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Copying, Sharing and The Hyper-Viral Dream of Social Media

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Want to lease space in your client’s minds, by leveraging the time they spend on the web?

Then it’s time to wake up.

To continue from our last discussion on this topic, the thing to wake up from is this dream of hyper-viral-marketing through the combination of blogs and social media.

Most people never will never be on the front page of DIgg. Most people don’t need to be on the front page of Digg, despite the links and traffic it can generate. Most popular sites have never been, and aren’t actively seeking that as a strategy.

That’s because they know that for a business to thrive, while you do need those links, you can generate them elsewhere. And while you do need visitors coming to your site, you need the type that convert. It’s not that DIgg traffic never does, it’s that there are more cost-efficient solutions, not to mention time-efficient ones for the majority of websites.

And yet the dream of a mega-viral accident is often the selling point of building a blog.

It goes like this.

Jack hears about this cool site called Digg. He’s new to the Web, and doesn’t get how these things work – all the better for him on one hand. On the other, it’s that much easier to get caught up in the hype, if the whole internet used to be hype to you. You find yourself questioning all of your beliefs about marketing, when you see how easy it is to start blogging.

That is, if you’re like Jack.

So you put together the fact that most Joe Schmoes who end up on Digg got there from blogging. Mostly people who’ve been blogging for a while. So you start blogging. And you start submitting.

After all, how often does the regular person or tiny company get featured coverage on sites like Digg or Mixx without a blog?

And even if they never achieve that objective, there are many avenues for blogs to have a series of mini-viral events, such as being retweeted on Twitter, or shared on Facebook enough to get one of the prized homepage-sidebar spots.

There are few for static sites. None for offline companies that aren’t somehow plugged into the sharing network.

And so that balance is coveted by Jack. But Jack can’t get there, and because he started blogging to get on Digg, he stops.

Few achieve the dream – which IS attainable by the way. It’s a long shot but it’s not impossible. The main secret is that anyone can get on the front page of Digg – very few people can STAY there.

Back to our discussion.

The fact that it’s getting harder to achieve viral success could be another reason why blog growth is slowing. If one can’t get one’s blog link retweeted 10 – 100 times a day, it feels like blogging is pointless. It looks so easy to get people to retweet you, from the outside looking in, so you feel like a loser if you can’t do it on your first try.

When more people read blogs often, we were all more in touch with the fact that success is not instant. We often climbed the two year journey of becoming an overnight online success together. So we saw the pains it took. We were both in the audience and behind the curtain, as either fans of a blog or as bloggers ourselves.

This was part of the magic of blogging.

If you’re paying attention, you can see why these heights of coverage are increasingly difficult to attain. Much of it goes back to the Laws of Media, particularly in being copied and shared. Those are the things we need to be successful in Social Media, as well. It’s not just the fact that we have to catch the eye of the person who is adapting to streaming content.

It’s in forgetting these laws, because we’re not reading blogs and other resources as deeply. Based on just two of the laws in Kelly’s presentation which we talked about in the previous post, it becomes clear why the pace of blogging and promoting via social media is increasingly difficult to sustain.

First, the elements that can’t be copied are few, and getting fewer. There was the first blog post about business blogging, then the first blog dedicated solely to it.

Now there are thousands of each. The ones that stand out do because they’re doing something special that is well marketed to a large audience that wants to read about it.

Second, being both shareable and uncopyable is a delicate balance.

To be shareable though, at the same time as you maintain this marketable specialness, you have to make your work portable, but still own-able by you or at least traceable to you- that’s if you intend for content to ultimately market you.

They have to at least be able to copy the whole if not the parts- perhaps by embedding the video but not being able to change it. They need to be able to reference it, if not rip it – if it’s an article in your blog there at least has to be a link to be copied and passed around.

So how do you write this mystical, magical blog post every day, at least while you’re launching – that will always be the thing everyone wants to talk about, read or share?

You can’t.

It was hard enough before you had to compete with Facebook and Twitter for eyeballs.

That is so much the where and why of blogs for business are dying – the airy seduction of possible mega-viral stardom is no longer just outside our grasp, it seems like it’s on another planet.

You have to be remarkable, full time, to even be seen. And if you have no other new media strategy, being seen is all there is. As little as a year ago, to have that kind of exposure, it was enough to be first, best or on-and-off “pretty good”.

Trying to keep up the pace of performing at your peak on a daily basis is exhausting.

Unless it’s your full time gig, how will you pay bills and blog? People who are able to do this are writing, researching and commenting all the time, every day, some even have rotating staff whose only job is to write, or to follow RSS feeds to get scoops.

Rarely is it the entrepreneur anymore.

Because when you as a business person are able to create this shareable special-ness, one of three things happens.

No one cares…. or it seems that way because you were so busy creating, you couldn’t market, making it an exercise in speaking into the wind… or…

Everyone cares… and now you have a scaling problem of time, cost, resources, or knowledge.

Who is going to write more of this brilliance?

Who is going to pay for all this bandwidth?

How can manage the growth that occurs from becoming popular?

How does this popularity translate into money?

Even if you’re prepared for it, it’s no picnic.

In the final scenario, if neither of those two extremes happens, you may have a medium lukewarm caring that barely puts you ahead of where you are.

If you’re mainly blogging as an entry into search results, that’s not much of a big deal. Of course, blogging will then always give you this lukewarm reward. Just make sure you’re still writing above the level that will get you subscribers, links and sales or you’re spinning your wheels.

Of course, if that’s all you wanted out of blogging, you probably wouldn’t be reading this.

Because then business blogging becomes this thing you have to do because your competitors do it and you don’t want to lose market share in the search engines. You know that’s the easiest in if you have the right strategy, but the question becomes how to implement it in a fresh, new way.

So what IS the right New Media strategy for Business if it’s not just about paving an entry into search engines?

That’s the question we’ll answer next.