Halloween was a pretty big deal when you were a kid, right? First you needed to choose the right costume. The better the costume, the more candy you thought you would get. Then you had to scope out your neighborhood and prospect the places that handed out the best candy. Who wants to go to Mrs. Jones house to get an apple when Mr. Rogers gives out 3 packs of M&Ms each! Once all of the preparation is out of the way, you are set to go trick-or-treating.


Much like trick-or-treating, choosing the right type of content bait loosely follows the same process. First determine who you would like your target audience to be. Then figure out what kind of content bait will engage them. Once you have established the type of bait and created it, you need to find out where your target audience is hanging out. Once you find where they have been hanging out, the last step is knocking on the virtual doors of other websites.


Now, note that I have oversimplified this process significantly, but only because the purpose of this article isn’t to teach you how to create and pitch content bait. It is to break down the types of content bait that actually work. I can attest that one of the worst feelings in our industry is creating something you think is magnificent and will yield crazy awesome results, and having it flop.


So without further ado, here is my list of the top 6 content bait ideas…that work.

1)   Curated Lists

How many times have you typed “top x blue widgets” into the Google search bar? Finding the top X lists are the easiest way to get others opinions on the very best without having to do a lot of research on your own. However, it does no good to create a list that has already been created. So think out of the box and create a list that is inspired from a demand in the industry. Another little hint to a successful curated list; don’t use the nicely rounded numbers like 5, 10 or 15. Use odd numbers that you don’t typically see in lists. While people will skip over the things they’ve seen a million times before, their eye will catch on the list that stands out. So, next time you are creating a list, use “the top 7 best candy bars in history”.


2)   Polls

Depending on the audience you are trying to engage, these polls can include serious questions or humorous ones. For some reason people tend to get all fired up about “Which candy bar is the best”. Ask this question to the right audience and all of the sudden you have 30 people arguing over which candy bar is their favorite. To escalate the polls even further and encourage more engagement, you could offer up a prize. Something like, “Take this poll and be entered to win 5 of your favorite candy bars!” The key to successful polls is to immediately get the ball rolling – i.e. start off with saying what your favorite candy bar is and have a co-worker do the same. This immediately creates an invitation to an imagined challenge. Human nature compels us to share our opinions, especially if they differ from someone else’s. This holds especially true for the Internet. There is no greater feeling than being able to stand up to that snickers loving hypocrite while still hiding behind your computer defending the skittles name.


3)   Quizzes

Similar to polls, where people voice their opinions, quizzes give the user the ability to test his or her knowledge. We all love to think we are born geniuses, and what better way to feed that notion than by a good ol’ fashioned quiz? Throw in a little incentive; win $25 to the Willy Wonka factory, and people are immediately hooked. Now bear in mind, these silly quizzes only work if geared towards the right audience. If you are targeting a more serious crowd, create a quiz about a trending topic in their industry.


4)   Interactive Tools & Widgets

Who doesn’t want to answer a couple of questions and find out which candy bar they are?! Ok, maybe a silly example but creating widgets that follow this theme tend to generate a decent amount of links. A more relevant example would be developing a calorie calculator. Create a tool where you can input a snack and show that eating a candy bar contains the same amount of calories as eating a single-serving bag of popcorn. This widget will most likely be shared with their friends because no one is going to believe that a candy bar contains the same amount of calories as a bag of popcorn.


5)   Pictures

It has been proven that images receive better engagement than any other content medium when shared on social networks. Create a meme about candy, host it on your website, and then share it socially. If it’s relevant and includes humor, chances are you are going to get some links out of it. This content medium is also the least time consuming and does not require a developer to create it.


6)   Infographics

When we were younger, one of the best type of books were picture books. It was a way to digest all of the same information but by looking at colorful engaging pictures. For all of us “mature” individuals, the new picture book is an infographic. Infographics provide a medium to host good and factual information within an image. Instead of reading the 5 page article on why the Hershey bar reins supreme over all other candy, it’s much more appealing to look at the cool graphic about the Hershey bar while still learning all of the fun facts that were in the article.

Moral of the Story

Content bait is a creative and engaging way to get links back to your site. The best part about this type of content is that it can be posted on both your website and your social networks. This helps increase the exposure of the content and the audience that you are able to reach.

Let us know what type of content bait has worked for you!