This is an addition or follow up to my post Viral Social Media Ideas for Boring Industries. We had a lot of comments of people asking for advice with their “boring” sites or topics and I got a boat load of emails asking similar questions. I wanted to outline some tactics you can use to research and ultimately better prepare your article or piece of viral content prior to launch.
How does the saying go? “Don’t reinvent the wheel, just make it better” something like that? This goes the same way in social media and news, you don’t need to create something from scratch to have success. I feel some people just sit there and try to think of a new ground breaking idea that will shake the earth (or the net), when instead they should be looking at tweaking what has already worked. You want to start at the site that is your main target, whether it is Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Reddit, etc… Go to that site and use their tag or search feature to look for topics that are related to your industry. If you want to do a viral piece on Divorce, search “Divorce” if you want to research “Cheerleaders” (one of the emails we got) do the same.
Digg Search: Digg search sucks, but there is still some good things that can come out of it, like changing the parameters to only show new stories or only show popular stories and stories with the most votes. Remember though, just because it didn’t make it popular doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. A lot of people use Digg and still think all you have to do is submit some good content and it will make “popular”. This is far from the truth, unless the the War in Iraq ends or the War in Iran begins and you submit the first story you are out of luck without an active contributing account. When researching ideas this is a gold mine, as I can’t tell you how many gems I have found that were submitted by users with no friends that received little to no votes. It can pay off to search deep into the results as there are a lot of stories that should of made it that never do.
StumbleUpon Buzz: Will show you the recent articles that have been stumbled and that are hot right now, use this page to do a keyword search or to select a tag related to your niche and then browse through the stories. This is usually what is hot now, not what was hot a year ago. One way to see older stories is to use StumbleUpon groups and then look through sites in that group or submitted by users in that group.
Del.icio.us: Is the usually the first place I go as it operated more like a search engine and returns decent search results, (I use it more than Google on new and fresh info). It has a good search feature, so enter your keywords and it will list the URLs that were tagged with that keyword the most. You will almost always find something here it is very useful.
Reddit: options can change to show the search options by showing either the “New” or “Rank”. New is obviously the newest articles related to the search, but Rank is not a list of the relevant articles with the most votes, it is more of a meta search it seems to bring back the stories that have a higher Keyword density or repetition in the Title.
Youtube: This works really well as you can alter the results by choosing “Date Added” to get fresh results, “View Count” to see the videos with the most views and “Ratings” to list the videos with the best ratings.
If any of the sites search results are giving you a hard time you can rely on Google by doing a “site:domain.com keyword phrase.” I use this a lot with Digg, SU and Youtube.
You will often find that in your searching your ideas will change, be open minded and really take a look at what works in your niche. I’m not saying copy down the successful content and reposting it on your site. Get ideas from this. If you see that widgets or viral tests work well in your broad categories think about how you can do that on your site. If most of the results display stats or studies come up with some new research backed by some data. Don’t blog spam by taking a popular story off Reddit, posting it on your site then submitting it to Digg. That is blogspam, and it takes away from the original content creator. Use this as a brainstorm to get and idea that there is actually stories related to your site that do make it popular on the social sites.
Again as in the previous post if you are stumped on viral ideas with your boring site, drop us a comment or email and we will definitely help out. You can take nearly any industry and create some viral content.