We’ve been talking about characteristics of network influence for content amplification (popularity vs betweenness). In a perfect world, your content strategy would be inextricably linked to your contacts in a way that reduced the friction of getting that content amplified by the right people.
In trying to think about what that would look like, a contact database or CRM (using that term loosely here) seems like the closest thing we have. But that falls way short.
You need to be able to answer questions like:
- Who would be most interested in my thinking on this topic?
- Who is a best fit to amplify (share, link to) this piece of content?
- Whose audience would benefit the most from it?
Network leverage for amplifying content the way the big boys do it looks like a brute force attack – scraping lots of websites that rank for adjacent topics into an outreach tool like PitchBox and then coming up with creative ways of getting webmasters, authors, editors to include links to your content. Basically throwing things at walls and flexing.
Larger orgs have deep benches and so can afford the inefficiencies of low return rates on link placements. It’s a volume game and they have other tricks to get those links placed when it’d be otherwise too hard. eg. buying them, trading product, ego baiting, using a connected PR rep, offering exclusive content, sharing research findings, or promising some other form of currency exchange.
You, on the other hand, are a person – you don’t get to do big impersonal things, there is no bench, let alone a deep bench of junior resources with outreach quotas getting links for you.
But you do have your network, you’re not interested in fly by night campaigns, you want sustained growth and real impact. So you don’t need a link from someone, you need a relationship that will earn you countless links, shares, and good will over time.
The way you will most efficiently amplify your content is by growing that network in the direction of those that care about the value of content created under the pressure of your underlying expertise.
The type of content, that when exposed, you cannot not share.
The way you will grow that network in a direction that makes sense for amplifying your content is two ways, the first is a top down approach:
Top down approach to network analysis for content amplification
- identifying amplifiers, the content influencers in and around your subject matter areas that you would want a relationship with – this deserves its own post, you likely have never set up a listening engine feed, and you don’t subscribe to the industry newsletters you’d want to be featured in, etc..
- doing the work to analyze network paths between you and them – e.g. getting smart about who the go-betweens are that you are already associated with and having a plan for crossing that bridge
- when you can’t find existing bridges, building your own by going directly to the source amplifiers
Bottom up approach
And the second is a bottom up approach, starting with analyzing your own network.
Unless you’re a total G, your gut reaction might be that your network isn’t that big. And yet you’re likely connected to every amplifier in your corner of the world by three degrees or less.
I know you don’t do this. You might think it means exporting your contacts from social sites, ordering and label them by strength of ties, and start reconnecting with those you’ve lost touch with, one by one.
And you’d be right. You can’t reconnect with someone, catch up, without also becoming more top of mind, or without having the conversation naturally touch on what you’re up to these days, and often, they know someone you’d want to know.
But it’s more than that. There are other ways to 80/20 it.
Most of you could double the number of valuable inbound links over the next year simply by thanking and establishing a more meaningful relationship with those that already linked to or share your content.
But you never look at your link profile. Or if you do take a CSV export, you see it as a spreadsheet, columns and rows with lots of weird metrics that mean very little to you.
Meanwhile those links represent who you are in a measurable, trackable way.
A parent might say, “show me your closest friends and I’ll show you who you are.”
Google would say, “show me your most common, identifiable connections on the web, and I will show you how legit you are, how liked your content is, and how influential your work is in the landscape of the web, and I will also instantly compare it to the myriad alternative pieces of content available, and with all that rich context, show you who you are.”
To see the people most likely to link to you or mentions/shares on social, to look past the spreadsheet of exported backlinks in AHREFs, or referral sources in GA and GSC, and really see those people, is such a better first step to increasing the value of your network than anything else you could do, and the friction should be non-existent when you are simply starting by reaching out to thank and recognize those people.
The easiest accurate predictions we can make are the ones that we base on past behavior. And if you can’t see the behaviors of those who already link and share, you cannot thank and strengthen those ties.
For both approaches, lots of “little” things would ideally be in order – your profiles should reflect your positioning, your positioning should trigger that rolodex moment when you have those conversations, so they know someone who would be worth connecting you to, they have to want to connect you, which means you need to pass the sniff test. Once you get to that new introduction, your content needs to be good enough, that is relevant, deeply thought through, and pass muster for types of things influential amplifiers share.
And yet, you also don’t really need all those things to be in order to get started making new friends and strengthening ties with old ones.