drafts should be reviewed with key decision-makers before putting all your resources into the final product.

Another great example of AttentionBait is I Love Local Commercials. Here's how they say it works on their website:

"It's simple, you nominate a local business that you think is worthy of attention and, if it's one of the more inspiring entries, we'll help them get that attention. We'll do whatever it takes (funny songs, crazy antics, perhaps even some amateur pyrotechnics) to make the best local commercial on whichever side of the Mississippi you happen to reside."

And here's an example, which is now my favorite commercial ever:

That's a real commercial for a real business, and it has received more than 1 million views on YouTube since its posting 4 months ago. It's a masterpiece. Even the title of the video, "Painfully Honest and Epic Mobile Home Commercial", is high-impact.

The "I Love Local Commercials" guys now own the SEO keyword "local commercials", so if they want to get paid to do that, they're set.

How to Fail At AttentionBait

Some organizations are destined to fail at Bait.They have too low a risk tolerance to do anything interesting. Your only hope, if you're the Bait creator, is to find something a bit less cool than you'd like to do that they'd accept.

Here's a trick: come up with the idea you really want to use, and then come up with one or two more that are much crazier. Present those on either side of the one you really want to do. Now you preferred idea seems less crazy.


The goal of RevenueBait is sales. Refer back to AIDA in part one. This is for you if you think:

  • Attention isn't good enough
  • Links aren't good enough
  • Rankings aren't good enough
  • If it doesn't make the cash register ring, it's a failure
  • Grumpiness is fun

Ok everything except the last one (grumpiness can be fun but you don't have to be grumpy to be a direct marketer).

So let's review how we get to revenue in Social Media:

To be RevenueBait, your campaign/bait must significantly increase the ROI of visitors. This can include up-selling and cross-selling previous customers.

I'd love to give you seven hundred examples of this, but I think this is a weakness in most Social Media campaigns right now.

People want and plan to get:

  • Friends, fans, followers
  • Clicks
  • Comments
  • Testimonies

But not revenue.

We have a few things in development for Fuel Interactive clients, but I can't share results yet. One campaign involves a purchase and random winners, but in order to not be considered a lottery, we can't make purchase the only way to enter.

My advice is to consult the Incentive Planning slide above and make sure your campaign plan gets prospects all the way to the sale.

Brian Carter is Director of SEO, PPC, and Social Media for Fuel Interactive, cofounder of TweetROI, and a passionate keynote speaker.

About the Author: Brian Carter

CEO of FanReach, Brian Carter has been an Internet Marketer, speaker, and social media trainer since 1999. Brian has been quoted and profiled by Information Week, US News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur Magazine. He is the author of the book How To Get More Facebook fans. He is both an adwords consultant and a facebook consultant. Check out his his free Facebook Marketing 101 course, and the full FanReach Facebook Marketing and Advertising course.

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