How Crimes and Bit**es stealing phones helped me build links

A friend of mine a couple of months back was the victim of a mugging and had his iPad stolen. While speaking with police and helping them track down the thieves, I had asked him if he had a particular app downloaded on his iPad to find it with GPS (I thought of this because one of our clients built a similar app on the android platform). While helping him get through the unfortunate event, sitting in cop cars, etc I wasn't thinking at all about links, but about 2 days later it hit me there's an opportunity there...I couldn't even help myself, because I look at the world through a link builders lens, and as such I think I'll always see opportunity for links, even in tragedy.

So here's how I turned this horrible event into an opportunity to build links for a client and how my team came together to help me take it up a notch.

It all starts with Twitter search…I was wondering why kind of frequency do people post to the world that they had their phone stolen:

Step 1: Search for the keywords "stole my phone" - look at the results, I liked what I saw...a ton of activity - on average every 7-10 minutes someone updated their feed with that exact phrase

Step 2: Tried other variants: "Lost my contacts", "lost my phone", "lost my droid", etc. As I found more and more good stuff, I know I had to share this with people who could make this even better or shoot holes through it. GOLD! Lost my phone was posted on average every minute...

Step 3: Shared with my link builders at SEER, which brought us to...

What do "bitches" have to do with a stolen phone??

When using twitter search to search the phrase "stole my phone", you can see that every few minutes a tweet is made related to these keywords. I realized that these particular words would be beneficial to link building with this client and its app, and we could possibly use it for a contest or was stolen? Tell us about it, follow us, and we'll pick one person every day to get a droid x (or whatever).

I turned to the team and presented my idea to Napoleon and Adam so we could bounce some ideas back and forth. As we brainstormed, I thought I had another good one...I thought of how much guys hated it when a girlfriend would look through their phones so I punched in the phrase "girlfriend stole my phone" but it yielded no results, to which Adam suggested we change the phrase to "bitch stole my phone." Because as he said, when your girlfriend steals your phone, many guys are not referring to her as their "girlfriend" at that time. Two seconds later - we got activity! (yes I recognize that my client wasn't going to go for that, as it was way off brand)

BOO-YAH!! we got tweets for bitch stole my phone...See? Even a great idea still has room for improvement.

We presented the idea to the client...then 2 months later Napoleon was thinking about it again...and brought Adam and I back together...he had a bite now too and wanted us to shoot holes...

Blogging about your stolen item Later, Napoleon came to me and brought up the fact that some people were also writing full blog posts about their phones being lost and stolen - just run a few queries on Google blog search, you'll see them. Everything was written from people confronting the thieves to tracking down their call logs and calling the unknown numbers to investigate.

Why not turn this into something beneficial for the client (and the bloggers) by making these blogs into a contest. Let these bloggers know that if they write about how their phone was lost or stolen and how this phone finder app from said client is important to keep their phone (and sanity) safe, and the best post wins a brand new phone, complete with the paid version of the app!

Client is happy, blogger is happy, and all is well in the world, especially with the SEER team who have once again come together to make a great idea.

I believe in scaling link opportunities so whether it is a good or bad outcome I like to dissect how we did that work, so we can do it again, here are the four takeaways…

1. Having our team under one roof: The advantage of having the team all in one room as opposed to over Skype, email , IM, etc. works wonders. When you are face-to-face it makes it not only easier but more effective to brainstorm ideas to your team - I have never had a brainstorm over the phone/IM/Skype ever be as fruitful as in person.

2. Team vs. individual: Teams have the advantage of working off of one another to reach a common goal. When I came up with an initial idea, I was able to turn to the SEER team to look deeper into my idea and was able to see things that I wouldn't have been able to see on my own, taking it to a completely different level. To quote Ryunosuke Satoro, "Individually we are one drop. Together we are an ocean." And by team I don't mean a group of interns doing what you say, I mean a real team with real pros that challenge one another and understand that its better to present an idea internally and have your team kill it than to present it to the client and have them kill it.

3. Team exposure to multiple clients: When you work with an agency you are getting people who are constantly brainstorming different ideas for multiple clients every single day. Someone working for one company brainstorms for one company, so it is not fair to expect them to develop the breadth of ideas because they often have fewer stimuli (projects) to work on. Why would someone working for an automotive content site spend their day building links in HR software, android anti virus apps, sex toys, psychics, wine and cheese pairings - they wouldn't. But when you build links across industries every day, you can't help but see more, and as a result potentially get links for clients you would not have otherwise thought of.

So it makes me even more adamant about keeping a breadth of clients we work with across industries as it helps us get more value from 1 idea if we can get links for 6 client

4. Invest time to know your client - You can't just roll through ideas that scale for anyone looking to rank well from a Psychic Hotline to a bodybuilding supplement. As much as quality scalable linking ideas like this one or crappy scalable link strategies work in any industry any time. Getting the links your competitors can not often results from asking your clients a ton of questions and investing the time to get to know their business and marketing strategies well enough to even allow yourself to develop creative ideas like this.

Spend time getting to know your client, don't always look for scalable strategies like articles, or 1800 directories, as your sole way to success. This also keeps you from feeling like some outsourced agency and more like an integrated partner.

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Wil Reynolds
Wil Reynolds
CEO & Vice President