May 20, 2010

Thinking outside of the niche with big seed propagation planning

We’ve previously blogged on how you can buy social media potential with the valuable combination of the small seed (natural seeding/advocacy within a niche) and a media buy’s big seed (seeding to a bigger, aggregated audience of lesser influential people). That said, wily online PR practitioners will say natural seeding also requires good conversation planning which will always involve talking to as many big seed audiences as possible (creating what I like to think of as previously unsolicited conversations).

Tim (reblogged) from the Viral Ad Network explains exactly why spreadable content should be planted just outside the niche in the big seed so as to increase its replication value:

From a bought and earned media perspective many people believe that the best way to spread your viral to niche interest groups is to manually target users within the niche themselves. But is this the best way to truly spread your [viral] content??

It’s a very controversial suggestion, as it goes against the perceived wisdom – but it’s not a new suggestion.

The concept was very heavily covered a few years ago in the business press (e.g. D.Watts – Harvard Business Review ‘07), although it’s been known of for far longer.

There are a couple of simplified examples in the video below: why do these examples work?

A social grouping consists of people who are connected to each other – assuming that your viral really appeals to that group, the task at hand isn’t being spread inside a social grouping – it’s reaching as many social groupings as possible.

You can only reach one social grouping by contacting someone inside it (if they are connected to another grouping then it’s all one grouping) – by elimination, the only option left is to target people outside of that grouping.

The great news here is that it’s cheaper to target those people – you don’t need the overhead of all the time spent searching for “the perfect seed”, you just show your viral to people.

Not only is it cheaper per viewer, but it’s almost always the case that there are more people closely connected to the grouping than there are inside it – so you’ve got a larger target to aim for with your seeding efforts.

Of course you can narrow down who you’re contacting – people are more likely to be connected to the target market if they’re in the same country, or speak the same language for example.

Other targeting methods can be used to help narrow down the target to people close to these groupings too – targeting broad categories of interests can be a very cost effective way of targeting this wider subset of people, rather than hand-picking site lists, which puts you firmly back towards only reaching the groupings around the sites you’re placed on.

That’s just about the scope of this blog post – hopefully you’ve found it interesting, feel free to comment below.