People are too afraid to be weird when it comes to social media

Social media writers & journalists

From L to R (seated): Storify Cofounder, Burt Herman, Techwire columnist, Rachelle Chong, SFGate Social lead, Jeff Elder, SFGate columnist, Beth Spotswood, & Technorati A.E., Andre Bourque

He came, he sawe, he conked her!

Yes, if there was one overriding message from last night’s San Francisco Blog Club Meetup at Fort Mason, it was dare to be snarky, witty, and just plain weird when you’re using social media to promote and share your content. The ubiquitous Murray Newlands, organizer of the Journalists’ Secrets to Sharable Content: CBS, SF Gate, Techwire & Others, put together another stellar line-up, including Techwire Columnist and former FCC and CPUC Commissioner, Rachelle Chong, Storify Cofounder & former journalist, Burt Herman, SFGate Social Lead, Jeff Elder, CBS San Francisco Editor and SF Gate columnist, Beth Spotswood, and Technorati Associate Editor Andre Bourque.

Unique, original content is the currency of social media

Burt Herman made it clear that the easiest way to fail at social media marketing/communications is to be too derivative. It’s the material that has the strongest emotional content that will cause content to go viral. Rachelle chimed in saying how most of the content she writes for her audience is fairly mundane but it’s the “quirky stuff” she posts that causes Web traffic to spike at Techwire. Case in point was a “speed dating” article Rachelle wrote back in May detailing the matchmaking efforts of the San Francisco Citizens Initiative for Technology and Innovation that organized a get together of fifty small businesses who met up with 50 tech companies based in San Francisco for the sake of helping the small business community thrive as new customers.

Beth Spotswood says she tries to entertain “people who are bored at work.” One of the ways she does it is by taking a more “witty” approach to her blog posts on She cited her experience posing as a tourist and writing a series of blog posts on the experience of visiting tourist traps in San Francisco. Just how important is a title for your blog post? Beth said she was ready to go with the title: “top 5 leading favorite tourist traps” but on a whim changed it to: “What’s your Least Favorite SF Tourist Experience.” The blog post received more than 150 comments, a sure fire sign of positive social media engagement. Make sure you post compelling photos, added Beth.

What goes viral?

NPR's Scott Simon

NPR’s Scott Simon















Anybody recall NPR’s Scott Simon and his tweeting about his mother’s passing? His 1.2 million Twitter followers went apoplectic with empathy driving his tweets around the twitter universe and helping him and NPR garner more than 40,600,000 page results in Google (try searching using the keywords “Scott Simon mother” for yourself.) Personally, I think it was in poor taste. Nothing appears to be sacred in American culture. And those Americans who complain about a lack of privacy should just shut-up. But I digress. 🙂

Burt Herman mentioned, in a plug for Storify, that a lot of people used his platform to promote Simon’s grieving. In understanding what makes content go viral, Jeff Elder said crafting a Tweet is like writing a headline. And the queen of Twitter headlines? Why none other than Penelopy Trunk, the “Jane Austin of Twitter,” according to Elder. Penelopy can literally spend  hours on crafting the perfect tweet. Personally, Penelopy never much appealed to me as I found her too neurotic a personality to follow. But who cares? She’s got more than 100,000 Twitter followers; she’s an entrepreneur and founded three startups.

It was the single Pinterest pin that launched a company, according to Andre Bourque, and if you haven’t read this story it’s time you do. saw sales of its frame rods skyrocket when it opened up its online store as a result of one single blog post by Country Girl Home. Blog owner, Lindsay, featured a photo of a sofa table she personally made. It was pinned hundreds of times, not because of the sofa table but because of the frame rod on the back of the wall. Just goes to show you. Virality can never be predicted just A/B tested.

Tightrope walker crossing Han Solo

Tightrope walker crossing the Han river















Crossing the Han Solo

One more note about the importance of titles when crafting your social media content. Bert Herman reminded listeners of the terrific post back in 2007 by AP writer, BO-MI LIM about the tightrope walkers who came from around the world to walk across South Korea’s Han River to see who could walk across it the fastest. The title of Lim’s post: Skywalkers in Korea Cross Han Solo certainly helped it to go viral and get covered across the Web.

There you have it. Weirdness, creativity, snarky, witty, these are the hallmarks of social media virality. If you want to share with me other examples, please do so in the comments.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Byron Gordon

%d bloggers like this: