Should you share the same content on multiple networks?

kellithumbThis week’s question is a common one we’ve come across when clients begin using multiple outlets for their content.

I’m using Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook (fan page, group and my personal account) to promote our site and the content we post on our blog. We also use YouTube for video. When I post a new video to YouTube, should I share that video on the blog too? Should I post the link in Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? We have a lot of overlap on the social networks and I’m afraid people will get sick of seeing the same content in three places.

Thanks for your excellent question! In short, my answer would be yes. But, we need to take a look at how content gets shared to understand the reasons why.

Let’s say you’re in charge of marketing, including social media, at a software company. You’ve decided to give it a shot and created a company blog. You blog regularly and get some good traffic, but you’re always looking to get more impact for the time you spend creating content. To gain a bit of exposure, you start sharing your content on three networks – Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. When you’ve got other content, you post it to a media-based site like YouTube, Flickr or SlideShare. So far, things are going well and you’re getting some success at engaging users, having posts go viral and converting a fair share of your new traffic into sales. In short, your social media is a success.

But you have this nagging worry that some of your geekier clients – stalkers, if you will – are getting the same barrage of content on multiple sites. You’re worried they’re going to get sick of you and stop sharing – or worse, stop using your software.

Not to worry – it’s not likely. While a user might connect to you on any multitude of formats (RSS from your blog, Twitter and Facebook, a fan of your YouTube channel), it’s unlikely they’re paying attention to you in each venue. Even though many of your users might be using all of the same social networks, they aren’t using all of them the same way.

Think about how you share content. When you see something you’re eager to share, do you run to Facebook or Twitter? Do you “favorite” things on YouTube and SlideShare or do you email the link to your friends (or share the link in another network entirely)? Are you active in social bookmarking sites like Digg and Delicious? No matter your answer, the point is this: you probably aren’t doing every one of them for every story that catches your eye.

Now let’s get back to your users. Even when the same story hits RSS, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, your users are going to share and spread it a little differently depending on their particular way of sharing content. By leaving out one network, you take a chance that someone who prefers to share in Twitter is going to copy and paste your link from Facebook, if that’s their preference for sharing. While it may not sound like much, it’s added work for a user – and a chance you may not want to take.

There’s another factor when it comes to sharing the same content – something akin to six degrees of separation. Although you might be connecting directly with the same people in Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, the people that they’re connecting with might be different. With the goal being that your network shares your content, the potential market you reach once you get a few steps removed from your original post might be dramatically different from network to network. Let’s look at a diagram to illustrate our point.

How networks share contentHow networks share content

To be sure, there’s going to be some degree of overlap in each level of connections – this is especially true if you’re target market is B2B. That said, by the time my contacts have shared my content with their contacts, I’ve already reached a huge market I couldn’t touch directly. In this way, even a small but dedicated following within a social network can have a huge impact and reach well beyond their limited numbers with a valuable message.

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