The Content-Sharing Problem

The rise of ubiquitous social networks has lead to a choice I often have to make: When I find something cool online, where do I share that content?

In the pre-MySpace days, when social networks weren’t really a “thing”, the decision was easy because there were only a small handful of choices: you instant messaged or emailed it to a few close friends, or if you were “that guy”, you forwarded it to everyone you knew. Fast-forward to today. If I find a cool link, I have all kinds of options:

  • Tweet it.
  • Share it in Google Reader.
  • Share it on Facebook.
  • Link to it on Yammer.
  • Post it on LinkedIn.
  • Send someone a private message through any of the above services.
  • Blog about it.
  • etc.

Which do I choose? If I only post the link in one place, I’m only reaching a subset of my total audience. But if I post the link in several places, I’m guaranteed to spam a few users multiple times. This dilemma is what I call the content-sharing problem.

My solution so far kind of sucks.

What I do right now is painstakingly case-by-case. If it’s particularly techie, it goes to one of the more techie networks: generally for something short and easy to digest, that’s Twitter, and for something longer, Google Reader. The idea here is that I want to match the content I’m sharing with other pieces in my friends’ feeds that are about the same length.

If it’s not techie at all, I’ll usually involve Facebook. Facebook is the venue that has the least overlap with any other network, and since I can post it on a specific friend’s wall, I can target that audience even more deftly. Since there’s unlikely to be much overlap, I’ll often share this again on Twitter or Google Reader, especially since they’re public and more persistent.

If it’s something work-oriented, that’s where LinkedIn and Yammer become more attractive. Unfortunately, these areas tend to have a huge divide in that many of my Twitter/Google Reader followers are also connections on LinkedIn/Yammer, and many are not. This is the most problematic situation, because I either don’t reach several people I care about or show a similar subset of people the same link twice.

I could go on, but you get the idea — it’s a mess. It’s case-by-case, and it’s probably NP-complete. It’s killing me.

Is there a better way?

So far, I can’t think of one. Even convincing everyone I know to follow me on one monolithic feed isn’t ideal, because with so many diverse people in one venue, my signal-to-noise would be different and probably pretty weak for each individual contact.

I’m grasping at straws here. Is there a technological solution to this that I could be using? Are there content-sharing etiquette rules that I should be aware of? Am I simply trying to be in too many places at once?

What do you do? I’m dying to know.

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