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The comment-bait trend that we see gaming the algo in summer 2023
We're seeing this trend increase at the moment: and for those willing to try it, there's lots to gain.
This is going to be a bit of a controversial one.
There’s a trend we’ve noticed at Amphora HQ over the last few months that is escalating fast and seems to be working.
Putting something completely random and off-topic into the hook/top of your video to encourage comments.
We call this comment-bait.
So how does this work?
Whatever it is you’re selling, you need to find something completely random, probably a bit weird, and maybe a bit disgusting. You do this, so that it catches people off guard and then encourages them to leave a comment.
Take a look at this example from ice bath company Polar Recovery.
How Polar Recovery use comment-bait in their ads
Now Polar Recovery1 have a few tricks up their sleeve in this video.
1️⃣ : they call our cocaine in the first few seconds of the ad. Not something you see mentioned in most ads, and a pretty powerful hook (pun intended).
2️⃣: they’ve got young people in swimwear jumping into ice baths.
3️⃣: and they’ve got ….. pasta?!?….. in an ice bath?!
First, the cocaine hook while immediately feeling like clickbait, they manage to tie back to the product when relating to dopamine benefits of ice baths.
Second, half-naked people have to be relevant to your product, which they’ve again gained relevancy here.
First two then aren’t that repeatable for everyone.
But the third one has nothing to do with their product, and that’s the point.
Open up the comments and the most liked comment in the thread is
“How’s no one saying anything about the pasta?” with over 9,500 likes.
Random things in Random Amazon Finds
This trend has stemmed from Tiktok and Instagram Reels. I get targeted with a lot of the “top Amazon finds” style reels. These typically review a series of products where one-in-ten is worthwhile trying out.
But all of these accounts – and there are dozens – all seem to lean in to the comment bait tactic.
Consider this one from @inventions_dope2.
Most of this video is a normal set of product reviews. Standard UGC. But the very first video – which is for these nail clippers – starts oddly.
The creator tears his sock to get to his feet. Aside from being the sort of thing that most people wouldn’t want to see on screen anyway, the tear in sock is comment bait.
These types of quirks are littered throughout these viral Reels.
This isn’t new – but it’s starting to feel more deliberate
Comments and likes and replies to comments are all signals to Meta’s algorithm that something is engaging.
For years, I’ve seen some ads almost randomly perform better than others. And then someone from a customer service, organic social, or brand team Slacks you to point our a typo in an ad.
You go and check which one and it’s your best performer.
Why is it working? Not in spite of the typo, but because of it. Legions of people are pedantically correcting you in the comments. The comments are engagement, Meta loves that, and carries on showing the ad. It gets more sales, it gets more data and the cycle continues.
The vast majority of brands I speak to wouldn’t be willing to put a typo into an ad purposefully as comment-bait. But when I have tested this in the past, it does work.
You see this elsewhere in modern social too.
This Reel the other day gives tips on parallel parking. But right at the hook, the video says:
“remember my three words: No more fear of side parking”
Open up the comments and with 58k likes someone is pointing out the mistake.
Not content with one comment bait, moments later, the wing mirrors get called ‘ears.’
This almost doesn’t bump as clearly because of potential cultural differences. I assume side parking is what parallel parking is called in America. And likewise the wing mirrors may well be nicknamed ears somewhere else in the world.
Risks of comment bait
It’s important to avoid what Meta call ‘engagement bait’ – that is where you specifically call out the need to engage with a post (i.e. “tag a friend to win” or “react with xxxxx”)3 They’ve got help articles discouraging this.
And of course, this type of content will not sit happily with everyone in your company.
If your brand voice or guidelines encourage importance of consistency, relevancy, or trust, then there’s going to be strong arguments made against doing something like this.
Ultimately, finding the balance for your brand will be something that’s different for everyone. But as a growing trend, there’s stuff we can all take away from this as content creators.
Bitesize of the week
One article for you to read this week
By John Thornhill in the FT.