The Path to Posting the Perfect Pic (and possibly going viral)
Now that you have your image posted on various social networks, it’s time to expose it through the 3 major social news sites: Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon. This is where quality counts, but it’s not everything. Do not get offended if you don’t do well on these sites. They are “home run swings” – popping on any of them can potentially send tens of thousands of visitors to your image and give your image the boost it needs to get noticed and go viral, but it’s often a game of luck.
Still, they’re worth taking a swing.
Pinterest is the only one of the four sites you shared your image on that hasn’t hit the front page of Digg before. That should change a more people start submitting the domain, but for now, start with the other 3. Do not submit them simultaneously. Leave at least a 24-hour gap between your submissions of the same image.
When titling, it’s important to put (PIC) after the title. Images do the best on Digg (and Reddit, and Stumble) but unless you submit the raw image it will only appear as a thumbnail, so you’ll want to let visitors know when they see the headline that it’s a picture.
We could (and probably should) post a very long article about the science and art of getting content to the front page of Digg, but for now if you’re not a “power user” your best chance is to hope that a staff member sees it and highlights it in “Staff Picks”, otherwise your chances of hitting the front page as a new user are next to nil. Again, it’s still worth the swing (as it only takes about 30 seconds to submit).
Reddit is a community that enjoys snark and beauty, uniqueness that is universal, and generally anything that’s awesome. A brand new user with the right content and the right title can get hundreds of thousands of views of their image, but be warned: the site does not tolerate much of anything. Poor titling, low quality, bad timing – all can play a role in your image not being seen.
If you could care less about getting credit for the image (other than being the submitter) and want to give it the best chance for sheer exposure, upload it to Imgur. The community trusts Imgur so it has a “free pass” that makes it the easiest to submit and go viral, but again there would be no way to attach the image to you. If it’s exceptional, expect it to get stolen and used. It’s just part of the game.
The biggest subreddits for images are r/pics and r/funny, but you can post it to whatever category fits. Do not put (PIC) after your title.
Unfortunately, if you aren’t already an avid user of StumbleUpon that has made dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of discoveries, you may do more harm than good by discovering your image yourself. You may be better off hoping that a strong account finds it and Stumbles it for you.
StumbleUpon is arguably the best “viral pic maker” out there. An amazing image that gets chosen by the community can get millions of visitors over an extended period of time. It’s also the most difficult to make work, but as with the other two the longshot is worth taking the swing.
Facebook and Twitter
You’re probably already a master at sharing on Twitter and Facebook. For going viral with your image, you should use them differently than you have in the past. Rather than uploading the image to Facebook and then Tweeting it (which is probably how you handle most of your images) you should share your social links on them. Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon all have toolbars and URL shorteners that will allow logged-in member who click on your link to vote for them.
Digg has 24 hours to “pop” so share with it first. If you share a second one (and hope that you don’t annoy your friends), pick either Reddit or StumbleUpon. Reddit has an equally-short time frame through which your image can get popular, but StumbleUpon has no limit. You can share the image a week, a month, or a year later and it has a chance of getting traction.
If your image isn’t viral (just as the one I’m demonstrating with) then it simply won’t work. If it IS viral, there’s still a good chance that it won’t fly. Don’t let social media ever affect your self-worth one way or another. Even if you are able to make it go viral, don’t get a big head or think you’re a master photographer (unless, of course, you really are a master photography). If it doesn’t go viral, don’t think your skills or tastes suck. Social media is supposed to be fun and fulfilling and all-too-often I see people judge their value as humans based upon their standing in social media.
It’s all just for fun and it isn’t real life. Don’t sweat it.
Also of note: this is not a marketing technique. If you have an ad that you want to promote, this isn’t the way to do it. For businesses, there are plenty of ways of using social media to your advantage. This isn’t one of them. This is for cats. Social media loves cats.