photo credit: Gandalfar
In distributing content, it’s possible to increase posts’ propensity to go hot in social channels, simply by publishing correctly to social distribution networks built amongst individuals in your organization.

Publishing “correctly” means, when pressing the CMS “publish” button, your message instantly touches hundreds, thousands and potentially millions of similar-minded folks all over the world.

“Viral” (or not) means when first-degree-of-separation-friends either propagate or ignore content, which does or doesn’t resonate. As a central strategy, a core group on your social marketing team needs to be active personally and/or professionally on either FaceBook, Twitter or both, in order to achieve a large enough sampling of first-recipients to comprise an effective personal distribution network.

Anthropology & Revolution
In September, 2007 we noted emergent potency in viral cross pollination techniques. Now 16 months later, a more massive migration of mainstream users to online gathering places, is clearly underway.

Co-workers, classmates, friends, relatives and companies are flocking to FaceBook. Twitter has gone mainstream in a big way. These software community-making tools operate on a concepts key to human-kind’s socio-technological evolution: communication by human feeds.

“For goodness sakes my 70 year old, non-tech-savvy mother uses FaceBook and often pings me early-evening to see how her still-little boy is doing.”

All the World’s a Feed
As I type on this computer, fax, send pictures by mail, make friends at temple, blow off a dumb-ass spammer, email the office or call my sister back, I’m populating human feeds with physical content. Deliver heated verbal rebuttals to my teenager, take videos on family vacation, call my plumber or pet the cats–these too are examples.

Each aforementioned communication node can become recurrent, that is repeated enough to be noted as a trend and bear description. It’s the “plumber feed” or “family video feed.” The only question is “how will this feed be distributed?”

As a species, we’re well past shouting from rooftop to rooftop, sending a letter or making a phone call. FaceBook and Twitter are simply tools to organize these communication streams into personal distribution networks online.

FaceBook and Twitter are multi-directional social feed aggregators, which means we set up channels, broadcast and subscribe for consumption if so desired. Each person who participates connects for personal, business or a combination of reasons.

As for me, I use my social media profiles mostly for professional networking, however I’m real-life friends with many of these people. I’ve noticed that my family does not seem to balk at filtering professional communications amongst my family feeds.

“My personal feeds are the aggregate of my whole life and whole person. All of us are unique and interact in life, as online, by our own methods.”

Give Him The First Degree
The first degree of separation is whenever I post something that all my friends can see. Theoretically, these members of my inner circle are at least somewhat likely to find meaning and value in the messages. After all, these are my “friends!” Therefore the first degree of separation is likely to be more viral.

Suppose I am discriminating in who I follow and friend, have 500 FaceBook friends, 800 blog subscribers and 800 Twitter followers (modest numbers these days). Because of probable overlap between subscription channels, assume the count of actual total unique friends is 1300.

When I publish to aimClear Blog, a WordPress plugin automatically pushes to my Twitter feed, mostly comprised of professional associates interested in marketing, the topic I write about most. Other friends who’ve subscribed to the aimClear Blog’s RSS feed, see the post in their feed reader or recieve it by email.  Because I subscribe to auto-share to my own blog’s feed in FaceBook, my FB friends see that “Marty Weintraub has written a note.” These channels comprise my social distribution network.

Each unique friend who receives the post, counts as a social impression. Here’s where the magic sauce is cooked: literally any single friend may have influence enough to send thousands of visitors to my content by  passing it along to Digg, Reddit, Delicious, StumbleUpon, FriendFeed and hundreds of niche’ micro-communities that matter! It’s completely feasible that one or more tweople might share with all their FB friends or retweet! Think about potential value in exponential rebroadcast to the second degree of separation!

Referral to the Second Degree
When relevant content resonates, the first degree of separation can easily yield referrals to the second degree, which can have staggering socio-mathematical implications.

First, touch 5000 friends (say across 3 peoples’ profiles) who have an average of 500 total FaceBook and/or Twitter friends each. Degree #2 could be worth up to a whopping 2.5 million unique social impressions. This doesn’t even include the possibility of any single freakin’ individual’s re-feed of the content to additional sharing communities including

Get Everyone Involved
We’ve come to believe that the most effective way for organizations to market socially, is to have deeply committed internal marketing staff, truly networked socially. This can’t be forced, only piggy backed on top of team members’ authentic interest in social media participation, experience in at least one channel and a willingness to grow new contacts.

Commercial Usage & Social Distribution

  • A central group of players in your corporate social marketing system, need to be personally and professionally active, either on FaceBook, Twitter or both. Allocate plenty of time at work for them to do so. Let them include personal activities within a corporate policy.
  • These participants should be social media addicts. When vetting possible team members, ask questions which surround personal usage. Encourage them to be all about sharing.
  • Share other people’s content with your distribution network, at rate of at least 75:1, other content to yours. Leveraging social impressions is far from a self-centered activity.
  • Whether expressed in friendship segments created specifically for marketing purposes or personal accounts, every post published on every feed, should push or be pulled to as large a first degree of social impressions as possible.
  • Accomplish this by identifying which FaceBook & Twitter accounts, belong to individual team members and/or create corporate avatars. In a perfect world, marketing team principles’ social lives overlap personal, so key players come to the marketing endeavor with a rich network already in place to share. Publish content which makes them proud to share with friends.
  • Look past your Internet marketing team. Identify topical areas of content and poll all employees to align topics being broadcast by feed, and socially engaged staffers who might enjoy keeping their community apprised of “what’s happening at work.”  This is an especially powerful tactic when a company has achieved buy-in and commitment, from the rank and file, for the corporate mission.
  • Publish by best practices. Include technical mechanisms to broadcast posts to Twitter (Twitter Updater Plug) and pull from FaceBook (Import Notes settings). Keep these processes current and stay aware of other social channels, ripe for expansion of automated social distribution.
  • Remember that the personal recommendations of few, extrapolated by social degrees of separation, can cause a powerful ripple effect which could result in exponentially self-escalating content promotion. We’ve experienced breaking the server by these methods.

Life is about physical feeds. Social media mirrors physical life. When publishing content by feed online it’s possible to increase a post’s likelihood of being resubmitted to other social channels, just by publishing correctly.

Increase the number of eyeballs and hearts touched, by intentionally organizing a social distribution network. A core group of fanatically committed social media addicts on your team needs to be active personally and/or professionally on either FaceBook, Twitter or both. Create focused girth in the first degree of separation.

  • Nam

    Great post Marty,
    It’s astounding how many people you can reach in a matter of minutes. If businesses set clearly defined goals in the beginning, the degree of separation for “success” seems small.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @nam: Yup, especially when an organization gets several social media participants engaged in the project, honestly sharing amongst community. The first degree of separation count goes up quickly. Thanks for the comment.

  • Eric Fransen

    Marty – Great post! Thank you for taking the time to articulate your thoughts into writings for all of us.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Eric Fransen: Thanks, we’ve been chewing on this theory @aimClear for a while now with clients and the results are lovely. One great way to “socialize” a company is to have socialized people work there and welcome their personal/professional networks to your corporate marketing process.

  • Joe Thornton

    Funny you posted this topic today. I am just in a similar discussion with a colleague in Europe about how we can better use these networks to get our messagges out to our audiences. Good stuff.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Joe Thornton: I think it’s on the mind of many. The cool part is the many outstanding, authentic, holistic and incredibly powerful solution are low cost…simply by publishing advised, humble & strong.

    Nice to hear from you Joe. For our readers who don’t know Joe Thornton, he was the News (& News Director( anchor @ KDLH, the Duluth CBS affiliate. We worked together in the mid-90s and became close friends. Joe was “convergence” before convergence was cool.

    He drove to Burnsville with me in 1995, to move my first digital recording studio up to Duluth. Good to see you again. Twitter @aimclear.

  • Lee Odden

    It’s like the social media matrix! Nice post Marty.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Lee Odden. Thanks Lee. Once again, it seems like SEM bloggers figured this out.

    Like, last year I followed you as you began importing notes, each time you posted to TopRank Blog, into FB and the light bulb went off in my head.

    Then in December was training a client in Miami and thought, “gosh, if we can get ALL of these people at the marketing table to share whatever first degree was appropriate, we could really get something done.

    Thanks for stopping by Lee. Stay warm.

  • Dawid Ryba

    Marty – Great post! It’s astounding how many people you can reach in a matter of minutes

  • Ken Boasso

    @kboasso Stellar… I love the way you’ve broke this down and are guiding viral “carriers” on keeping the brand focus — Don’t misunderstand; I get it & agree that none of this can be forced. Another thing the “carriers” can do to accelerate the aggregate effect even more is have them all refer back to a central social business community

  • Y. Steven

    That one must have taken an ages to write. Thanks marty for taking your time in observation. And i do agree with this point “Get Everyone Involved” we can’t just live without anyone help to grow market

  • Daniel Tunkelang

    Marty, nice post. But I’m curious what you think as people’s collections of online friends clearly exceed their ability to allocate attention to all of them. Specifically, I’d love to hear your reaction to this post I wrote the other day:

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Daniel Tunkelang: Your post is interesting and I recommend it to our readers. Social media, as in life, is too busy to evenly allocate time to all friends. For instance I have many acquaintances in life, for whom there is little time to interact. Non the less, I consider them valuable spokes in my wheel of friends.