Friends Of Friends and TimeToday's post is a follow on to SEO and Data Got A Thing Going On. Sitting in a meeting today I realized something. My job is to create content that moves across time via generations charting unknown territory. When my friends share content with their friends it is two generations removed from me and it is being read by the first generation of people I don’t know and who don’t know me.
There is a beautiful logic bomb inside this realization. As content moves out creating supporters, contributors and readers it is living in space and CREATING time. Each generation of shares recreates the content’s timeline and resets the content’s reach. This is the six degrees of separation thing with a twist.
Six degrees is on view all the time now thanks to the social web. Facebook and LinkedIn are living demonstrations of how we are all within a stone’s throw of each other. The practical expression of six degrees is the 6/19 degrees of content.
19 Degrees Of Content SeparationLinked author Barabasi discovered that any piece of web content is only 19 degrees separated from any other:
They estimated the size of the publicly indexable Web to be around 800 million nodes at the end of 1998. Thus our expression predicted that the diameter of the Web was 18.59, close to 19. As Guare might say: nineteen degrees of separation. While surfing might give you a different impression, in reality the Web is a small world. Any document is on average only nineteen clicks away from any other.There is a hidden implication. If your content is connected to all other content by 19 links of separation and each generation of social share creates a new time dimension for your content then content moves across time via shares.
May be easiest to understand from the negative. If you write a Google document that is published, has a URL but never shared its generations is 1 (you) and time remains the last time the document was edited or when it was published.
If you publish a Google document and share it with five friends. The content now has 2 generations of time (you) and (them) where “them” is the 5 shares. Those five shares will come in and view the content at different times, but generational content isn’t about linear time. Generational content says the content was used by 2 generations (YOU) and (THEM).
The content’s “life” now has two generational dimensions. If 1 of the 5 people who received the content shares it with 5 friends they create the 3rd content share generation: (You) to (Them) to (Friends of Friends). Each generation can eclipse all other generations. Content is moving forward carried by loose connections, creating time, making friends and influencing people.
Practical Implications 19 Degrees of Content SeparationThere are a few important considerations to move your content on its 19 degrees journey faster including:
- Writing strategic links into your content.
- Link to authorities (gurus).
- Link to gurus+1 (1st generation of links from a guru, who they link to).
- Link to tent pole content (content that gurus link to).
- Link to content tent pole content links to.
- Build navigational taxonomy that reinforces content silos.
Avoiding generic navigation such as “services” helps create a shareable content silo. Even if you write amazing copy a page with a generic title such as “services” won’t create as many shares as the same page labeled with a keyword.
This brings up a critical idea. There is no page on any website that isn’t trying to generate shares and so live over time via (x) generations where (x) is as many as you can get (lol). Great navigational taxonomy helps find, collect and connect (x) generation of shares.
Fine Art of LinkageHate to tell you this but linking needs to be as strategic and well thought out as your overall content strategy. Who you link to, with what content, how often and to what results may be the most important never thought of piece of content strategy.
Think about it. If I mention Seth Godin I could link to my post about working with him, link to his blog, link to one of his books on Amazon or link to another blog discussing Seth. Each of these links has different strategies such as:
- Link to my Working With Seth Godin post – reinforces SEO via internal linking and may pick up new readership and social shares.
- Link to Amazon – earn affiliate money.
- Link to Seth – reinforce authority.
- Link to other blogger about Seth – reinforce authority and gain backlink.
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Now's the Time, 1985 on top of page.