Content Velocity: Throwing Snowballs To Start An Avalanche In Search And Social

by , Mar 28, 2012, 11:15 AM
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Every day in nature, avalanches both big and small occur, in areas so unreachable and remote that humans never see them. In the world of real-time publishing, avalanches of traffic, shares, links, and social signals also occur every day, both large and small in scope, but they have a highly beneficial impact on publishing efforts.  These opportunities for massive attention are largely being missed by content marketers, at least in the participatory publishing sense, and marketers need only open their eyes to see them.

Avalanches of traffic and link sharing start as a blip, and increase with great velocity until they take over an entire conversation, and become a focal point of discussion in conversations big and small.  As a conversation becomes bigger, your ability to extend your voice is directly proportional to your ability to act and publish with agility. Content velocity reaches a crescendo with spiking keyword searches, shares, and conversation -- and the spiking desire for this new audience to consume more content on the topic at hand.

A search and social avalanche can be beneficial to your overall publishing scheme by driving eyeballs, engagements, traffic, long-term links, and social signals toward search, but only astute marketers can capture this type of attention. Marketers must monitor real-time keyword trends, have large networks in key social spaces, and be highly fluid in publishing to achieve this kind of velocity. Even capturing a series of smaller rolling drifts can help your search and social presence, especially when the process is repeated consistently over long periods of time.

The good news is that a blog, combined with close trend monitoring in real-time keyword tools and social spaces, is one of the best ways to accomplish this goal. In effect, each blog post created in real time and based on a trending topic is like throwing a snowball to start an avalanche of traffic and links.

I have spoken about this phenomenon at a number of conferences and client strategy sessions over the last four years, and have even used this technique in this column over this time. In one case, a timely post on a spiking news story about Google’s rising dominance in its share of overall search market went from this column, to becoming shared in volume all over Twitter. It then hit the front page of Digg, and I watched and analyzed in real time as the traffic, comments, and velocity of shares went through the roof. In short, popularity lists and streams in certain networks trigger the cascading dissemination effect of networks to networks, or many-to-many.  In this scenario, content takes on an active and passive distribution life of its own (passive pushing through triggers and syndication; active by social sharing and viral resonance).  The long-term effects of that avalanche provided thousands of backlinks to MediaPost.com and a nice traffic surge. The good news is that this is something that business blogs big and small can also replicate.

Planned Real-Time Publishing

While my MediaPost example involves an example of a  topic for spiking interest within a 12-hour timeframe, the real opportunities exist for developing content in real time, or preparing for predictable seasonal real-time queries. During the 2012 Super Bowl, one company prepared content to coincide with spiking search and social interest around half-time performers, compiled best and worst lists, and published them on its blog. The result was worldwide attention in Twitter as a “Top Retweet,” which resulted in high content visibility for one of the most popular searches of the year.

Unplanned Real-Time Publishing

While the previous example allowed for content ramp-up based on seasonal and anticipated real-time queries, it’s the unpredictable real-time query avalanche that presents some of the greatest opportunities. Bloggers who are best able to take advantage of this concept are ready to publish in an agile manner, are monitoring conversation and trends in their respective keyword space in real-time, and have a sizeable network to turn that snowball into an avalanche of shares, links, and traffic back to their blog assets.

You Have To Throw a Lot of Snowballs to Start an Avalanche

I spoke with someone at a marketing conference who got caught up in a major positive news story related to one of his company’s services. For some unknown reason, something that happened every year in his business had become a major news story, and his blog was an indirect, but authoritative, source of the news. He had already created content around this trending topic, and he tweeted a link out to his followers, waiting for the rush of traffic.

But he missed the avalanche of traffic, links, and social signals that should have come his way due to a few mistakes. He missed using the natural keyword language that social audiences had assigned to the topic in real time. People were searching Google and Twitter for this story by a completely different name, and his content simply did not match the query according to those two engines.  He also did not have a big enough network to get the snowball rolling. A wider distribution network with the right keyword would have helped him own the story.

This marketer’s biggest issue was that he had not thrown enough snowballs. One time won’t cut it. In short, you have to throw a lot of snowballs over a long period of time to capture this kind of traffic, links, and social signals. Consistently publishing to a real-time audience shows people that you are present and participating in the conversation. It shows search engines that you provide fresh content, that social promotion is creating fresh signals that search engines like to see, and that you are an authoritative source for your theme -- a source that can be trusted to provide quality content in the search results, without them worrying that you’re trying to push spam into the index.

It’s fair to say that a lot of the high velocity content-sharing going on is in news and entertainment categories. But remember the statistic that Google provided in 2007:  between 20-25% of queries searched every day are new, and have never been seen before. Granted, many of these queries may include typos and variations of existing themes and terms. But the bottom line is that the natural language of your audience is constantly evolving in real time. Knowing your audience means knowing how they think, how they converse, and what language they use to find new information.

 Getting traffic doesn’t have to be a mass-media exercise every time. To the contrary, a balanced, present, persistent, and steady approach will get your blog where it needs to be -- if you catch my drift.

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