Martin Waxman

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Why Social Amplification Reminds Me of Shampoo

By: Martin Waxman | November 19, 2013 | 
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Social AmplificationBy Martin Waxman

I always learn a good deal from the reactions/social amplification I get on my Spin Sucks posts. (Thank you for your comments and for sharing.)

Last month, I wrote about things the PR world might expect to see in the next 10 years and it spurred a flurry of social activity and conversation in the first day or so and then the interest died down.

That’s to be expected based on the typical amplification model PR has used for years first with traditional media and now with social networks:

Publish -> Publicize -> Perish

A story captures our attention and then, after a short burst, the novelty is gone and we’re on to whatever comes next.

However, this time something else happened about two weeks after the post was first published. Cision tweeted about it, spawning a fresh series of retweets and shares and, all of a sudden, a story that seemingly had its day was treated to a second life.

Social Amplification: Getting on the Replay Web Playlist

This reminded me of an idea I’d read about in a New York Times article by Jenna Wortham.

The way we share, watch, read, and otherwise consume content doesn’t happen on a linear timeline. It loops in on itself. And even when major events unfold online and social media sites broadcast happenings minutes, or even hours, before major news organizations cotton on to them, the discussions and dissections that bubble up in the aftermath are the most interesting parts.

She calls this the “replay web.”

She goes on to say we no longer need to consume information in a synchronous manner. In fact, people are constantly finding and sharing to their networks on their own timeframes; that is they consider something to be new when they discover it and not when it was released.

So even though a story may have been around for a while and is old news for you, it’s fresh for a person who happens on it for the first time.

This turns the concept of new or news on its head. By adding a personal element, it’s transformed from objective to subjective.

So how can we, as marketers and communicators, create content that rides the wave of the replay web?

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

OK, I used to do a lot of PR for beauty companies and it dawned on me that the replay web pretty much follows the directions on a bottle of shampoo.

Here’s how:

Lather. Step one is building things up – in this case I’m referring to your content and community. You have to put a lot of energy and effort if you want to spread the foam (er…your story) around.

Rinse.  That’s when your story is out there in the world and out of your hands. You hope it means something, travels well, and gets passed along.

Repeat. This is when the replay web comes in and the story is reborn, so to speak. The question is: How do we find people who didn’t see it the first time around but may still be interested? Can we leverage posts from the proverbial archives that still apply today?

The replay web makes us think about how our content is used and diffused in different ways. If I can mix metaphors, it’s not simply one pitch and you’re done. You potentially have many times at bat.  One caution: do this strategically and make sure you’re relevant otherwise you risk becoming a spammer.

What’s been your experience with the replay web? Have your stories ever had a second or third life and how did that play out? We’d love to hear from you.

About Martin Waxman


Martin Waxman, MCM, APR, is CMO of Spin Sucks and runs a consultancy, Martin Waxman Communications. He leads digital and social media training workshops, conducts AI research, and is a Lynda.com and LinkedIn Learning author, and one of the hosts of the Inside PR podcast. Martin teaches social media at McMaster University, UToronto SCS and Seneca College and regularly speaks at conferences and events across North America. Find him on Twitter @martinwaxman.