Dangerous Minds Successful Social Media Formula

Oct. 8, 2014

Christopher Walken reading The Three Little Pigs. Photos of Elizabeth Taylor’s 1976 trip to Iran. How Sam Cooke invented the Afro. These are the bizarre things that have been discovered via the wildly popular website, Dangerous Minds.

The Dangerous Minds content covers the weird, the obscure and the random of things that creative influencers have done – and more than enough, have forgotten about. Yet, 20, 30, 40 years later this same video is now being shown via YouTube – and then written, shared and discussed amongst many, many people.

These fans can be taken right out of the film High Fidelity [think: punk rockers who geek out over obscure facts, original vinyls and cult-movies], so it’s no wonder that John Cusack is a huge fan.

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This Dangerous Minds audience, which consists of 3.3 million Facebook users and 40 thousand Twitter users, scroll over posts, and then often continue clicking on the permalink to read more on the Dangerous Minds website.

“I’ve always been told by our advertisers that engagement with DM’s readers, in terms of click-through rates, is a lot higher than most,” says co-founder, Richard Metzger.

Founded by husband-and-wife Metzger and Tara McGinley in 2009, the site received 10,000 pageviews on its first day, and now averages 3.5 million unique views in the U.S. every month.

The idea for the site came to Metzger, who was working in marketing Hollywood films at the time, when he realized that sharing video content through social media was irresistible to certain types of people. It was a way for them to define themselves, to show who they “really are” to the outside world, much in the same way music fans used to wear badges on their leather jackets with their favorite bands.

Historically, Metzger is one of the very first people hired to professionally create content for the Internet. Back in 1994 he was an employee of AND Interactive, a CD-ROM production company in Hollywood owned by the cable giant TCI (now AT&T) where his Disinformation website was launched. He became famous in his own right as host of his cult favorite “punk rock 60 Minutes” U.K. network television show, also called Disinformation, which has been seen by practically every band traveling in a van for the past decade.

Creating content is what Metzger and McGinley are good at, and everyone has taken notice. His wife, who also has a Hollywood background as a costumer and fashion stylist, is the person who finds viral videos before they go viral.

Even celebrities have joined the Dangerous Minds cult. Everyone from comedian and actress, Rosie O’Donnell, to Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist, Flea, are all re-tweeting Dangerous Minds material.

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Metzger frequently receives emails or tweets from the very people Dangerous Minds writes about, like Iggy Pop saying, “Wow! I don’t even remember this happening!” Or someone asking, “How did you find this animation I did in the 60’s? I had no idea it was on YouTube!”

Not only influencers, but online publications often pick up their material too; you can find Dangerous Minds content on sites such as The Guardian or The New Yorker.

“Social media and freaky content that people want to share on social media, that is a magical marketing formula,” says Metzger.