6 Keys to Building Massive Social Media Buzz

by Brett Borders on April 6, 2009

When someone leaves a comment on my blog, it’s like a drug. I feel a slight physical rush of endorphin and adrenaline. I beam with pride for a split second… and soon I crave more of it.

It’s like money, too. Comments are the currency of social media. They reflect people’s attention and interest — and offer social proof that your stuff is worth reading and talking about.

Strike the social media ‘Jackpot’ and get a huge buzz + hundreds of comments. Image: Rich & Becky

But unfortunately, when you first start blogging or using social media sites, the recognition you get for all your hard work is usually pathetic. Exhausted after busting ass for the virtual equivalent of $0.07 cents an hour in comments, most bloggers quit too soon. But if you are both creative and persistent enough – you’ll eventually strike The Jackpot.

‘The Jackpot’ is what I call the spectacular, avalanche-like chain reaction when several thousand people buzz over your latest content… and many of them leave comments & share it with their followers.

Focusing on these 6 key elements will boost your odds of striking it big:

1. The headline is key.

If you headline isn’t compelling, people will never even click the link to see your content in the first place. The top, big-money copywriters sometimes spend a week writing an advertisement and then they spend an entire week tweaking the headline. It’s that important. Don’t ever treat the headline as an afterthought. For an important piece, you should open up a text editor and write out 20 variations of the headline and pick the best. Then DM or IM a trusted friend and ask for their tweaks and feedback.

2. Visual appeal is key.

Beautiful design + images draw people into your content & keep them reading. image: j. Philipson

If you want people take your message seriously and recommend it to all their friends…looks matter The visual appeal of your content includes both your site’s logo, design, and text typography — and also the images you use to illustrate your points. If you aren’t good with graphic design & CSS you need to either learn it or else hire a professional designer to make your site look slick. And if you don’t know about image resources for bloggers like Flickr Creative Commons, Wikimedia commons and commercial stock photo sites – you should take time to learn about them before you hit “Publish” again.

3. Timing is key.

Impeccably timing your content can have an explosive effect. image: baking with medusa

Breaking news in your industry can score you major buzz. If you don’t have an inside scoop, you can create your own news by summarizing what has happened recently and adding your perspective to it. Creating content to coincide with a holiday, release date, or industry announcement can also work wonders. One of my most successful pieces was a parody of Microsoft ads, submitted to Digg the day after the site announced an unpopular advertising partnership with Microsoft. I noticed that the community was starting to grumble, so I stayed up all night and cranked out something to exploit their anti-Microsoft sentiment. It probably wouldn’t have hit so big at any other time.

4. Intuition is key.

Use the collective intelligence of the social web to sharpen your intuition. image: kees straver

Social media is a digital reflection of the non-local, collective consciousness of everyone online. If you can intuitively sense what the collective is thinking or craving, you can create a monster hit. But the only way to cultivate this intuition is through extensive experience and active presence in the trenches of social media.

Spend at least an hour a day on popular content aggregation sites like TweetMeme, PopURLs, Digg, StumbleUpon and Delicious to see what is generating massive buzz. Ask questions on Twitter and do searches to see what people are burning to know about.

Then mix the successful formulas you discover on aggregator sites with your own ideas and angles until a burning, exploding, bomb flash of creativity jolts through you. When you burst with out-loud with laughter or quiver with excitement over your own idea… you’re onto something. Check it out with a friend or two and see if it moves them, too. If they think it’s a likely winner, go for it!

5. Influential friends are key.

If someone influential tweets your content, blogs about it or submits it to Digg… thousands more people are likely to take a look at it. Therefore, it’s important to spend time befriending powerful social media users. Follow them, chat with them, help them out, read their blogs and leave comments, promote their content and eventually they will notice you. And if they like you and your stuff, they might be willing to help you back. Yes, it takes a lot of time to network with people, but this is social marketing, after all. If you don’t know where to find powerful influencers, here are some places you can start looking.

6. Persistence is key.

Build your empire one story at a time. Keep trucking, don’t look back. image: Liber

If you walk into the casino with a half-dozen quarters, odd are high that you’re gonna walk out empty handed. Same will happen if you write 6 blog entries and then give up. You’ve gotta be willing to try dozens, or even hundreds of times, if you wanna hit the big time. While writing for Social Media RockstarI have gotten discouraged, slightly depressed and I even wanted to quit a couple of times. Some of my posts didn’t go very far, but the few that did generate bigger buzz made it all worthwhile. So expect 75% or more of your posts to fail, and keep on trying and improving your game each time!

You’ll Know You’ve Stuck the Jackpot, When…

  • Your inbox spits out comment notification e-mails like a machine gun.
  • You get more ReTweets in an hour than you’ve gotten in the previous year.
  • There’s so many questions from new followers & in comments that it’s hard to answer ‘em.
  • Your piece suddenly goes popular on other social networks you didn’t submit it to.
  • Your contact form returns press & business inquiries.
  • Trackbacks in appear in languages you can’t even identify, proving global popularity.

When the chain reaction explodes… you might find yourself ‘glued to the screen’ and excited to the point that you physically feel (or hear) your heartbeat racing. Take a deep breath, and try to think clearly about how to best spread the bushfire while it’s still blazing. Alert your friends to help fan the flames, add new social voting buttons and submit it to niche social sites, and do what you can to respond to comments and mails… making connections and turning your new visitors into subscribers or customers.

But there’s only so much you can do before all the attention will psychologically overwhelm and exhaust you. At that point… it’s totally okay to shut the lid on your laptop, open the lid on a beer and congratulate yourself on a job well done. You rocked it!

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Brett Borders, the author of this article, is a professional copywriter who specializes in increasing website sales and signup rates. I'm available now to write for your website and optimize it for maximum sales and profits. Please contact me now for a free consultation.

  • http://blog.roguestar.tv TommyofRoguestar

    You know I got my first comment on my blog the other day and I was overjoyed. Now I want more! I’m finally getting it to a place where I don’t mind showing people (still needs improvement) and to get that first comment felt awesome.

    Now if only I could get my designer guy to work with me a little bit more I’ll be golden. I know the functionality that I want to put into it but there is nothing more frustrating than knowing what you want to do but not knowing how to do it.

  • http://www.twitter.com/adenademonte Adena DeMonte

    You’ve got a lot of good points there. Look forward to reading more of your blog & tweets in the future. I agree with the headline bit… it’s tough to craft a good headline, but worth it.

  • http://www.attractingidealclients.com Rick Cooper

    Great post Brett! I loved the great reminder about the importance of the headline. You also hit the nail on the head regarding the importance of influential friends. It’s a good reminder that social media is social. You need to cultivate relationships! @RickCooper

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    TommyofRoguestar,

    Don’t give up, brother man! Work on all the elements.. alchemize it… listen to what people are asking about in social media.. use your intuition…. make those connections… don’t give up… and you will get many more!

    I promise.

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Adena,

    I had the hardest time with a headline for THIS POST…. it’s no sparkling example.. but I put a lot of time, care and thought into making the headlines promise something interesting and then deliver on the promise!

    Whatever ya do, don’t just type it in the top box as the very last thing.

  • http://www.pushingsnowballs.com Pushing Snowballs

    Also, when you’re just starting out, don’t be above asking your friends to leave comments when they visit your blog. Sure, that’s not a long-term strategy for growth, but once you have a few comments “priming the pump” it seems like others follow more quickly.

  • http://jewelry.jojewelry.com Jo

    Good information. Thank you for writing this. Whew this social media is a lot of work, isn’t it? But it does work. I love when people leave relevant comments on my blog. Often when I send my blog posts to people I know, they email back comments instead of posting them. Oh well. So I like the way you end this article also! Ask for comments.

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    It’s a combination of several things you need to bring into balance… it’s so far from easy but if you focus on one of them at a time and improve stuff… you are going to get ahead.

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Pushing Snowballs,

    I totally agree. I’ve even asked my Dad to check out my blog and leave a comment *blush*

    It’s a tough job to keep people interested because the sea is overlfowing with competing information… but if you want to go for it…. you gotta give it everything.

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Jo,

    Geez it’s a lot of “work” but if you love it.. it’s a fun hustle. If you can prime the pump by getting you friends interested… and you keep listening and dialing into what the collective unconscious of the internet is wanting to read… and then you can produce it and get someone to help give it a little “push”.. it’s incredible what can happen!

  • http://johnfmoore.wordpress.com John Moore

    As someone who is still feeling his way on the blogging front I can truly appreciate this article, great advice. There are days when you feel like a true genius with comments flying in and views going higher than expected. Unfortuantely, it’s always followed by days when things are going in the opposite direction.

    I enjoy all of the interactions, however, and look forward to blogging for years to come. I’m sure I’ll keep writing even if no one comes to read it at all. :-)

    John
    http://johnfmoore.wordpress.com
    http://twitter.com/JohnFMoore

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    John Moore,

    I’m feeling my way on the blogging front, too, and these are the key points I’ve noticed.

    I’m glad you’ve got the long-haul stamina… that seems to be the most important thing. You can search around and find some blogs that aren’t very interesting at ALL… but someone keep the lights on since 2004 and keep cranking out content… and it thrives.

  • http://www.kmpfurniture.com Rafael Montilla

    Great 6 tips, The title and pics are so important.

    Thanks for this post.

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    @Rafael Montilla,

    Thanks for the comment. All those elements are mad important… .and they don’t even include the quality of the content itself. Get intuitive, get connected, keep at it, make it look good and eventually one of your posts will take hold!

  • http://thelostjacket.com Stuart Foster

    Haha, being at the right place at the right time has certainly helped me. I’ve fallen into a lot of circles within social media based both on previous connections and a rather bombastic personality. Love the game though. Wish I could still play it on Digg ;)

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Stuart,

    Being in the right place at the right time… writing the right piece at the right time…. knowing when to shut up… knowing when to rip someone up…. knowing what is going to be big before everyone else does…

    all are magickal powers.

    If I could ask for just one super power, it would be the ability to see slightly into the future.

  • http://www.timwhiteblog.com Tim White

    Great post! Solid advice, well written, and well delivered. I too am addicted to the high of the comment. Hope this one gives you a little fix for the day!

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Tim,

    It was truly like the first sip of coffee on a groggy morning. Thanks for being engaged!

  • Anonymous

    Great advice, this page is now on my faves in case I forget

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Wolfeeboy,

    Glad you liked. Thanks for your comments.

    Please subscribe via RSS or e-mail.. there’s buttons at the top right sidebar of the blog.

  • http://www.redcubemarketing.wordpress.com Gemma Went

    Really useful Brett, thanks. I recently got my first couple of comments and almost whooped for joy! I really like the comment about persistence, I can see this is a long process and takes a while to get the response you’re after so it’s nice that those that have ‘made it’ felt the same.

    Im now sitting here thinking about what friends I can point in the direction of my blog :-)

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Gemma,

    It’s so grueling, sometimes… put all your creative energy into writing something…. and then going out on a limb by putting it out there. It is a very hard job… but keep trying… 50 times or more.. .and eventually you will see some sunshine!

  • http://www.eminiwizard.com/ Nari

    fantastic explanation. clear and concise. thank you.

  • http://www.innerspaceyogas.com kelly

    Thanks! You’ve really given me some great help!

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Nari,

    Glad you found some value in this post. Just keep refining and keep trying.

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Kelly,

    Awesome! Would love to see what you come up with.

  • http://www.seomysite.co.uk Seo Freelancer Phill

    looking for this articles i searched, “how to improve social buzz”, why? because I ‘m looking to brush on my search marketing knowledge before an intveriew tomorrow. & I couldnt agree more with your points here. Its so important to plan your social campaign with a complete understanding of the market, what it needs and what it doesnt want!

    I truely enjoyed the read, i only wish i could write a longer , more detialed comment, but i need to revise!

    Thanks , Phill

  • http://socialmediarockstar.com Brett Borders

    Phil,

    So true. You really have to understand the market and their tastes as
    well as a DJ has to understand the crowd’s vibe at a top London dance
    club…

    Very glad you enjoyed the article, please subscribe via e-mail or RSS
    for more!

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