It’s safe to say that even the humblest among us can sometimes appreciate a nice ego boost. Who doesn’t want to feel like their talent is recognized and their name respected?
That’s why ego bait content works: by painting certain influencers and thought leaders in a flattering light, it’s possible to gain more exposure and earn more links. Want to learn the right way to use ego bait content so you can achieve such results? Then this is the guide for you.
- What Is Ego Bait Content?
- Types of Ego Bait
- Best Practices for Ego Bait Content
- Ego Bait Tactics to Avoid
What Is Ego Bait Content?
The word ego has multiple definitions. In psychoanalytic theory, for instance, the ego is “that portion of the human personality which is experienced as the ‘self’ or ‘I’ and is in contact with the external world through perception.”
In the context of ego bait, though, ego can be defined by its more common meaning: “Your idea or opinion of yourself, especially your feeling of your own importance and ability.”
Most of us want to feel better about ourselves and our skills, and that’s why ego bait works. Ego bait is a tried-and-true marketing practice that involves talking about someone in a positive way in order to gain their attention. In other words, it means baiting people into action by boosting their egos.
What kinds of actions can people take, exactly? Usually, it has to do with spreading the word about the content in which they were mentioned. For example, they could:
- send the content directly to friends and family;
- talk about the content on social media;
- get in touch with the content’s creator; or
- link to the content within their own blog posts, email newsletters, and other such material.
Depending on which option they go with, those actions can directly benefit the site hosting the content in which they were mentioned. To see how, let’s suppose you published a blog post that positively reviewed a thought leader’s book. In response, that thought leader then linked to your post on their Twitter page.
With the help of that Twitter link, you’ll receive:
- increased exposure and brand recognition;
- more site traffic;
- a high-quality organic backlink; and
- greater website authority.
A real-world example of this can be found on SparkToro CEO Rand Fishkin’s Twitter. There, he reposted a tweet linking to a company’s landing page and thanking Rand for inspiring its headline:
So although the creator of the original tweet (Procket CEO, Stuart Balcombe) had only about 1,000 followers as of August 2021, Rand’s retweet served to expose the linked landing page to an audience of nearly 500,000 people.
And if Stuart hadn’t cited Rand as his headline’s inspiration, that retweet may never have happened at all.
Types of Ego Bait
There are many creative ways to work ego bait into your site’s content. Some of these include:
- one-on-one interviews;
- event coverage;
- expert roundups; and
- product or service reviews.
You’ll need a different approach for each of those categories:
Since interviews can provide readers with valuable insights, unique content they can’t find anywhere else, and information about public figures they care about, you can benefit greatly from publishing them on your site.
If you’re just getting started with interviewing, you may want to consider using Help a Reporter Out (HARO). This service connects journalists, writers, and bloggers with more than one million sources. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with interviewing people via HARO, you can move on to reaching out directly.
As you do, be sure to pursue people who are highly relevant to your audience’s needs. Also, remember to be realistic—if your site hasn’t featured many interviews before, then you’re unlikely to land interviews with industry big-shots right off the bat. But if you keep it up and conduct thoughtful, high-quality interviews, you’ll soon be able to snag more well-known interviewees.
There’s a reason why listicles are so popular, and it has nothing to do with dwindling attention spans. People simply love lists, and they have well before Buzzfeed started publishing them.
When creating your own listicles, you can incorporate ego bait by listing thought leaders and/or the products they have to offer, such as their companies, books or podcasts.
Always focus on providing genuine insights your readers will find valuable in addition to ego bait content. If you’re creating a list of the top ten content management systems, for example, make sure that you thoroughly research every CMS on the list and give your honest opinion on each.
Want to create timely ego bait content? Use social media and email newsletters to stay on top of upcoming events that influencers in your field will be participating in. This will allow you to provide thorough coverage before your competitors.
For instance, you could write about interesting quotes you’ve heard at a current industry convention, or you could create an in-depth review of a thought leader’s most recent livestream or webinar.
But before you start rushing to publish event coverage pieces, remember to always double-check for accuracy. After all, your ego bait content won’t do you much good if it misspells someone’s name or misquotes them entirely.
Similar to a listicle, expert roundups serve to gather information and opinions from a variety of sources about a specific topic, challenge or question.
Be sure to carefully choose the experts you feature to ensure they’re authoritative and have unique perspectives on the topic at hand. The benefit of this type of content is that it allows you to create ego bait for multiple people in just one article.
Product or Service Reviews
Reviews are some of the most popular types of content in terms of both video and written content, so why not capitalize on that while simultaneously offering up some irresistible ego bait?
Simply post a positive review for a product or service that an influencer provides, demonstrate your knowledge of that product or service, and link your audience to the influencer’s site or social media profile.
However, it’s crucial that you resist the urge to give perfect ratings and glowing praise to every influencer in your field. Instead, concentrate on creating genuine reviews that can in turn lead to genuine relationships.
Best Practices for Ego Bait Content
If you plan on creating ego bait content, then you should know it’s not as simple as using flattery to buy traffic. These are the ego bait best practices you need to know.
Make a List of Contacts
Before doing anything else, you need to make a list of the people who your ego bait content will be directed toward.
You can do so by pulling names from a variety of sources. Try gathering possible recipients from:
- your LinkedIn contacts;
- your Twitter following/followers;
- relevant Facebook groups; and
- speakers at industry events.
Don’t be afraid to nab ideas from your competitors, either. If you see a competing company successfully use ego bait to get engagement from a particular influencer or thought leader, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t create ego bait directed toward that same person.
While you’re assembling your list of contacts, be sure to keep things organized by noting each person’s full name, social media handles, contact information, and workplace.
Do Your Research and Develop a Plan
Once you’ve compiled a list, it’s crucial that you conduct further research into every person’s areas of expertise and recent professional projects.
This research will be instrumental in helping you decide what your plan should be and how your ego bait content should be crafted.
For instance, let’s say you’re considering directing ego bait content toward two people at the same company, both of whom have about 10,000 Twitter followers. A cursory glance would suggest that both person A and person B would be equally good choices. But further research could reveal that person B has just published a book and will soon be embarking on a book tour.
In such a scenario, your research would help you determine that it will be more worthwhile to create ego bait content that’s centered around person B’s new book.
Remember that there’s no rule saying you can’t get in touch with your chosen influencer before publishing your ego bait content. In fact, doing so will allow you to gain valuable insights and build a stronger relationship.
Let’s continue with the above example of creating ego bait around person B’s new book. Before you get started, you could shoot person B an email or direct message asking:
- if they’re okay with you mentioning them and their book;
- if there are any quotes, in particular, they’d like you to include;
- which site or social media profiles of theirs they’d like you to link to; and
- how they prefer to be referred to.
They’re sure to appreciate your consideration, and you can confidently proceed knowing that your content will be custom-tailored to suit their (and their ego’s) wants and needs.
Create Your Content
After getting the go-ahead from your chosen influencer, you can finally move on to actually creating your ego bait content.
This will be the same as any other content creation process, with the only difference being that you’ll have to bear in mind your ultimate goal is to earn engagement.
As always, remember to stick to the principles of high-quality content creation, including:
- following a previously established content strategy;
- catering to your audience;
- offering genuinely valuable insights to readers;
- keeping things interesting with visual content in addition to written content;
- adding internal links wherever relevant; and
- optimizing for featured snippets.
Get in Touch
Contacting your chosen influencer after your ego bait content goes live is just as important as doing so before you click “publish.”
With this approach, you’ll be able to show that you care while also giving a gentle reminder of your content. After all, no one can share a link to something they don’t know exists.
Ego Bait Tactics to Avoid
If you use the wrong techniques, ego bait content can actually have the opposite effect that you’re looking for.
To ensure it doesn’t, always avoid these questionable tactics.
Losing Sight of Quality
It may be tempting to crank out as much ego bait content as possible in an effort to get the maximum amount of engagement, but if you do so then you may very well end up shooting yourself in the foot.
Think of it this way: if someone published a sloppy, low-quality article that happened to include a mention of you, would you want to show it off to your social media followers? It’s not likely, and the same applies to the people who your ego bait content will be directed toward.
Neglecting to Personalize
Personalization can go a long way toward making people feel special and appreciated. On the other hand, a total lack of personalization can make your ego bait content seem hollow and unauthentic.
To ensure that doesn’t happen, always do thorough research beforehand and effectively personalize your ego bait content. For instance, you can accomplish this by accurately describing a person’s specialties, referencing their past work, or including relevant quotes.
Pushing and Pestering
Few things are more off-putting than someone continuously pestering you to link their article, so this is a tactic you should steer clear of at all costs.
Remember, it’s enough to simply let people know that your ego bait content exists and speaks of them in a positive way. If that’s not enough to convince them to link to it, nothing will be. So don’t bother sending a barrage of emails or tweets—instead, use your time wisely and move on to the next piece of content in your queue.
Finally, remember to refrain from publishing ego bait content over and over again. Avoiding this will ensure that your site retains its authority and doesn’t become known as an ego bait factory.
As an added bonus, if you only publish ego bait content occasionally then the people it’s directed toward will feel even more valued and unique.
Feed Their Egos to Fuel Your Rankings
Egos often get a bad rap, but for SEO practitioners looking to boost a site’s rankings, they can be a beautiful thing. With little more than a genuine compliment and a quick email, you’ll be well on your way to earning more backlinks and widening your brand’s reach.
Screenshots by author / August 2021