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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