It’s the question that has been keeping you awake at night, do you go for the full on Mullet or just the appearance of a Mullet with the Mulldina? I know your problem I to have had the same sleepless nights and the answer is to use both in your social media campaign. Please note no 80s TV idol was harmed during the writing of this post!
What’s a Mullet?
Ah its a fish, no wait sorry a hair cut, hmm no wait a social media strategy! The idea of the Mullet strategy is to separate your linkbait from your main content and aim it squarely at social media (or pay per click) visitors. This mimics the idea of the mullet haircut short front, top and sides and a long back, or as Maki from Dosh Dosh so aptly described “business in front and party at the back “ By separating some of your content outside of your normal navigation and template you can push it to a different audience. Some reasons for doing this includes separating NSFW, massively off topic or simply trying to attract a different audience.
The Mullet is not without problems to be truly successful you separate the linkbait entirely from the rest of the site but if your goal was indeed to collect links then those links are being directed at an orphan page and not assisting your other pages! The very nature of the mullet is also its biggest problem. Also if either of your two visitor groups learn of the existence of the other it could lead to a serious reputation management problem.
Mullet vs Domain
So the question when approaching a mullet is why mullet at all, would it be simpler to set up an alternative domain and blog for your off topic linkbaiting and then simply 301 the new domain when you want the juice and are ready to embrace your linkbait? Domains have drawbacks, apart from cost, they are time consuming and while 301 is an effective tool it is not the same as getting those links to your own site.
A Mulldina I’m reliably informed is a haircut that is longer on the sides then a mullet but is featherd back to give the appearance of a mullet, a pseudo mullet if you will. We can take this idea and make something that would appear on first glance to be a mullet but which allows both of your target audiences to appreciate your hard work. This technique is only useful if you want both audiences to see the information even if you believe they will take away different things from the experience. With the Mulldina we present the same information but with different layouts, one for our social media users and one for your regular users. Lets take another example, my own site timnash.co.uk is very much SEO focused but I have a variety of interests ranging from photography to AI programming that I might want to include. Lets for example say I decided to release my notes on building user agents in python from a class I taught on the blog. This information would not only appeal to hardcore SEO programmers but also programmers and AI students and casual users with a passing interest in Python. In terms of traffic Digg would be an ideal target also Dzone and Stumbleupon, but my site is quite clearly geared up as an SEO site the term is plastered everywhere its clear therefore the site would need to persona’s 1 Tim Nash SEO and 2 Tim Nash Geek with 2 templates I’m ready to present two faces to the same information.
The first option is for me to just create separate pages with different template specifically for that course, then link to them from the main blog. This is simple but is also confusing on the navigation of the site and means both audiences will find other parts of the site.
The Full Mulldina
The second option is to create 2 templates one for your existing users and one for your social media users, then based on referrer swap the template as you see fit. To make life less confusing you may wish to add a cookie so the user consistently see’s the original template for as long as the cookie remains alive.
Double Mulldina switch
Option 2 has a flaw, while a user coming from the social media site would see the mulldina template any users he sends to the site will not this could pose a potential problem. The solution is to give him a different URL then the original page. This way he passes it on to his friends and they all see the same thing, the problem with that is you have some duplicate content. You don’t want Google to crawl this second domain so the easy thing to do is to tell Google that it is in fact a 301 to the original page. This is a form of cloaking but very much soft cloaking after all you are not actually presenting different information just a different layout. So lets go through the steps of the Double Mulldina switch.
- The original URL is submitted to social media site
- User visits from the site and is redirected based on referral info to the mulldina URL
- A cookie is set on his browser so should he wander to the original URL and not the mulldina url he will be redirected
- He passes the mulldina url to his friends, they visit cookie is set
- Google crawls original URL
- Google crawls mulldina url and is presented with a 301 to the original
Both Google and both groups are happy!
Downside of the Mulldina
Similar to the mullet if people believe you are deliberately hiding things from them or deceiving them they tend to get upset. Also referral information is not always accurate meaning people can and will slip through the net these are often that vocal group that you were trying to placate in the first place. Both of these problems can be limited if you keep the branding difference subtle and you take every step to make sure the right users pass through the right URL.
Taking the Mulldina extreme
The Mulldina strategy can be taken to virtually any lengths and fully automated so if people submit your content to Digg or similar it always uses the Digg friendly layout. Indeed while up until now I have been talking about quite drastic techniques to hide or obfuscate the original site you can use the Mulldina technique to simply optimise page layouts for different social media sites, change adverts depending on the user group etc. The Mullet and the Mulldina are rubbish haircuts but they are a powerful and effective strategy in social media for sites that either have a particular vocal minority against them or simply want to optimise there social media linkbait to be tailored to individual social media sites.