The Ira Glass Guide to Link Bait

How do you take basic, boring facts and turn them into compelling content that attracts and holds attention? Content so compelling that it also sparks a social media conversation?

Ira Glass is the host of NPR’s This American Life, and in this video he lays out how to produce compelling video, audio, and text content. Notice his use of the word “bait” for those who think link bait is only about controversy and nastiness.

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Reader Comments (41)

  1. says

    Fantastic video Brian – what a great find!

    Just thinking… Combine this with a Zeigarnik-effect (incomplete action that needs to be completed) call-to-action, and it would be a killer salesletter strategy.


  2. says

    Interesting. I like how he explains there are two parts… the story and the moment of reflection. You have to combine creativity in with presenting information. If you put both parts together correctly, then you should have a good link bait post.

    Then all you need to do is use the tools to get that post in front of the people who will enjoy, and benefit from it.

  3. says

    One of my favorite parts in this series he did (also on You Tube) is how we get better over time.

    Having taste is one thing. Being able to translate that into something of value and that’s compelling, takes time and effort.

  4. says

    It seemed to me that Ira’s Anecdotal presentation, was fabulous and mind grabbing, and then his Moment of Reflection was totally anti-climactic! LOL!

    Still, it was a super video and very helpful!

    Thanks a lot.

  5. says

    Especially useful for understanding the underlying structures in creating compelling narrative that drives readership. Ira Glass broke this down very concisely and made it easy for this new blogger to begin correlating this into real world use. Ah, the life of a blogging pilgrim!
    Thank you for posting and enlightening.

  6. says

    What a treasure of a video. Fundamentals are huge. I can’t imagine it is ever a mistake to hone those, or to offer up a really good look at them.
    Thank you for this. I was struggling with some content that this may just help.

    @ Tony- you said a mouthful there. Reminds me of that apology from some author (I cannot remember who) for such a long letter, but the author did not have time to be brief. Good writing takes time, relevant and compelling writing, phew that’s a skill set to master huh?

  7. says

    When I made the leap from learning fiction in college to going to work at a huge ad agency, these were the types of lessons that carried over the most. People want stories they can identify with. To what end you are using stories may change, but the effectiveness of being able to spin a good yarn never will.

  8. says

    No matter how long we’ve been doing what we’ve been doing, there’s more to learn. Thanks for posting!

    @ David…tell us more about your news channel please?

  9. says

    This is the type of lesson that can easily be used for blogging. It is such a learning process and this gem of information makes me understand why some posts are popular and others just don’t wash. Thanks!

  10. says

    I soooo love Ira Glass! Thank you for turning me on to these YouTube videos of him. I, too, loved the other video he offers about how it takes time and not to give up too soon.

  11. says

    Brian …

    Simple yet amazing!

    Ira’s video has helped me to figure out how to get a story from my head to my heart … and then onto paper in a way that will allow my readers to board the train, enjoy the trip, and reach a fabulous destination.

    Write On!

  12. says

    Wonderful find, Brian!

    Ironic how most useful advice is really just common sense and something that “we all know but are too lazy to act upon”. If one were to give a summary of this video, there would not be a whole lot to talk about (well unless one really likes to talk :). Yet following the advice proves beneficial. Thanks again!

  13. says

    I agree with Lena, it sounds like common sense yet it’s such powerful advice. One of that makes you go, “Hey, I knew that,” but still sounds refreshing.

    Great find, B.C.

  14. says

    I don’t usually do ‘negative’ and try to keep any negative thoughts to myself, but am I alone in finding the video monotonal and repetitious, without the focused language of written posts here?

    I’m definitely not anti-video as it is my business, but I don’t want to listen to rambling, and I find it difficult to give respect to an expert dressed scruffily … despite my own scruffy dress style!

    Maybe it’s my age – yikes – help!

  15. says

    Thank you so much for posting this video, he so clearly explains the elements of telling a story. Sometimes it is the most simple things which make the most impact. What great insight!! I think Ira may be my new nerd crush….

    By the way, if anyone saw the season finale of This American Life about “John”, you can see Ira’s principals in their holy perfection.

  16. says

    Thanks for posting Brian, a superb video. I always enjoy your posts. So true how the art of storytelling weaves into so many parts of our lives.

  17. says

    Wow, this was really an eye opener. It’s very interesting how many different ideas and thoughts come together, to effectively sell/teach online. If you can get it all down and iron out the details, man oh man, you can bring campaigns full-circle and really kill it conversion-wise.

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