I have spoken for years about the merits of using content marketing to help quality content get a lot of visibility, social signals, and possibly go viral.

Recently I wrote an article about the success that content marketing can have, explaining that even with the decline of Digg, which was one of the largest social aggregation sites, we were seeing greater successes with content marketing today than ever before.

However, a test campaign we did last week blew me away, receiving over 12 million views and being picked up by numerous major online publications within a matter of days.

So I wanted to share this case study to really show how content marketing can lead to massive success and visibility, driving lots of traffic, social signals, links and more.

Photos from a Chinese gangster’s lost phone

A member of my team came across a collection of photos on a Chinese website that contained a series of pictures a Chinese gangster had allegedly taken, before losing his phone.

The photos contain a number of interesting photos showcasing the man with his dog, piles of money, beating up some guy, and standing in front of a number of cars.

Due to the website being in Chinese and some other testing reasons, we uploaded the images to Imgur and submitted them to the /r/pics SubReddit of Reddit.com.


The submission actually went quite slow at first and the response on the site was pretty negative (note that the submission got around 15,500 up votes and around 13,000 down votes).

We figured maybe the submission was better suited in the /r/wtf category, and we wanted to test more on how the Reddit community responds to cross posting submissions, so we submitted the collection again to the /r/wtf SubReddit.


Not only did it do better in /r/WTF, with about 20% more positive voting than the /r/pics submission, but both ended up going popular and both were in the top 10 most popular SubReddits, meaning they both likely were on the front page of the site at one point or another, even to logged out users.

The next day we checked the Imgur page, which shows the number of views that images get and noticed that it was at about 5 million views, which was quite impressive. However, we also felt that it was doubtful this was all coming from Reddit, so we started searching around to see who else had picked up the article, which is common of successful content marketing campaigns.

We noticed right away that it had not only been picked up by a number of sites, but by many really authoritative sites, such as Yahoo News, Business Insider, and MailOnline, all of which mentioned either Reddit or the Imgur collection as their source.

Through the day the views on the collection continued to climb rapidly and reached over 11 million by the end of the day.

The following day the articles continued to come out from sites like Boing Boing, ABC News, Vice, BuzzFeed, LiveLeak, and many others.

The current view count is over 12 million now on Imgur alone and not only is it one of the largest campaigns we have ever conducted, but it also serves as a great reminder and example of just how effective content marketing can be in providing the opportunity for content to go viral.

Here are the photos:


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