April Fools day isnâ€™t just a day to play pranks on your friends and readers – in recent years it has become an amazingly effective method of driving traffic and building natural links to your website as well.
Last year the buzz was bigger than ever thanks to the effect that social sites such as Digg and StumbleUpon have on the speed that ideas spread. This year expect this social effect to be huge as ideas spread across Facebook and other social networks throughout the day.
The key to making your April Fools day prank a success is simple:
- Think of an idea
- Create the idea
- Execute a killer marketing campaign
Think of an idea
Some of the best ideas for generating links are the simplest. Larger media sites have done very well in the past by simply producing lists of the best April Fools jokes – lots of people read this and there is almost no creativity required.
Try producing a roundup post of the best pranks in your niche and you can guarantee people will read it.
Other ideas include doing a joint prank between 2 or 3 other sites in your niche to make it appear more credible. This helps you reach more readers and helps your chances of success.
- Top 10 Pranks of 2007 (for online inspiration)
- Top 100 Pranks of All Time (the ultimate April Fools resource)
Create your prank
Creation of the prank is all about making people believe it is real. This is where high quality writing and killer Photo Shop skills come in handy.
Try to use quotes, interviews and images to help your readers believe your story is the real deal. Publishing a few hours early can help make your story more believable, too.
Google’s TISP is a great example of how images can help legitimise your prank.
Execute your idea
The key to a successful execution is all in the planning. Ideally your campaign should be planned at least a few days prior to April 1st and you should have all the elements in place.
My top suggestions are to email or contact any site that has written about April Fools jokes in the past or is likely to write a post this year. If you can get on their radar you are quite likely to get a link from a roundup post of the top pranks in your niche.
Make sure your prank has the right social bookmarking buttons, these users love to see the best pranks on April 1st.
You should be aware, both from a readers point of view and a webmasters point of view, that April Fools day starts very early in some parts of the world.
The Christmas Islands are 14 hours ahead of the UK (you can see their time difference here) and 19 hours ahead of New York so be warned!
You can see a countdown to the Christmas Islands April Fools day here.
Launch your April Fools day as soon as it starts in the Christmas Islands to make sure you maximise traffic, links and exposure as well as fooling as many people as possible.
The best blogging pranks
My favourite pranks are the ones that nobody spotted. Like when Matt Cutts swapped jobs with Zawodny at Yahoo or got hacked (Matt seems overly good at linkbait for April Fools). Other good ones were John Chow retiring or Tyler getting sued – they are all very good linkbait and great pranks.
Shoemoney has also pretended to be hacked in the past although some people thought he jumped the gun by doing it a day early.
One of the best ever was TechCrunch aquiring FuckedCompany.com and moving startup coverage to another blog. Once again they were believed because they were a day early in some parts of the world.