Social media gold lies in the inner circle

By Neicole Crepeau, Contributing {grow} Columnist

As content marketing grows up one thing is becoming apparent: the real gold is in getting your post to the inner circle. Back in March, I blogged about the value of the content curator as a way to reach the smaller networks where friends share with friends. Recent research only validates the importance of getting your content into those smaller, close networks of friends and family.

Let’s look at the facts.

A recent AOL-Nielsen study showed that 23% of social media messages include content.  60% of that content is shared as a link back to a published piece. Another 36% is embedded in the share. In other words, people share content a lot, and the majority of the time they share it as a link.

What may surprise you, though, is that “overwhelmingly, people prefer to share content with friends and family.” Most of the sharing that people do isn’t to the public at large, but to their own smaller network of family and friends. (Though, a good quarter of people do share with colleagues regularly.)

In other words, most of the sharing that average folk do involves sharing to a limited set of relatively close friends and family.

Another study of sharing via apps on Facebook showed that auto-generated “broadcast” messages that appear in users’ social streams massively drive up user adoption of the application. When users added a personal message (like “Check out this cool app I found!”), adoption increased by another 98%. Messages in the users’ stream are 10 times more effective than banner ads for gaining adoption.

Again, content shared in the inner circle carries greater influence, especially if accompanied by a personal message.

The challenge is how to get your content into that inner circle? Most of us share our content with as large an audience as we can garner, or we share with influencers who have large audiences. We hope that enough of the audience will pass our content on so that, eventually, it gets shared by individuals with their close friends, family, or colleagues, increasing the chances that the content will actually be seen by our target customers.

It’s a pretty inefficient approach.

There are a couple of other factors, though, that change the picture.

People want to share information from people they trust.  38% of people say that this is the type of content they want to share the most. (That’s true of industry-specific content, too, by the way.) People are also more likely to click on links shared by someone they know. If that link is reshared to people who don’t know the original sharer, the click-through rate drops.

At the same time, when established influencers share links, they get far higher clickthrough rates than average users do (400% higher). If these influencers add a personal message, the rate is another 20% greater. These perceived experts are trusted, and garner results because of it.

People tend to share and click links in specific categories or genres, too.  This study of Facebook sharing showed that “frequent linkers on Facebook have distinctive genre, topic and source patterns particular to their interests.”  TechCrunch reports on another study that indicated, “When it comes to sharing, 80 percent of people share only one category of links and more than 70 percent will only ever click on one category, whether that is business, politics, or entertainment.“

So, the real strategy to get content into those valuable inner circles? Become a trusted source for content on specific topics, i.e., a content curator. Being a good content curator gives you a better chance of buying entry into the inner circles of large numbers of your target customers—and increases the likelihood that users will read the content that you share.

Neicole Crepeau is a partner in Coherent Interactive, which specializes in web, mobile, and social media design and implementation for small and mid-size businesses.  You can read more of her original material at her blog, Coherent Social Media or on Twitter where she is @neicolec.  This month, Neicole’s company will be releasing a new tool to help you become a better content curator. Called CurateXpress, our product will help you share better content, and get more value and a larger audience from it. So, follow @CurateXpress on Twitter or sign-up on our CurateXpress website to be notified when we launch the beta!

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  • Very interesting to read about the idea of a ‘content curator’, thanks for sharing this Nicole!

    With the wealth of information on the internet, it’s not surprising that we only stick with one niche, as it’s a niche we know and can trust. Being able to earn the trust of those who stick with one niche will certainly pay dividends as they repeatedly come to you for their content.

    Thanks for hosting this Mark 🙂

  • Fascinating ! But it’s the tipping point I don’t really understand. I’ve noticed that a few weeks ago something happened with my tweets and blog. It just suddenly increased in terms of engagement. I haven’t consciously done anything different. Perhaps it’s more a case of small steps to a big change. You kind of edge your way into the inner circle by providing content of a particular kind consistently and regularly over a period of time, coupled with interaction and engagement with your established and growing network. 

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  • Hi there Neicole! Boy, you’re showing up everywhere! 🙂

    As the resident librarian at the Blog Library, I am of course infatuated with this post. You delineate a lot of key points about content curation that I think bear some focus.

    For example:

    Curating content does not mean going to all of the most famous websites and linking to them in hopes that your traffic will spike.

    Curating content in a way that will make you credible also, to me (and I don’t want to ruffle any feathers here) means that you need to read, absorb, and evaluate the posts or content you are sharing. This is why I have not taken the dive into Triberr yet.

    On the other side of the coin, if someone is curating my content, I want to know it’s because they really found value in it and weren’t just hoping for a reciprocal link.

    I have great fears that the recent emphasis on curated content is going to lead to link bait games or irresponsible curating, all of which could give the practice a bad name. Hopefully your post can help us avoid that fate.

    Great post! I’m off to share it now 🙂

  • Thanks, Marjorie. You and I are on the same page. I dislike auto-tweeting, including the auto-tweet part of Triberr, because I think it’s important to read what you share. And I have the same fears re: the effects of link-sharing without real curation.

  • I think it’s kind of like brand awareness. You have to be consistent and regular with your message. Eventually, that pays off. I’m glad it has for you!

  • Thanks!

  • Thanks for the ideas and views.
    Currently I have slowed way down with eveything, and am looking to impliment a real structure, strategy and tactics to all of it.
    Google+ circles might be the best answer for me as it allows for selection of your curation and distribution.

  • Hey Neicole,

    Love how you found all this research data to bring your point home! Very cool. This nerd likes his logic.

    One distinction I think that runs through all of your finding is people’s desire to be admired and who better to be admired by then those you’re in contact most?

    The quest to help your fans be seen as a hero to themselves and their friends is a worthy and never-ending task in the world of content creation. 🙂

  • Good common sense, pretty obvious once articulated, but most would not have made the connection between the strength of a connection with someone known/trusted Vs just someone who appears. The numbers around the relative strength are very useful.
    The real power is in the repeated curation of material to  increasing networks of those who may be interested, and are connected. This curation process communicates material that just a few years ago would not have found an audience.
    Thanks for a good post.

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  • I share a lot of content – some my own – so I consider myself a curator, but how do you become a trusted source? This is a great post and if I am reading it correctly, the click-through goes down if you are not ‘known’ or ‘trusted’ so even if you are sharing great stuff, how do you establish that level of trust if nobody is really clicking on the stuff you share?

  • It is a bit of a chicken and egg problem. I think the thing is to build your own audience/connections, keep sharing good content with good headlines in multiple locations online, and over time your name spreads as people retweet/reshare.

  • Very true. It’s hard to know for certain, but I think the trend will be to become more selective about people you follow and to use human curators as a way to find good content.

  • True! Actually, the little product we are working on, CurateXpress, plays right into that desire. 

  • I think we are all feeling overwhelmed, these days, and trying to figure out how to find a balance…

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