How To Effectively Target Specific Networks Or Groups Of People

Yesterday I wrote on how the only way to build a sustainable web brand was not to play only to networks and try to get big spikes in traffic, but to build your brand slowly, methodically and organically. I stick by this.

Well, what if you don’t care about building a web brand or sustainable traffic. What if you really do want a one-hit wonder, or want to get a large amount of fleeting attention to just one thing or one idea. Today I thought I’d give you a quick strategy to do just that.

Please keep in mind this is the antithesis of yesterday’s advice for building a sustainable brand and sustainable traffic. This is a strategy to create a big hit for one specific idea, video, image, article – you name it. If you’re going to use technique on your blog, I highly suggest using it sparingly.

Using the power of meta to your advantage

Creating targeted content directly for one network or group, with the goal of spreading it successfully within that network or group has been a big trend the past few months. I’ve leveraged it successful, as have several other blogs I read frequently.

Bloggers love to read about other blogs, the blogosphere and blogging. People on Digg love to read deep analysis about Digg (likewise with people on Reddit and other networks). Heavy users of Facebook enjoy content about Facebook. You get the idea.

There will come a point when meta content on a network jumps the shark (in fact I think the Digg community has about reached that point, although I could be wrong) – but social media it is still something many people are just discovering, and the analysis, dissection and critiques are interesting to them.

So how exactly do you create something about a network with the goal of spreading it and reaching users within that network? Here are a few approaches:

Pick up on a trend

When you pick up on a trend within a popular community that is interesting and thoughtful, you should capitalize on it before someone else does. It could be something people have noticed and talked about on the network, but no one has done anything with it specifically. It could also be something that only you have noticed, but if you brought it to light it would get noticed by the rest of the network too. Creativity counts here.


Communities of people end up having certain quirks and things that the community quickly becomes known for. For example, Digg, a community that is made up of such a wide array of content, people and niches has created its own rich set of acronyms, language and abbreviations. The 10e20 blog was smart enough to put together a whole guide to the jargon of Digg as a fun way to help people decode the language on the network and soon made page one of that network. The writer probably knew it would hit page one before he/she hit publish.

Critique or controversy

Sparking flames or fire regarding something controversial on a network is a sure way to hit page one. People on Reddit frequently “vote up” sharp critiques of the network that the general mass of users would love to see fixed. If there is a huge controversy over something specific you notice in the comment area of a network, that may be a hot issue you can delve into further to create something popular.

Offer solutions for problems common to all users

Is there a feature the network has been ignoring? Is there a common complaint that many people on the network share? Create something addressing the issues/concerns that are on the minds of the site’s user base and they will want to draw attention to it in the hopes the administrators will address the issues.

Use parody or humor

This is a great tactic, especially powerful if you can put it into video or an image (this can be far more powerful than text). Extra credit points for using humor or parody in conjunction with memes from the network.

Interview someone highly popular on that network

Power law distribution curves show you that the majority of popular content on a network is created by a minority of users on the network. This is traditionally shown as the 80/20 rule. As such, those power-users are of high interest to others in the network, especially those wishing to become power-users. An interview or feature about a power user, done properly, will be compelling for everyone on the network. Don’t be afraid to ask targeted, specific questions and really drill down. The deeper and more intelligent the interview, the farther it will permeate the network. Remember, you’re writing for a niche, not a mass audience. They already know the basics.

Write on a common thread, common enemy or popular meme

If you notice something is popular or common in that network, by all means create something you know ill vibe within that network. Supporting a worldview held by a group of people is certainly a strong way to get attention on the network, as the users will have an interest in seeing the content promoted since it forwards their agenda. Remember, the users are the editors in this realm. Creating something that vibes with how they think is a strong way to succeed.

Go against the grain

This is a risky strategy, but one that will surely bring you traffic, visitors and controvsersy. Purposefully create something that you know will rub users of a certain network the wrong way. You will be kicking over the hornets nest, and will draw plenty of discussion, debate and views to your site. Now, if you’re strategic here and doing it as satire or with a purpose, it may be worthwhile — however be very careful when using this approach.

Related articles from The Future Buzz:

50 Viral Images (and how they spread)

The Social Web: More Than Just A Way To Build Buzz

Social Media and Artists: A Natural Fit

Related articles from around the web:

How To Create Digg-Friendly Content (Dosh Dosh)

12 Proven Ways to Get Your Post To The Top of Digg (Seth Godin)

How Reddit is Flirting with the Future of Social News (Read Write Web)