Syndication, Content and Social Search

One of the most common questions we get in our classes is this:

“I keep hearing about syndication.  How do I get my content to post everywhere?”

Inevitably they are looking to show up and throw up. (Sorry but it’s true!) Syndication of information is one thing if you are talking about search engine placement but when we start talking about social networking and social search, we are in a whole different ballgame.  If you are syndicating content, where is it going?  How is it contributing to a conversation?  If you aren’t there, who is participating?

If you don’t even want to be there, does anyone else care about you being there?  Or is the conversation happening about your product or service without you?

Image by jonseidman1988

Bad Content + Bad Content = More Bad Content

If you post poor content and expect that it will somehow get better or get stronger legs, you are probably in for serious disappointment in the world of social sharing and social search.  People share content they connect with – that compels them, moves them, inspires them.  Anything that makes people think, smile, laugh, or cry is likely to be shared and shared again.

If you post bad content on hundreds of sites it is probably less likely to find reach than stellar content posted on one site and shared over and over by people moved by it. (Think about the YouTube videos that have gone viral because they made someone laugh or cry).

Bigger is Not Always Better

There is still a tremendous focus on reaching the largest audience possible but the largest audience may not be the best audience for you.  If you have the opportunity to speak to a room of a 1000 people none of whom stop their conversations to even acknowledge your presence, or speak to a room where you have the undivided attention of only fifty people, which is likely to be more rewarding?  More profitable?  Small, targeted groups can have tremendous power.  One small targeted group often overlaps with another small targeted group.  Over time, and with the support and sharing of these small groups, you have the opportunity to reach beyond the power of one or the power of five to develop real connections.  These types of connections are hard if not impossible to develop in a room of a thousand, where no one is invested or cares about you or your message.  When you show up and throw up your content on site after site, you may be speaking to a large audience but that doesn’t mean they are listening.

Don’t get me wrong- syndication is not all bad as long as you have the bandwidth to be where the information goes.  I often use posterous for random photos I like to so share.  It sends my photos to Facebook and to my Flickr account, and occasionally to Twitter.  All of which I look at regularly, read and comment on.  If I posted that photo on numerous other sites that I don’t participate on, it falls on deaf ears.  Who is find it compelling?  I don’t know because I am not there.

Context is Crucial

If you plan to post content, does the context work in environment of the network?  Jeff Turner wrote a great post about this earlier today referencing a situation where he was “sold” by a mortgage broker when checking tips about his gym on Foursquare.  This is a great example of show up and throw up.  How many other places did that message get placed?  If you plan to syndicate your content to multiple networks, it helps to analyze the content for context.  Is it appropriate?  Will my message be well received or could it possibly be offensive because it goes against the tone and environment of the network? Many people think, hey, it falls on deaf ears, no worries.  But what if poorly placed content actually loses you future business?

Having an online presence isn’t enough. You have to be present.
If you aren’t willing to be present, why should anyone else care what you have to say?