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18 Examples of Awesome Viral Linkbait

Posted on 12 Jul 2010 in Content Development | 17 comments

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Co-Founder & Digital Strategist at Acquisition Engine. Nomadic Soul. Sagan Fanboy. Follow @seanmccolgan !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

In this post we take a look at some of the latest and greatest viral linkbait campaigns run by the savviest of digital marketers.

Connecting great content with it’s target audience, promoting it on the correct channels, and causing an emotional response is not easy, but can yield excellent results when executed correctly.

From a flood of optimized backlinks helping improve your search presence, to mass traffic generation (great for blogs running CPM advertising slots), there are a lot of great reasons you should be investing in your own viral linkbait content.

Let’s take a look at three kinds of viral linkbait content that audiences love: Videos, Infographics and Widgets.

Viral Video Linkbait

People love online video (that’s a fact), as shown by a recent report by ComScore indicating that 178 million US internet users watched 30.3 billion online videos during the month of April 2010. Creating and sharing video content is now a major part of any businesses digital strategy looking to engage it’s audience/customers. Let’s take a look at some of the best viral videos out there:

1. Entrepreneurs Can Change The World (Grasshopper)

Great video linkbait tells a story and Grasshopper did just that – They inspired Entrepreneurs all around the world to join a movement and change the world, and you might want to get grasshopper while you’re at it?

2. Ninja Unboxing (Google)

Here’s a scenario for you: You’re releasing a new phone to an already crowded market place: How do you get the word out and generate buzz? If you are Google, you enlist the skills of Patrick Boivin to animate the unboxing of your product using Ninjas and seed the video on YouTube.

1,328,776 video views, 3544 Tweets, 14,768 Clicks via Twitter, 2,076 Facebook Shares and 842 Facebook Comments.

Genius.

3. Superhuman tape measure skills (Integrity Windows)

A perfect example of well executed viral linkbait for an offline business. From the video, to the landing page, and an engaging online game it’s nothing but a positive experience. I didn’t know of any Windows installers in the US; I do now – Integrity Windows.

4. JavaZone Trailer: Java 4-ever (JavaZone Conference)

Humour always works in Viral linkbait. This video from Java Zone (Scandinavia’s biggest meeting place for software developers) nailed it with this spoof video about a son’s dilemma to develop for an open source platform rather than Microsoft’s. Original Video has been taken down due to copyright infringement. What a shame. (Slightly NSFW).

5. Will It Blend? – iPad (Blendtec)

‘Will it Blend?’ Needs no introduction here – With over 129,155,918 video views, BlendTec’s YouTube Channel is the 95th most subscribed channel of all time. Their speciality is blenders, and now even sell “Will it Blend” Merchandise.

Do all these video views and being a top 100 YouTube channel equate to success? According to Tom Dickson, BlendTec’s CEO and video star it does – “We have definitely felt an impact in sales. Will it Blend has had an amazing impact to our commercial and our retail products.”

6. Fast Lane – The Slide (Volkswagen)

Volkswagen have invested a lot of time and effort in their viral videos (last years Pianotrappan was one of my favourite viral videos), this time with the help of DDB Stockholm.

7. Glastonbury 2010 (Google)

Another fantastic video from Google promoting a multitude of their online services in one cleverly executed video. It’s a follow up to their hugely successful Super Bowl Ad. Not only are Google launching a series of these viral videos – They are following them up with well executed blogger outreach programmes.

Infographic Viral Linkbait

An infographic is a graphic visual representation of information, data or knowledge – it’s objective is to present complex information quickly and clearly (the good ones do). With human attention a scarce commodity (the attention economy), it makes sense to present your content quickly, clearly and in an interesting way.

The social media space has gone infographic crazy over the past year with infographics hitting the front page of social news sites daily and the biggest blogs in the industry syndicating them to their readerships.

8. Social Media in Business – Fortune 100 Statistics (iStrategy)

This graphic takes a look at the Fortune 100′s Social Media presence – breaking down conversation marketing, video marketing, blogging, and social networking channels. The content is developed to bring in iStrategy’s target audience, generate interest, and word of mouth marketing for the conference.

9. The CMO’s Guide To The Social Media Landscape (CMO.com)

Similar to the iStrategy infographic, CMO’s content is closely tied to their audience’s needs – Giving a detailed breakdown of the social media landscape. On the page itself you are able to download the infographic as a resource. Not only is this great linkbait, it’s also a word of mouth tool that can be passed around in the office via PDF.

10. Facts about the IRS (Online Schools)

OnlineSchools.org have been pushing out interesting infographics for a while now. I’m not sure what their Digital Strategy is, but I do know ranking at the top of Google for “online schools” is going to be super profitable at some point (~240,000 US searches a month for this term alone). Look at how easy they make it for you to embed their infographics – Brilliant Execution.

irs viral infographic

11. Are you Password Protected? (CXO EU)

How do you generate hard to attain links from top industry tech blogs, increase online visibility, develop audience, and generate conversations around your brand? You create an infographic based on a breaking story of one of the biggest social media application security blunders in recent history.

password protected viral infographic

12. 7 Secrets of Social Media Conversion (Unbounce)

I included this infographic for one reason – It led to a conversion; that conversion was me. I was originally linked on Twitter from a well respected peer to a blog post featuring this infographic on the 7 secrets of social media conversion (Linkbait title FTW!). It led me to FlowTown’s social profile service which I checked out, and became a paying customer shortly after. That’s the power of a well executed viral linkbait infographic.

7 secrets of social media conversion viral infographic

13. Celebrating 2 Years Infographic (BuySellAds.com)

BuySellAds.com – a platform for buying and selling ad for publishers and advertisers (as the name says) created an infographic on their meteoric rise – Not only did this make for great social proof, it was a great advertisement that went viral in their niche.

buysellads-viral linkbait

14. How Popular Are Mobile Phones Today? (Cha Cha)

This infographic is part of a strategic search play by Cha Cha. Looking at the blog post, it’s a well optimized article with great internal links. The infographic is the linkbait and with clever seeding on social news sites it will help bring in 100′s of optimised links thus building the authority of this page and it’s search rankings.

According to SEMRush Cha Cha are ranking for 354,000 key phrases – That’s alot of ways for potential customers to find your service.

mobile phones viral infographic

Widget Linkbait

Widgets are the new frontier of content distribution when it comes to social media marketing. A widget is viral in nature as it contains an embed code that enables anyone to republish it on their website. From games, to content syndication channels, to quizzes, widgets can be syndicated far, and give your brand a huge reach if you decide to integrate with 3rd party platforms (iGoogle, Facebook, Boxee etc).

Before engaging in widget linkbait – I’d recommend reading this blog post.

15. Games for Your Site (HeyZapp)

Heyzap enables game developers to distribute their social games outside of social networking sites and onto the wider web, not only whilst retaining the game’s social functions & features, but also connecting the user’s many social graphs.

Anyone looking to “embed games” on their site via searching Google – will find HeyZap thanks to their great linking practice.


heyzap.com – embed games

16. Executive Training Widget (MeetTheBoss.Tv)

Have great niche content? MeetTheBoss.Tv do. This widget enables users of the website to embed the latest videos on their blog, and at the same time provide a tightly optimised backlink to the site. Integrating these kind of widgets with a well executed outreach program to top influences and you are set for explosive growth.

17. Search Widget (Twitter)

Who needs viral widgets when you have Ashton Kutcher promoting your brand on Billboards? According to Majestic SEO – Twitter has 4,934,595,907+ inbound links with a good portion of these coming from Twitter Widgets & 3rd party apps. I wonder how many people signed up via a widget link?

18. News where and when you need it (Reuters)

News + Widgets = Viral. Take a look at iGoogle, Netvibes, PageFlakes etc – The top performing widgets are news based.

I was recently inundated with requests from various publishers to embed their widget on a recent clients network of sites. They were promoting their news widget, telling me it would improve the sites users online experience. I enjoyed their pitches – This is a clever outreach method and can give your site great inbound links when placed on relevant sites.

That’s a wrap – 18 examples of awesome viral linkbait.

Let us know what you think, and if you have any more examples just post them in the comments below.

  • Craig Eisenberg

    Hello Sean. Excellent blog post!

    “Did You Know?” is one of my favourite viral videos of all time. It's quite similar to the grasshopper one. Here is the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUMf7FWGdCw

  • Scented Candles

    I liked the post as well. I think my favorite video was the one about the iPad!! Thanks for the post!!

  • http://twitter.com/Atul_Kashyap Atul Kumar Kashyap

    i agree you. Now this time brands doing our promotion through social media like twitter, FB etc. Info graphic is informative and creative method to understand articles easily.Viral Marketing is also a good resource to do marketing. i like your post…thanks

  • http://twitter.com/SeanMcColgan Sean McColgan

    @Craig

    Love that video – thanks for sharing.

    @Atul Thanks for stopping by -agree viral marketing is great. Oldspice probably just executed the best viral campaign this year http://tcrn.ch/cIZRLn

  • http://www.verticalmeasures.com/search-optimization/seo-celebrity-look-alikes/ Kaila

    Wow, superb list! We've definitely seem some good viral content out there on the web in the past two years…heck in the past few months there has been some good stuff!

  • Terra

    Good info, but poor grammar and spelling mistakes will always weaken your position. Spend more time on copy review, and it'll pay off for you.

  • http://chuckreynolds.us Chuck Reynolds

    You missed the best video one of all… Old Spice guy :O

  • http://www.whichwebdesigncompany.com/uk/profile/firstfound Andy @ FirstFound

    It's amazing how popular infographics have become recently. A year or so ago, it was all viral video. Now I'm seeing more and more graphs.

  • http://twitter.com/SeanMcColgan Sean McColgan

    @Kaila Thank you – indeed we have. Marketing spend on viral activities both for B2C & B2B is going through the roof right now due to the scalability nature of it. We can expect even more great campaigns in the coming months.

    @Chuck I actually removed it from the post – this was originally originally titled “53 examples of awesome viral linkbait”. However I wanted to get the post out this year :)

    Have enjoyed the oldspice marketing campaign – specifically the reddit crowdsourced http://oldspicevoicemail.com/ pure genius.

    @Andy indeed the rise of infographics has been astonishing so much so there are now even infographics about infographics http://bit.ly/c8R6vc

    Huge backlash right now on infographics in the social news space due to voulme and quality issues. Expect some interesting innovations in this area soon. NYT are at the forefront that's for sure.

  • http://twitter.com/ScottRWells Scott R. Wells

    The “Entrepreneurs Can Change The World” video has been a huge inspiration to many within the home-based business. Infographics have been around forever, but have definitely been promoted more heavily of late–another good example of a creative Infograph for link building — http://bit.ly/linktoberfest

  • http://www.webcreationuk.com/advancedseo.htm UK Advanced SEO

    Was looking for some ideas, brilliant examples Sean. Thanks a bunch!

  • http://affygility.com/affytrac/ Compliance Management Software

    I would agree that the 3 categories above make for good viral linkbait, I would also add that a quiz make for good bait as well. Also, be careful on the infographics when grabbing from other sites. I heard on a podcast today that someone created a inforgraphic with a lot of links hidden in the graphic so they got about 2,000 new backlinks in only a couple of days.

  • http://twitter.com/JSallett Juliet Sallette

    Sean,
    Awesome article. Thanks for highlighting 18 great examples of viral marketing and link bait. It gives the marketer food for thought and sparks creative juices.

  • http://www.facebook.com/webdesignchicagous John David

     Wonderful many things to look after, i like grasshopper.com videos especially thanks for sharing.

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  • Jenvivian

    I just wrote a case study for a course i’m taking on how Blendtec generates interest using social media and then tracks their success using metrics

    http://smbp.uwaterloo.ca/2012/03/blendtec-stirs-up-interest-using-social-media-and-measures-it/

  • mike

    Thanks for sharing this informative post about Viral linkbaiting. The videos you have shared is also very useful. I agree with you Infographic Viral Linkbait is quite popular nowadays & its a good way to present your content to audience. I would like to recommend a website http://www.pereponordic.com there one can learn more methods how to promote our business.