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How to Create Social Media’s Favorite Type of Blog Post

Keeping You Posted by Skellie.In my time as a blogger I’ve been lucky enough to have two posts I’ve written hit the front page of Digg. The first one was a resource list of 110+ resources for creative minds. The most amazing thing about the experience was that the post itself required only one ingredient to create: time.

Any one of us can create a fantastic resource list — it’s just a matter of taking the time required to do so. And it’s worth it. While a Digg or del.icio.us-worthy resource list might take several hours to create, it has the potential to grow your blog more quickly and powerfully than a dozen of your ordinary blog posts.

If you’re a regular user of social media, you’ll notice that big lists of resources, tools and articles are consistently popular. In fact, they seem to be social media’s favorite type of blog post.

In this Keeping You Posted column, I want to share the most important lessons I’ve learned on creating a list of resources social media will love.

1. Work out what your readers want

A fantastic list of 50 home-improvement ideas won’t benefit you much if your readership is interested in vegetable gardening. For your post to gain the momentum required to become popular on social media, it needs an initial ground-swell of support. You can create that groundswell by providing your readers with a resource list they can actually see themselves using.

2. Pick great resources

There are two potential stumbling blocks that will cripple the potential of your resource list: 1) low-quality resources and 2) uninteresting resources. It can be easy to make the first mistake, particularly when you don’t have time to thoroughly check every item on the list. The problem becomes even easier to encounter if you’ve committed yourself to a very long list and you’re having trouble filling it out.

Here are some important tips to remember:

  • Don’t sacrifice quality for a big headline. You could probably find a hundred or more resources for your list, but how many of them will waste your reader’s time? Include only as many quality resources as you find.
  • Don’t recommend anything you haven’t read/tried/explored yourself. If the resource turns out to be harmful, misleading or otherwise poor quality, you could get the blame.

Your resource list must also be interesting. If it contains links and resources your readers are already very familiar with, it won’t have any value to them. The best resource lists highlight fresh and interesting information and tools your readers may never have heard of.

Fireworks.
Photo by foxypar4

A great place to find resources is by searching del.icio.us. Results will be returned based on the most popular bookmarks for that keyword. If you’re looking for articles about web design, for example, searching ‘web design’ will return hundreds of popular web design bookmarks. I’ve found dozens of wonderful resources using this method.

3. Perfect your headline

The headline is probably the most important part of your resource list. Headlines for these types of posts tend to be most effective when they include a number. When it comes to numbers, bigger numbers are not always better. Certain formulas (like 100, 101, and so on) can seem gimmicky to web users who see them often. If your target audience is tech-savvy they are likely to be quite jaded by over-used headline formulas.

Another useful tip is to do one of two things with your headline: either make a direct call to your target audience or focus on ends.

Call upon your target audience
If you address your list as ‘for’ a certain type of person it makes the list a lot harder for your target audience to ignore. I could have called my list post ’110+ Creative Resources’ but that simply describes the contents of the list — it doesn’t draw people in. By describing the list as ’110+ Resources for Creative Minds’, it forces the reader to think: “Am I a creative mind? I like to think so… so I guess I should read the post!”

Focus on ends
Readers are not interested in the list itself, but in what it has the potential to do for them. A list of “20 Firefox Extensions” is not as interesting as a list of “20 Firefox Extensions that *Will* Make You More Productive”. That’s not a great example, but I hope you can see what I mean. Use your headline to explain what your list has the potential to do.

Points to review

  • The best resource lists give readers what they want.
  • Make sure your resources and links are interesting and (hopefully) undiscovered.
  • Don’t link to anything you wouldn’t use yourself.
  • Craft the perfect headline for your resource list.

Have you had any social media success with a list of resources?

Read more posts like this one at Skellie’s blog, Skelliewag.org and track her posts here at ProBlogger by subscribing to our RSS Feed.

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Comments

  1. BW says:

    Excellent post as usual.

    I have done lists before and they have proven popular. But these have not been resource lists as such.

    I have a lot of sites that I use for information and your post has made me think about incorporating them into a list for my readers.

    Thanks

  2. Thats odd because i think my resource posts always seem to do better than my regular articles as well. People really do love a good list of resources.

  3. Bitten says:

    Great post, Skellie, but I’d like to hear more tips about the #1. Do you have anything to share?

  4. Mike Goad says:

    Interesting post. I’m focusing on the static pages of one of my sites right now.

    One of the things I’m planning on doing is providing list of resources. I hadn’t thought of filtering out “low-quality resources and uninteresting resources,” but it’s a good point that I’ll need to remember.

    Also, I use del.icio.us for bookmarking the stuff that I like, but I hadn’t thought of using it to search for resources that others like. Great post and I’ll probably use it on my blogs, too — after I bookmark it on del.icio.us! ;)

  5. Recently I had very good results with a simple post about the “Four hot Gadgets of 2008″.

    It was not reached the Digg frontpage but it attracted a lot of traffic in the past holidays, and it was cool because usually holidays is not so good for traffic.

    People love the list-type posts.

  6. Great topic Darren!

    We have noticed posts that we list resources in seem to maintain traffic over longer periods of time, but we have not yet done a post of pure resources. It would be interesting to see the longevity it could hold.

    Mr. Gentlenibbles

  7. Sorry, the credit goes to Skellie! I should have paid better attention

  8. I love those kinds of articles. They are my favorites. I even do searchs for titles with numbers on them (specially with my favorite keywords, like “110, web, design”) I hope to do something like that on my site’s blog soon.

  9. Stellare says:

    I have noticed that lists seem to be very popular. However, I did not succeed myself with my Top 8 Earth Observation Events in 2008.

    Maybe it is not good enough.? Or my targeted reader group are not frequent users of Web 2.0?

    I have a feeling lists might work very well, just not in all niches.

  10. Btw, excellent resource list you put as an example. Love it!

  11. Rinaldo says:

    Interesting how the most recent article in North x East also suggests doing a resource list to be a better blogger. No doubt is one of the most powerful types of posts that someone can publish.

  12. Rinaldo says:

    Heh, just checked the writer of the article I mentioned. You know what you’re talking about Skellie :).

  13. Ritu says:

    Great post again Skellie! Just finsihed reading your posts on Skelliewag and Anywired. With all these interesting posts and blogs, you are keeping me busy. I need to speed up so I can catch up with all your informative post :-)

  14. Sonia Simone says:

    Very nice tip about de.licio.us, I will try that out. Thanks!

  15. Rhea says:

    I wanna be on page 1 of Digg. This is the best advice I’ve seen yet!

  16. white.wizard says:

    great article, important tips and hints for must of us. thank you.

  17. My post “10 Methods to Release After a Long Day, Week, or Lifetime of Work” (linked in my name above) got a lot of attention bringing in a few thousand readers in a course of two days from Stumble Upon. I think using the word “Methods” instead of ‘tips’ or ‘things’ helped because people filter words like those out since they see them so much.

  18. Frugal Dad says:

    I wrote something like this that made its way to being featured on Associated Content, a popular article directory. Unfortunately, it was before I ran Frugal Dad so I didn’t get the benefit of an traffic, other than the internal page views from AC.

  19. fix8ed says:

    Great post.

    I am having the hardest time getting digs. I’ve created a few resource lists but I’m still seeing maybe 1-3 diggs total. Maybe it’s just the genre of my blog?

  20. I have been thinking of doing a resource list for some time. I just can’t seem to figure out what the subject will be. I’ll take your suggestions though.

  21. Kristen says:

    This is a very timely post, I must say. I am so glad to know these things as I am in the process of getting a list together of my own to be posted at the end of the month.
    Thanks

  22. Dereks says:

    The main issue here is to understand specifics of digg and del.icio.us, what’s their purpose.
    I use del.icio.us as a link storage of useful articles/posts. Unlike bookmarks, where I put only those pages, which i visit from time to time. At least half of all posts tagged their aren’t even ever read. I just come upon some post with an interesting topic, some “how-to guide” aforementioned list. I just take a brief look over it: how is it composed, formated, structured. And than I say “Oh, it may be very useful one day” and tag it.
    So, frankly, the quality of links don’t even matter in case of getting ranked. But it can fail you in long term, when that day comes and the reader finds out that the post isn’t so useful, as it was thought.

  23. These resource lists are going to hit critical mass soon. As a regular Digg user I see many lists like these on a daily basis, and as with anything that gets done to death on Digg, there’s bound to be a backlash against them sooner or later.

    My advice: get in while you can :)

  24. Skellie says:

    Thanks for the comments, everyone :-)

    @ Bitten: That’s really worthy of a post in and of itself, but my key advice would be to listen to them: take note of the questions they ask in comments and emails, or the things they’re having trouble with. Alternately, just ask them.

    @ Waye Christie: I agree — they’re very popular, but I suspect that bloggers hoping to capitalize on a resource list should do so relatively quickly, before Digg users are on to a new thing :).

  25. CatherineL says:

    Hi Skellie – I’ve seen your resource list and it has some brilliant links, so I can understand people referring to it constantly,

    Did you need to do anything else to attract people to the post aside from write it and come up with a good headline?

    There just seems to be such an overwhelming amount of posts on Digg, that it looks impossible to be discovered.

    Also, did you get to the first page as soon as it was submitted, or does the process take a little longer?

    Thank you.

  26. Ron says:

    Obviously it will not be resources as my blog is sports related, but this post inspired me to make a list, of sporting events

    thanks

  27. This is very good to know. Excellent post.

  28. Tech Slice says:

    Nice post. I’ve been trying using social bookmarking to drive traffic without much luck.

  29. Sangesh says:

    Skellie, it’s always a pleasure to go through your blog. I also like your personal blog too. Your posts are always good and this one is not an exception.

    Cheers.

  30. Justin Dupre says:

    I put together a list of Adsense alternatives for people that might not be able to use them for any particular reason. I expected a little to much and didnt get quite the reply I wanted to, but it still did okay. I keep building the list and link to it in my blog on my blogroll, so it still gets lots of hits.

    Justin Dupre
    http://www.blogosis.com

  31. Wayne Liew says:

    A resource list with with over 50 or 100 points in it surely is a great social media favorite post. However, I have seen blogs,for example, covering gardening tips posting resource lists like 50 WordPress theme.

    Although it might be a great list to bring in social media traffic, I don’t see any advantage of this as leveraging such traffic will be impossible and other than that particular day and a possible server crash, there is no benefit for that blog at all.

  32. Dee Copeland says:

    I think you’re right. I’m glad I saw this post this week because I’ve been gathering green building and green living resources, especially if they relate to Texas.

    I don’t want to be boring, so will bookmark this post.

  33. Thanks for the informative article. I really need to investigate targeting the social media websites to increase my blog’s exposure – just the same old case of so much to do, so little time!

    - Martin Reed

  34. stress says:

    great post, i think content will always be the king