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Blogosphere Trends + Digging Deeper

This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts). – Darren

Each week, we look at the ten most blogged-about stories of the last seven days, as provided by Regator (which is turning two years old on Saturday!). Today, we’ll see how several great blog posts looked beyond the basics of these popular stories to give their readers more value and provide unique content. Digging deeper to approach posts in an unconventional or creative way can mean the difference between getting noticed and fading into the background. Let’s see some examples:

  1. Proposition/Prop 8
    The basics: Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, was ruled unconstitutional.
    Looking deeper: Daily Intel’s “The Prop 8 Ruling: The Scrutiny Question, and What Will Happen Next?” examines the judge’s methods of scrutinizing the case, how that approach will impact future rulings, and the history of other cases that led to this point. When everyone else is telling readers what happened, do a bit of extra legwork to tell them how it happened.
  2. Chelsea Clinton
    The basics: Chelsea Clinton got married last weekend.
    Looking deeper: Conservative blogger Kathleen McKinley’s “Weddings and More. How Two Former President’s Daughters Are Quite Different” looked beyond the bride’s choice of hairstyle and gown by comparing Chelsea Clinton’s wedding to the wedding of Jenna Bush, another first daughter. She then broadened the comparison past the weddings themselves and into the lifestyles of the young women. Use comparisons to create a post that’s more appealing to readers in your niche.
  3. Android
    The basics: It was reported that Android phones were outselling iPhones.
    Looking deeper: Rather than taking the figures at face value, Cult of Mac spoke to an analyst in an attempt to put the figures in perspective in “Android Competing Against ‘Dumb Phones.’” Take time to question information you receive through press releases, other blogs, magazines, newspapers, television…well, pretty much any source. Don’t be afraid to do some extra reporting.
  4. American Idol
    The basics: Ellen DeGeneres left the show after one season as a judge.
    Looking deeper: While most blogs were awaiting official news about new judges, Pop & Hiss offered ten recommendations and the reasons for each in “Why not hire a music critic as an ‘American Idol’ judge? Ten contestants for the job.” Add your own opinions and recommendations to a story to make it your own.
  5. Oil Spill
    The basics: BP finally managed to stop the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.
    Looking deeper: Investment blog Seeking Alpha chose the angle that worked best for its readers in “Static Kill a Success; What’s BP Worth Now?” The post hypothesizes on the company’s current value and, just as importantly, explains how the blogger arrived at those figures. Use your expertise to provide value to your readers and information that other types of bloggers cannot.
  6. Ground Zero
    The basics: An Islamic cultural center (incorrectly referred to as a “mosque” by some) is set to be built on the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, causing controversy and debate.
    Looking deeper: As the tagline “Answers to your questions about the news” indicates, Slate’s Explainer does a fantastic job of looking beyond the headlines and dissecting issues. “Can anyone stop construction of the mosque near Ground Zero?” which examines the legal and zoning issues around the facility, is no exception. Look for aspects of a story that aren’t being explored and try to tackle unanswered questions.
  7. BlackBerry Torch
    The basics: Research In Motion (RIM) launched the BlackBerry Torch.
    Looking deeper: Instead of simply reporting the release, PCWorld’s “BlackBerry Torch First Impressions: Fresh But Familiar Indeed” blogged their first impressions based on the blogger’s brief interaction with the device at the launch event. Going out and employing a hands-on approach will always get you better results than sitting at your desk waiting for press releases or review products.
  8. Kanye West
    The basics: Kanye West joined Twitter, spawning memes galore.
    Looking deeper: Vulture’s “What Did It Cost to Be Kanye This Week?” is an extremely creative, entertaining approach to the story. Look for trends within a story (e.g., not only is Kanye on Twitter, he often tweets about his lavish lifestyle) to find unusual and creative angles.
  9. Google Wave
    The basics: Google’s much-hyped Google Wave was shuttered this week.
    Looking deeper: In “Why Developers Did Not Adopt Google Wave,” ReadWriteWeb took a broad approach to coverage, discussing reasons Wave may have failed, the future benefits of its brief existence, and previous coverage of the product. Explaining why something happened (as well as how, see example #1) can be just as important as explaining what happened. Take the extra time and effort to give readers more.
  10. Lady Gaga
    The basics: Lady Gaga’s cover story in the latest issue of Vanity Fair and record number of Video Music Awards put her on the list this week.
    Looking deeper: Gawker.tv used a combination of techniques we’ve discussed above—namely using comparisons and identifying why something (in this case, Gaga’s popularity) has occurred—in “Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and the Coup d’Pop: A Diva Revolution.” Developing and supporting your own hypothesis is a sure way to ensure original content.

How do you get beyond the surface story to a unique angle that will appeal to your readership? Share your ideas and methods in the comments!

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of Regator.com and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.

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Comments

  1. Jimmy says:

    Do all the bloggers just blog about the same things? Isn’t being unique kind of important?

  2. jason says:

    Unique content is very important, but when it comes to finding completely original niches or content ideas, there is no such thing. But as long as the ideas are your own, and you are only “inspired” by what you read, and not stealing intellectual property, then as a blogger, you are doing right by your peers and readers.

  3. J.D. Meier says:

    I think it’s all about speaking the language of your tribe in a way that resonates.

    I think it’s also about connecting to the values, which means knowing what your tribe happens to care deeply about.

  4. For personal blogs, it’s too easy to produce unique content because it’s only revolving around one person. For niche bloggers, it’s difficult to produce unique articles if it’s centered around on only one idea. If, for example, one blogger would write about the newest WP plugins, other bloggers would follow suit. But it’s still the same idea. Not unless you are a prolific writer and gifted with an enormous amount of creativity and a passion to deliver in-depth analysis of trends whose primary focus is to entertain, amuse, and capture intelligent readers, only then can you produce content that really stand out from the crowd.

  5. Sam Denis says:

    In my opinion, blogging should be more like a business. Many successful people or I should say bloggers realize this. I believe having articles that are timeless is very important. I think this is also pointed out on a post on this blog.

  6. Matt says:

    Sometimes it might be worth taking an overview approach on a “current events” subject, and applying it to the everyday reader. For example:

    1) Prop 8: what local issues will be affecting your pocketbook in Nov.?
    2) Chelsea: how can you stage an elegant wedding on a budget?
    3) Android: do you need every feature an Android has? How to save money on your cell bill by going back to basics
    4) American Idol: a popular show fades into the sunset; what will take its place?
    5) Oil Spill: How can you profit off the oil industry? (shorting, options, long-term, etc.)

    And so on. Most of these “spins”, of course, involve wallet-related issues. A good way to grab a reader’s attention.

  7. Niche blogging can be difficult when it comes to content unless you can really take a different stance on the subject. A stance that might and could be controversial or so out-of-the-box people just become enamored with the opinions. However, I don’t mind reading one blog on a topic and reading a very similar one on another blog. How people write and explain things often interests me.

  8. David Doolin says:

    “Developing and supporting your own hypothesis is a sure way to ensure original content.”

    This is dead on the money.

    It’s also really friggin’ hard, because you have to “educate” readers without turning them off.

    One way to understand the concept is knowing the difference between chasing keywords, and creating keywords.

    The huge money keywords of today, “problogger” and “google” being two examples, barely existed a few years ago.

    The big money keywords of tomorrow haven’t been thought of yet.

  9. I think with all these new blogs going up everyday it’s going to get saturated with in 15 or 20 years. Can only imagine what the internet will be like than. thanks for the post.

  10. spudart says:

    I really like the “looking deeper” analysis these these posts. Is that part of the weekly highlights on regator? I just signed up for regator.com and I can’t find where I can subscribe to the weekly highlights.

    Can you share the link where I can find the weekly highlights on regator.com?

  11. With just a unique tool called Regator, you could bring a lot of guest posts here, and that just awesome :|