Online trends for link building in 2016

  • 2
  • December 22, 2016
Sophie Jackson

Sophie Jackson

Digital PR Strategist

2016 has seen brands explore a huge amount of possibilities when it comes to link building and PR, however from our research of link building in the past 12 months, we’ve found that most campaigns have one main thing in common – people can relate to them. We’ve picked out a few of our favourite trends for link building through 2016.

We wear our hearts on our sleeves

Having a PR campaign that makes someone feel something and allows people to either relate or empathise, will automatically mean that it will get more pick up.

Humans naturally feel five emotions – fear, anger, love, envy and grief. The most successful campaigns in 2016 have targeted these emotions, and people have been able to empathise with the story behind them.

For example, Graham, the sculpture from Victorian Government’s new road safety campaign, went viral and it was mainly because it was a hard-hitting topic that made people realise that road safety is extremely important as no-one is built like Graham.


This campaign was particularly clever as it combined science and emotion. The science was the main factor behind the campaign but as driving safety is close to a lot of people’s hearts, it was relatable and made people think about how they act when they get behind the wheel and the negative affect they could have on others if they don’t drive safely.

We get distracted by shiny, new things

Virtual reality is on the up in the PR world, and creating 360 degree videos is a great way to build links. We are nosey, sorry, I mean… interested, in things we don’t know, we like to look at and explore places we’ve never been. Travel companies have been jumping on our desire to explore in the past year and it’s been great for their link building strategies.

A campaign that really took advantage of this was Expedia’s Holiday of the Future which let people experience Australia without the flight or the cost.

VR campaigns are likely to be successful as the user is completely immersed in what is going on in the headset, there are no distractions and they solely concentrate on the content in front of them.

The intensity of VR, especially if it’s being used for the first time, is greater than traditional PR – it generates strong emotions and becomes more memorable. Think about it… would you rather use VR or read a press release?

How facts and data make a great campaign

One of our favourite online campaigns, which was featured in our weekly blog post back in August was the Taylor’s of Harrogate ‘The Story of Bees’. Their use of facts and statistics in a piece of amazingly designed content really impressed our team.

Using data from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Taylor’s created a really fun asset as well as a video of the first Bee hotel. The campaign demonstrates that even though you may only have data (that some people might not find that interesting), if you display it in a creative way and explain why that information has an impact on people then you’ll get the links.

This campaign managed to gain 343 backlinks from 107 referring domains from great sites such as Design Taxi and Trendland.

Referring domains

Displaying social data in a creative way

A trend that began in 2015 and has grown and grown is using social listening to create an engaging asset or campaign. From Twitter to Instagram and Reddit to Stumble Upon, this is readily available information for anyone to use.

Tools such as Brandwatch and Crimson Hexagon can be used to pull data from social media, which is then presented in an artistic way. As of June 2016, Instagram had 500 million monthly active users and PR companies really should utilise this data.

As people are more frequently taking pictures of their food before they eat it, Souvside Tools saw an opportunity to use this craze to their advantage. They created a great infographic that shows the most Instagrammed foods across the world which they have found from pulling the number of hashtags used for each food. They gained 40 followed links to the infographic, from food sites, nationals and design sites.

What to remember when planning a campaign

Does it have the human effect? Can people relate to it? A campaign needs to capture the audience and really make them think about a topic. Either make them laugh, cry, or reflect on themselves. If you can do that, then you’re on to a winner. Ask the people around you for feedback on ideas, and don’t just stick to your colleagues in PR, ask your friends and family too and see how they feel.

Are people learning anything from your campaign? Are they finding things out that they might not have previously known, or receiving new information that isn’t published elsewhere for everyone to see? Whether it’s a VR experience or new statistics or data that’s been released, it needs to be a new experience. Remember, if a campaign isn’t benefitting a user then it’s unlikely to get pick up.

new information gif