11
May
2010
77 Experts in 3 Group Interviews: A Quick Comparison for Content-Based Link Builders

I believe in group interviews for link building as well as industry relationship building. They're not great for lead generation in my experience, however. Despite their failings, I believe they are an excellent direction for content-based link builders (or whatever you should choose to call them :).

I've recently read and gotten very excited about two specimens in the Group Interview family, and wanted to share them and compare them for you. I've thrown in our most successful non-client group interview for good measure...

>> Interview: 12 Top Online Entrepreneurs Share How Hard They Work
Tweets: 306 Results in Backtweets
YSE Page Links: 849
Comments: 78
Publish Date: May 4th, 2010

What it does well:
1) Fantastic expert presentation. Each expert gets a picture and their own anchor text of choice (I assume) right up there at the top.
2) Nice, tight question focus. And many simple questions that are primarily interesting only because these are internet stars (how many hours a week do you work?).

Where it falls short:
1) No clear sense of take away, or clear sense of hierarchy to the overall experience of reading the piece. I know that's not necessarily the point, but this is something that irks me about the group interviews I've done, and something that Wiep handles nicely - through careful question engineering - in Link Value Factors. This piece could have benefited from a poll/graph or chart and a stern admonishment to most people to work harder ;)

>> (44 Experts Discuss) Social Media Strategy Before Tactics
Tweets: 922 Results in Backtweets
YSE Page Links: 1000
Comments: 54
Publish Date: Apr 26th, 2010

What it does well:
1) Ask a single, engaging and obviously controversial question.
2) Includes 44 people, which is great for the piece's baked-in "shareability."
3) Again, the pictures are a great touch!

Where it falls short:
1) Like 12 Experts above it, this piece lacks a takeaway or focus on something that's actionable for its readers. I know the piece was designed to stir conversation and thought (an important takeaway), but at least give me a count of how many voted strategy and how many voted tactics!

>> 21 Link Builders Share Advanced Link Building Queries
Tweets: 463 Retweets According to TweetMeme
YSE Page Links: 2000
Comments: 6
Publish Date: Nov 17, 2009

What it does well:
1) Sources actionable tips and ideas from experts, and many of the ideas were new to the link building space.
2) Ask questions of people who are highly engaged in social networking (the other 3 do this also - I just know this because I asked the folks involved).

Where it falls short:
1) Like its predecessors, there's no overall takeaway.
2) Why are there so few comments? Perhaps the piece fails to connect with readers on a visceral level.
3) No photos. Dang this is visually boring!

>> Further Notes
All three of these group interviews were published on sites with thousands if not hundreds of thousands of subscribers. This makes anything published there more shared and linked-to. If you're considering group interviews for an unknown brand or a new site, know that you're not offering a great deal of exposure much less link value to the participants. This means you need to have AMAZING questions ;)

>> What, No Takeaway?
Given all the criticism above, I think need one :) Conduct group interviews to build links and relationships. Try to construct your questions around final, key takeaways if possible - it's likely that this will make them even more linkable and shareable. If you're new in a space, conduct group interviews with bloggers and other subject matter experts who already write roundups - they are that much more likely to link to you. And finally, please let me know if you conduct group interviews of your own - I'm still discovering and learning best practices and would love to discuss with you!

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