Linkbaiting is dead: Why social media needs to kill the FUD

Linkbaiting is dead: Why social media needs to kill the FUD

Summary: While we might think it's acceptable to try to scare each other into reading, we likely should consider who we might scare out of buying

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Did I get your attention?

Linkbaiting, of course, is not dead. Nor is Twitter, nor blogging nor IM nor public relations, nor any other service or social media trend that has been blindly pushed to an early grave by overzealous bloggers.

OK, perhaps communicating via stone tablets is dead...

Linkbaiting, however, is getting a bad reputation and its because it's being abused. Sure, anyone who writes a blog or runs a Web site wants to improve his or her SEO. However is it worth the few extra links into your site to operate with FUD-based headlines and conversation starters -- thereby potentially jeopardizing your credibility?

The idea for this rant started this morning when Chris Brogan posted on Twitter that he weighed in on the "Is blogging dead?" piece that Fast Company published in response to a flagrant WIRED Magazine article. My comment was:

"I've started to automatically discount ANY blog that claims ANYTHING is dead. Tired of the FUD / linkbait."

It's true. If I see a "is XYZ dead?" type headline or even a conversation on FriendFeed, I won't even go near it. I find FUD blogging to be lazy and unfounded. It's one thing to predict the future of a software or service but it's another to declare one dead only because you feel happy and fuzzy about a new one -- which is what seems to happen most of the time.

Social media is in a dangerous position right now. We're facing a down economy. Social media is safe and warm inside the Silicon Valley bubble no more. Companies are questioning whether or not social media or social software is a worthwhile investment. So while we might think it's fun and acceptable to try to scare each other into reading, we likely should consider who we might scare out of buying.

Update 10/23/08 5:49 p.m. -- For those not in the know SEO is Search Engine Optimization and FUD is Fear Uncertainty Doubt.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Browser

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25 comments
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  • Swallows

    I think communicating by swallows carrying items is dead. Unless they are the considerably larger African Swallow, which can carry a coconut.

    The problem I have is a simple one - what's a blog [i]for[/i]? I see so many of them who are desperately trying to bump up their visibility with various gimmicks, yet it's not obvious what they are going through the effort for.

    Do they think they'll somehow make money off of this? Practically no one makes money off of their blog. It's ridiculous. Even the ones that do make money are often vapid at best.

    I write my blog because I think I have something to say. I direct traffic to it in hopes of influencing the public debate and making it a bit more intelligent. I hope that someone will see that I am reasonably intelligent and give me a job. So far, no work has come from it, but I at least get my message out.

    I can't do that by playing stupid games for temporary blips in the stats. And I can't see how it benefits anyone else, either.
    wabbitoid
    • People will never change.

      Shameless attention seekers will always outnumber the honest and legitimate voices.
      T1Oracle
      • RE: Linkbaiting is dead: Why social media needs to kill the FUD

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        just-do-it
  • RE: Linkbaiting is dead: Why social media needs to kill the FUD

    I think you are definitely not alone in saying that when you see an "is XYZ dead???? type headline you won???t even go near it. I think more and more people are going to get desensitized to these types of headlines and start tuning them out.

    It's like when banner advertising got popular you saw banners popping up everywhere and now our eyes move right past them like they aren't there.

    If linkbaiting and FUD headlines continue, which I'm sure they will, we'll see more and more people ignoring them and becoming more cautious about the things they choose to read. Then, we'll see people start to turn back to only reading articles that come from the large corporate news sources because they'll have more trust in the content of these sites and won't feel like they are trying to trick them into reading something just so they'll boost their visits or click their ads.

    I truly hope it doesn't come to that because this age of new media and social media has opened up so many new streams from where we get information and how we communicate. It would be incredibly disappointing if it we start its downfall by lessening its credibility.

    twiiter@jason_z
    jzimmer76
  • RE: Linkbaiting is dead: Why social media needs to kill the FUD

    The author of this article is a terrible journalist.
    You should never assume your readers know what all
    your acronyms stand for and not give their meaning in
    parentheses after the first usage. This is a basic
    rule of writing. What the hell is SEO and FUD?
    jsanko
    • So you didn't notice that ZDNet is about IT? Two words, Google it. nt

      nt
      T1Oracle
      • Thanks for the support

        Plus, I write for my audience. Those are very common terms in our world.
        Jennifer Leggio
        • FUD/SEO

          Not everyone in your audience knows all of these abbreviations, be kind, put the full words in.
          dhays
    • Failure to provide glossy full-color pamphlets with every blog

      does not constitute terrible journalism.

      For that matter, blogging ain't journalism.

      Saying a blogger is a terrible journalist is like saying a skydiver is a terrible passenger because he keeps falling out of the plane.
      bmerc
      • Perhaps better yet...

        Saying a passenger on a plane is a terrible sky diver. While all sky divers are a passenger to some degree, there are many many passengers who do not sky dive and never intend to sky dive and if they did, most of those would be anything from terrible to not very good at it. But they may be great passengers none the less.

        All online reporters are like a blogger to some degree, but there are many many bloggers who are not online reporters, and never even intend to be considered as an online reporter, and out of those, if they actually had to be an online reporter most of them would likely be anywhere from terrible to not very good at it. But they may be great bloggers none the less.
        Cayble
  • I've seen plenty of delcarations of death

    I've seen plenty of declarations of "dead" when it's not plenty of times. In ZDNet even it seems to happen a bit. Windows is "dead" The OS is "dead" anything not web 2.0 is "dead."

    It's a joke. It's a big joke. Everything we know is dead, everything is moving to the cloud, yadda yadda yadda.

    I take it with a truck full of salt these days.
    CobraA1
  • So in other words, saying things are dead is dead.

    So in other words, saying things are dead is dead.

    Nicely put. ;-)
    Anonymous Benefactor
    • Yup

      I wish I could've made the point without saying anything was dead. ;-)
      Jennifer Leggio
  • RE: Linkbaiting is dead: Why social media needs to kill the FUD

    Jennifer,

    Great article - its funny because when I read the
    headline, I actually sighed because I hate the "its
    dead" hype as well and thought this was just another
    one of those articles. (Kind of like when I cringe
    every time I see a post on the PR industry being
    dead.)

    You are right, we need to not being scaring people
    away from social media - some companies will read that
    article and base their decision on investing in social
    media solely on that. As you know, I love Twitter, but
    one of the things I like about it, is thats how I find
    out about good blogs.

    I always enjoy reading your posts because they are
    sound, non-self congratulatory and anti-hype. You are
    definitely one of the better tech journalists out
    there because you don't always drink the kool-aid and
    you tell it like it is.

    --lisa
    lisa@...
    • Thanks Lisa

      I appreciate the kind words very much. I try very hard to "think outside the bubble" but sometimes it's hard, since I live in it. I think it's important, especially with the economic woes we are facing.
      Jennifer Leggio
  • Is or is not?

    Talk about FUD, label the story with an "is dead" then
    state in the first sentence "is not dead". So what is
    it? Or are you spreading FUD?????
    Narg
    • It's called irony.

      :-)
      Jennifer Leggio
      • No Jennifer, here on ZDNet, there is no irony

        Everything your opponents say must always be taken absolutely verbatim. However whatever you yourself say is always subject to revision and reinterpretation.

        This is the ZDNet Talkback way... you must learn it.
        bmerc
        • Hm

          I didn't realize I have "opponents."
          Jennifer Leggio
      • Yes, I know what irony is ...

        I graduated fron the Thomas Hardy School of Physical Fitness. Every day we were pumping irony!
        stillgolfing