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?