A few weeks ago I decided to conduct a social media experiment to see if I could start a blog from scratch and generate a big enough buzz to get a good discussion going. I was on vacation in Florida and had more time on my hands than I normally do, so I decided to give it a go.
The goal was very simple – to get a decent amount of people to leave comments on the blog post and get an active discussion going. I thought about how I would do this. In fact, I thought about it for a few days, and this is the action plan I came up with.
- Put social media buttons (tweet, share on Facebook, like on Facebook) in prominent places on the blog post.
- Choose a hot topic that people are focused on right now.
- Take a stance that is unpopular.
- Tweet about the article and post a link on Facebook.
- Ask for comments in response to a specific question.
- Be an active participant in the discussion (if one actually starts).
I had come up with this plan by observing sites that I had seen get a massive amount of exposure even though they were relatively new. I knew that it needed to involve a strong social media component because SEO couldn’t have such a quick effect. Since the fastest trending stories these days spread virally because of social media, it made sense to me that this would be the way to go.
One morning, I woke up and felt ready to give it a go. I had been watching the show “The Sing Off” on NBC and was absolutely blown away by the performances. The group that won the grand prize was a group called “Committed”. They are a Christian group that joined the show and made it all the way to the end. However, in my opinion, they had made some compromising decisions about the choice of music they sang.
Now, I really don’t want to make this a debate about what they did, or should have done differently. The purpose of this post was to show how I turned it into an active discussion, one that could be used to give my blog a very quick jump start. Let’s take a look at how I implemented the steps and then think about how you could implement similar steps in your new blog, or to give your older blog a nice boost.
Here Is What I Did
I first installed the Linksalpha plugin to my blog. This allowed me to place Tweet this, Facebook share and Facebook like buttons at the top and bottom of each post. There are other plugins that allow you to do the same (and probably even better), but this one seemed to suit my purposes at the time.
Then I wrote a post entitled “Committed won “The Sing Off”, and I hope they read this“. Since “The Sing Off” was a show that just finished, it was fresh on the minds of millions of people all over the world. I knew this had the potential to be a hot topic even on a brand new blog.
At the time, everyone was very excited about the fact that a Christian group had won a secular competition. There were lots of excited people from my church talking about it. I was also excited, because they ROCKED, but took the stance that they needed to be careful with what they were doing. They had chosen to perform some compromising songs that caused some negative (in my opinion) comments about Christianity from the judges .
Once the article was finished, I posted it to my blog, sent out a tweet and posted a link to it on Facebook saying “Alright, so here’s my official message to Committed. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment on the page”.
I also made sure to specifically ask people to leave their comments at the bottom of the post. Although blogging is quite common, there are still a ton of people that aren’t familiar with the commenting process, so giving that extra nudge always helps.
Then I sat back and waited. What happened next surprised me. This struck a chord with many people. There were lots of people that felt the same way, but hadn’t said anything. There were also a bunch of people who were on the extreme end, almost condemning them to hell (yeah, I know, kinda crazy, but definitely interesting). Almost 100 people liked it on Facebook, and a total of 55 comments were left. No, that’s not viral, but to get that much buzz on a brand new blog when not even trying definitely shows the power of social media.
How To Implement This Strategy On Your Blog
Not everyone cares to write a blog post about a television show. In fact, in many niches, it wouldn’t be relevant to do so. It’s not necessarily something I recommend, unless it compliments what you are trying to do in a seamless way. However, there is a principle that applies to any niche where there are a core group of people who are interested. That principle is as follows:
Find out what people in your niche are passionate about and make it as EASY as possible to participate in a discussion and share it with others. If you can do that, you potentially have a viral situation.
I do not intend to build much on that blog post in the near future, but it was a fun little experiment. Social media is extremely powerful - in my opinion, more than any television show or news broadcast can be, because it’s instant. In my opinion, in the blogosphere as it is today, if you plan on having a significant online presence, having a strong social media is also a necessity.
My plan is to take this principle and try to apply it to my Biology site over the next few weeks. It will take a little more creativity, because for some strange reason, NBC has yet to decide to produce a popular Biology reality show ;), but the principle should still apply (by the way, if you have any cool ideas as to what I can do, feel free to share).
Of course, I’ll report back on my results, so stay tuned . . .
What About You?
Have you implemented any really successful social media campaigns that led to an active discussion on your blog? If so, what did you do and how? What were the effects? Let me know below.