A good definition of the times that we live in is "the age of non-stop self-promotion," an age where everyone has something to tell, sell, share, promote, explain or present to the world. Social media platforms have helped fuel this.

The effect is information overload, which means that even passing a good message out becomes increasingly harder. This is especially the case for people who are creating content and want to share it.

Even with good content, it is extremely hard to reach many people.

When you are not an influencer

For established brands, they already have a loyal audience or public goodwill, as well as marketing teams that help promote and share content. People will readily share their content because they know them, not necessarily because it is superior to your content. Individuals with a large social media following, such as influencers, can also get their content to reach many people with just a few shares.

For those who do not have a known brand or a large social media following, can one still promote their content and ensure a growing reach?

One such way is to turn to existing relationships you have to help spread the word around. Friends and other social contacts can help to build a YouTube Channel, blog readers, or podcast audience.

Using personal networks to promote content

You can easily reach a large audience if you ask people you know to share your content with their circles. I tried this and found it effective.

Recently, I wrote an article on understanding domestic power consumption in Kenya. When I published and shared this post, it was viewed by 200 people in four days. That is within what I would expect.

I took a step further and decided to ask a few friends on WhatsApp to share the article with their contacts. By sharing it majorly on their WhatsApp status, the article received another 1500 views in the following 4 days, a number that keeps growing with time. I also got quite some engagements with people writing to me β€˜consult’ on how to manage their electrical power consumption.

I waited until the traffic curve had flattened, then asked a friend who has a huge following on Twitter to share the article with his audience. This resulted in a spike of another 1000 views within one day. Again, that was quite a thing in terms of traffic for such an article. (Informational content gets less attention compared to entertainment content. In one month, this article received about 4000 views. Compare this with one satirical article I wrote for Postamate about KQ being acquired by 2NK Sacco, and it received 50,000 views when shared in the same manner).

The social capital resulted to a large number of website visitors.

Personal networks are effective for content distribution

When you share some your content online, such as a YouTube video, most people who will be interested it are those who know you. They can associate with you; hence they will read or watch wat you have. The larger the network, the better.

This is what makes channels such as WhatsApp status and Facebook effective, people mostly connect with people they know. They also trust content coming from people they know, as opposed to finding random content online.

Making it sustainable

Unfortunately, it is not sustainable to ask friends to share your content all the time.

Once could be acceptable, twice understandable, but beyond that it can be a bother. How then can one ensure maximum impact for that one time?

"This is what makes channels such as WhatsApp status and Facebook effective, people mostly connect with people they know. They also trust content coming from people they know, as opposed to finding random content online." - Jacob Mugendi (Tweet this | Share this via WhatsApp)

One way is to work on building a community that one can reach easily.

If it is a YouTube channel or a newsletter, get people to subscribe so that they can easily be notified when content is published. It could be through email, WhatsApp, Telegram channel or any appropriate tool. You can also direct your visitors to follow your social media channels so that they can keep connected.

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