It’s not, of course, and if you’re here, you probably recognize that.
That’s not to say there aren’t things you can do with and to your content to maximize its potential to hit the viral jackpot. It’s something I have thought a lot about for most of my life – first as a newspaper reporter and editor, later as someone who’s made her living helping others figure out how to do well on Digg, Reddit and StumbleUpon and then later Twitter and Facebook and all matter of social sites.
There’s not as much difference between the two as you might imagine. You’d be surprised at what the most popular feature was in our newspaper on an annual basis.
The Snow Shoveler’s Network.
My old boss, Tony Davenport, came up with the genius idea of putting a form in the newspaper (later, we had a web form) inviting teens to sign up to shovel sidewalks for a fee of their choosing. We confirmed all listings with parents before printing, and people cut the list out and hung ‘em on their fridge through the entire winter. We’d start getting calls asking when we’d be publishing the form around this time of year, as well as calls from people asking when we’d start listing the shovelers. Why? Because people didn’t know their neighbors as well and just wanted someone to shovel their driveway. And didn’t want to wait until it snowed to find someone to do it.
We were a local newspaper, serving the suburbs outside of New York City. We covered major news, as happens in a large metropolitan area. But we also recognized we weren’t above sharing the small things in life with our readers. And I can tell you, there were some days it helped to have that list or the form to fill the paper, especially as we approached the holidays, when the papers were filled with ads with lots of empty space around them.
What’s the lesson here? Know your audience. Give them something they want and need. Something useful.
Know your audience. Give them something relevant and useful. Whether it’s a photo, a video, an infographic or an article, you can give them what they want and need while still achieving your objectives. (Side note: achieving just looks as if it’s spelled wrong but it’s not. It’s one of those words, isn’t it?)
I spoke on a panel last month here in New York, at SMX East, on creating content that works. One of my favorite parts of it is where I talk about telling your audience something they wanted to know. Or better yet – something they didn’t even know they wanted to know. And doing it all, of course, while actually being relevant.
What have you created or seen that has surprised you with its simplicity and popularity?