November 23, 2014

The Thrill Seeker vs. the Bookworm

Most bloggers now realize the value of creating content that is specifically intended to appeal to the average social media user. Creating a successful viral blog post is a skill that can be learned (and there are plenty of consultants and copywriters who are willing to do it for pay). While it’s fairly obvious that each social media site has its own unique audience that responds to specific types of content, it is rarely mentioned just how different the mentality is between the users of large general news sites and smaller niche-specific social media sites .

Neither mentality is good or bad, just different. Understanding the differences will allow you to cater content towards the audience that you want to target.

Users of large general news sites (such as Digg):

…are typically looking for something new, fun, or exciting.

…need to be interested in something very quickly.

…are unlikely to stay long or come back later.

…are more interested in entertainment and less interested in learning/education (generally).

…view social networking as fun.

Users of a smaller niche-focused social media site:

…are passionate about the specific topic or niche.

…are more interested in finding new content and learning and less interested in being entertained.

…are much more likely to read an entire article.

…have an interest in thought-provoking articles, not just something that draws quick attention.

…view social networks as valuable sources of information.

…are more likely to come back if you have taught them something or made them think.

…are tougher critics of your technical knowledge.

Which is Best for You?

As far as marketing your blog, you should have an idea of which type of social media user you are targeting. Of course, it is possible to get benefits from both general sites and niche-specific sites, but many blog posts will appeal more to one or the other.

If you are seeking higher traffic, more links and more exposure, general news sites may be the best way to get there in a short period of time. On the other hand, niche sites will be a bit easier to have success with, the traffic you receive will be more targeted, and you will have the ability to brand yourself within the industry.

In my opinion, niche sites can be targeted more frequently by bloggers. Content that is geared towards Digg users will eventually turn off many of your subscribers if it is used too frequently. However, more in-depth thought-provoking articles can do well on niche sites and they are great for building and satisfying subscribers. Huge blogs that have a staff of writers (like TechCrunch and Gizmodo ) are on Digg all the time, but for most small bloggers it’s not realistic to target that audience consistently.

I visit DZone (a social media site for developers) on a regular basis, and I have been using Sphinn a bit more recently. On both of these niche sites I see the same users and the same blogs on the front page day-in and day-out. While these posts may not all appeal to users of general social news sites, they are helping bloggers to build a loyal following by gaining consistent exposure to very targeted audiences. While the traffic that is drawn to a post on the front page of one of these sites may not touch the traffic that comes from the Digg front page, it is possible for any blogger in the niche to make the front page on a very consistent basis with quality content.

What is Your Experience?

Do you prefer to target users of general social media sites or users of niche sites? Have you found that you can target niche sites more often?

About Steven Snell

Steven is a web designer, blogger, and freelance writer.

12 comments

  1. For me personally, I’m still trying to find a suitable niche SM site (travel guide). So far, I’ve had some success with SU, but probably more from being a regular in a few forums.

  2. This is such a good piece of information for everyone using Social Media sites to market whatever it is they are marketing.

    The differences in audiences, across sites, can mean the difference between success and failure in a campaign.

    Thanks for the great information!
    Maria :-)

  3. This is one of two big problem with Social Media, how do you target your market. The other problem is how do you measure ROI for social media.

    But the way things are going, I’m sure these problems will be resolved. For now my mostly not web 2.0 savvy clients prefer to wait until this kind of marketing matures.

    I’m trying to get the community of professional hypnotists to get on Twitter.com and as a group come up with new ways to use twitter as part of their marketing. I think it will be a fun experiment.

    Cheers,

    Craig Eubanks
    HypnosisMarketingTips.com

  4. bw,
    There are several niche travel sites list in our categorized list of social media sites.

    Maria,
    Thanks for reading and for your comment.

    Craig,
    Yeah, ROI is difficult. I wish I had a fancy way of doing that, but I don’t.

  5. I have yet to delve into the whole social media thing, but I am learning about it (mainly from this blog!) I think the main point here is that you should focus on the smaller, niche driven sites, and only occasionally hit up the big, general sites. To use a baseball analogy, the niche sites are the dependable singles that keep you in the show, Digg etc are the home runs that really get your noticed.

    Thanks for the great post!

    - Dave

  6. I’ve definitely found these descriptions to be true. Still, I’m surprised almost every day by a new loyal subscriber coming from the thrill-seeking Digg-like crowds. I think it’s best to cover as many bases as you can. If one social site just isn’t producing any results, I drop them.

  7. I focus writing for niche social media sites for the most part. Since my blog is new, I have just been working on writing flagship content, which work great for niche social media sites. After I get a few of these done. I think my efforts toward general sites like digg would pay off more since they will have more to look at when they come to my blog. That and it is proven content.

  8. I agree with Maria..this is a very informative post..it’s really a big help for newbies like me..^^

    Thanks a bunch for sharing..^^ you are very generous..^^

  9. Matt,
    Yeah, I think it’s impossible to put completely put a label on any audience. I’ve picked up a good number of subscribers from sites like Digg and SU myself.

    Vinh,
    I think that is a good approach and it seems to be working very well for you.

  10. I prefer to go for niche sites (since the frontpage is much easier to reach) but when I think an article will work for a “general audience ” as well, I try to grab as much traffic from the big social media sites as possible.

  11. Because I have a writing related blog, I would often check out other writing blogs for info and learn something everyday.

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