How to Find the Best Content to Share

Phil Pallen is a Social Media Designer based in Los Angeles, managing brands for celebrity and high-profile clients throughout North America.

You know that friend who always shares the best stuff on Facebook? Or that person who is always beating you to that witty tweet? You know, that friend we love to hate, who is seemingly from the future. We all have one.

How do you strike Internet gold by sharing those amazing links days before they go viral? Here are some tips that will have you on your way to becoming the next Timeline superstar.

First thing’s first: You’ve got to understand what people like. It seems basic, but it’s true and it’s important. Your friend probably knows how to work a party crowd really well, and it’s the exact same in the digital sphere. Understand your audience and deliver the content they didn’t even know they wanted.

The first barrier is catering to our generation’s diverse sense of humor — not to mention our serious (and unanimous) soft spot for kittens. The Internet is an anything-goes kind of place. Try not to get too bogged down by current trends. (For the record, kittens always prevail.)

The next challenge is knowing where to look. I would bet that most Timeline-savvy hotshots are true Internet explorers, and that’s what you need to be. I’ll be honest, I try to wake up early every morning so that I can scour the Web in flannel pajamas while, eating breakfast. It’s my morning ritual and a routine part of my day.

Where do you start? You can go anywhere on the Web. You can look up anything. The infinite possibilities give me serious anxiety. Or rather, they did. They did, and then I discovered RSS feeds.

You know that thing you always hear about but don’t really use? It was years before I actually started using RSS feeds religiously. If you don’t know about them, they’re a nifty little invention that can improve the way we consume Internet content. Think of them as a highly customized newspaper as opposed to a wildly unorganized vintage bookstore. Rather than having to go to all your favorites sites individually, you can consolidate them into one location.

What I’m not going to do is give you a list of sites to subscribe to. This is something you should do for yourself. The ability to customize your RSS feed reader is one of the best aspects. You should follow sites that make you think, laugh or inspire you. Sites that share content you would want to share (since that’s the point).

Subscribing to a site is really easy. You need to use an RSS reader, and there are a few options. I like Google Reader, but other options include Bloglines or MySyndicaat. Choose the RSS reader you want to use and go to town (we’ll use Google Reader for this example).

Step 1: Go to the website www.google.com/reader

Step 2: Log in or set up a Google ID (if you have to setup a Google ID, then you really need to step up your game).

Step 3: Find the big red “subscribe” button on your favorite website and click it (rather than ignore it, for once).

Step 4: In most cases, it will then ask you to choose your default reader. Choose it and your feed should appear in your reader interface.

Step 5 (optional): Organize your folders in the early stages. That way, you keep a pulse on everything you’ve subscribed to, making it easier to find specific topics and feeds.

Now the fun part: Reading and sharing. Now that everything is in a centralized location, you should try your best to stay on top of it, which is a whole different story.

Don’t be afraid to post and share with personality and opinion. Post with a call to action, such as a question or even an overt ask-for-like. Give it context. A link without context is kind of like dropping an unmarked package at someone’s door step, running away and then expecting them to open it. No one wants that.

This is your chance to show off and share things that are sure to be popular in five days… because you’re so savvy. Good luck with your exploring and if you’ve got any great sites that you want to share, let me know. We’re all friends here.