By Todd Murphy | December 9th, 2010
Every year, but with growing frequency, people and organizations try to create order out of the prior 12 months (11 months in most cases). This ordering process takes form of the “Top 10 List” and purports to rank any and every topic imaginable. As a blogging technique, or social networking strategy, all the books and experts will tell you that it is actually a very successful tool. People like lists, and as it turns out, it appears search engines also like them. There’s even a site devoted solely to Top 10 Lists, http://top-10-list.org/
Seeing a tweet, Facebook post, or even a Linkedin discussion with the words “Top 10”, “Top 5” or even “Top 3” piques the interest of enough people that it is truly a strategy for engagement. If you are creating a list you should be asking yourself, “What can I place in order that will truly be of interest to others?” Generally, as Warren Buffett would say, invest in what you know. What is your sandbox, your product, your area of influence? Straying outside of what you know usually has the worst impact a marketing person could achieve, little to no impact at all.
The beauty of a “Top X” list is that it can be fairly simple to create and very enjoyable to compile. At Universal Information Services we come in contact with virtually every news story that breaks throughout the year. As a complete news monitoring service we not only see all the news online, but all the news that was actually broadcast or published. Our news monitoring and media analysis teams have the ability to quantitatively measure the biggest stories, then compile our list of “The Top 5 Biggest News Stories”…by volume. Our list uses statistics to measure which news stories were seen the most, not necessarily which stories had the greatest impact on society or represented the greatest value. We can, however, localize our “Top 5” lists to specific cities, helping ensure greater exposure from traditional and social media outlets.
So we use the media to create our Top 5 list, which in turn generates more media exposure for Universal Information Services…media begets media. Ironically, this is completely in line with our #samerules #newtools philosophy. The new tools of social networking help amplify small messages to the point that traditional media takes notice. As traditional media now uses the same social networking tools that we all have access to, they are able to cover stories in the traditional media that previously would have earned no placement.
As we enter December, brace yourself for the onslaught of Top 10 Lists. As a fun exercise, use your preferred Twitter client, I prefer Tweetdeck, and open a search for “top 10”. I began writing this blog about 20 minutes ago and in that time I have averaged about 1 tweet per second that includes a mention and link to a top 10 list. Many of them are retweets because, well, most Twitter users don’t really want to create new content, they’d just rather RT someone’s idea and be considered part of the “engaged” crowd. Not that I have anything against retweeting, I do it all the time. But one of the top two rules for social media engagement is to be sure you provide compelling content. That’s a topic for another post.
Leave a comment or link to your favorite Top X list. Who knows, maybe I’ll release a Top 10 List of the Top 10 lists received.