Product Promotion

How To ‘Seed’ Information

Talkers are the ones most likely to generate conversation. For your ‘thing’ to become mainstream in your niche, they need to be aware of it. The best way to do this is sneezing.

According to ‘Anatomy of a Buzz’,

Seeding is when you give people in multiple clusters direct experience with the product in order to stimulate simultaneous discussion in multiple networks and accelerate the regular adoption process.

Yeah. Lots of big words.

Basically, it’s like high end designers letting celebrities have their clothes for free. Everyone sees it and will start talking about it. They didn’t have to wait for the advertising campaign so they want it now. There is demand, baby.

They’ll give this to different types of people, because they know that people have different tastes and hang out in different communities. Then BANG! The product is hot.

That, my friends, is seeding.

With celebrities, the PR guys mostly care about visibility. Someone just has to be photographed with the product. Online, it is different. It is complex and intrinsic and so much more difficult. Everyone is visible, and social, and a potential talker. How do you know who to seed to?

You could hire someone who does this for a living. Or, you could just read on.

The First Step

You won’t even HAVE to seed your idea if your thing is awesome. You know how I market my list posts? I don’t. I wait for the people on the list to realize they are on it and share it with their respective communities.

This isn’t replicable in most cases. I featured people who, do to the nature of their work, fitted the classic talker profiles. Of course they’d share it. Your work may not have the same level of viral-ness.

So. First step. Increase the awesome factor.

This doesn’t mean you have to add glitter and shiny things. It means you have to add something that will compel people to comment on it. It could be:

  • A bonus thingmabob or a surprise. This works for articles, surveys, whatever. It says ‘We know we took up your time so here, have a cookie’

  • Something funny.

How the sneezers can help you

Trust. They have it, you need it. Here’s the catch: You can’t buy trust. You can buy conversation, but trust is intangible.

Seeding creates a situation where they decide whether or not they want to lend their trust to your stuff. You may get turned down but you only need a few savvy talkers to help you.

Who should I target?

You need the trust. They have the trust. But how do you find the people you want to trust with talking honestly about your thing?

I rely on intuition to tell me who to seed to. I’ll see potential and I’ll just go for it. Sometimes it pays off. Sometimes it doesn’t. Here are the patterns I have noticed:


Influentials are so busy acting influential that they often aren’t power users of products. They try a product for a short period of time, pronounce judgment, and then move on to the next shiny new thing.

Nobodies aren’t similarly distracted. They have to use products for in their job, so they understand what’s needed and what’s good (or bad.)

via Enchantment.

Nobodies can have massive power and are worth paying attention to. But nobodies can just as easily take you for a ride.

How do I know if the ‘nobody’ is worth seeding to?

There are a lot of users and scammers out there. Here is how I tell if the person is worth it:

  • I do a basic Google search. If all the high ranking stuff is extremely relevant and complimentary, I get suss. I wonder if they’ve applied SEO tactics to make themselves look better rather than relying on genuine conversation

  • I monitor the conversation on twitter. I can usually see patterns that give me an insight to their talking style

  • I look at how they talk about stuff they like, and don’t like. I favor those that are fair rather than full of hype

Basically, I look at their overall online presence to get a feel for their personality. However this is only one factor of my decision. The other is their potential.

Some nobodies have the potential to become somebodies – no matter how small. I look for a desire to grow, and to succeed, because I know that the person has the drive to implement the product. This doesn’t just apply to marketing ones.

Some, like me, may have this irrational goal to grow random types of apple trees in a suburban backyard. Some may want to do hikes that last for months.

Ultimately, the motivation to take action is what makes the nobody worth seeding to.


In Anatomy of a Buzz, Emanuel Rosen spoke about two different kinds of ‘hub’ – people who talk more than average about a particular product category. There was:

  • Social – those who talk more because they know more people.

  • Expert – those who talk more because they know more about something.

The Expert:

Here we’re talking about the authority bloggers. A lot of you are accumulating a lot of authority so you’d get that they have more responsibilities and less time.

They are awesome because their opinions carry a lot more weight. If they approve of something, then their audience feels assured it is of a certain standard. They also have less time to filter the information to ascertain is it’s worth recommending.

I would seed them, but place just as much emphasis on the gatekeeper. They talk to peers, but they also talk to authorities. If it’s awesome, the authorities will also share it. It is the best way to access both kinds of hubs. I think they are an untapped audience.

The Social:

Go for the social over the expert. They are an information broker between multiple clusters of people. Look at me. I was able to talk launch principles and distribute the information in under-monetized industries such as craft.

To find a social hub, you just have to look for people that fit more than one of the talker profiles – especially the cheerleader.

Conference attendees

You meet all kinds of awesome people at conferences. I have an easy rule. If we form a bond, and they are unfamiliar with my work then I’ll seed a product. Most people are overwhelmed by all the people they meet, and it can take a lot of effort to follow up.

If you follow up and give them a paid product, you are showing that you trust them. You are giving them something that represents your business. They can make a quick decision of whether your product fits with their work. Even if it doesn’t align with their work, they may recommend you to others.

How to increase the chance of people reacting to the seeding:

Using shock and awe

In the Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk introduced the concept of RCV, or relationship context value.

A few one-time expenses can pay off in a lifetime of loyalty from the people who are touched by the company’s generosity.

It’s a shock and awe tactic but it creates a chemical reaction. “Oh, we didn’t expect this. That was nice. Let’s talk about it!”

A great time to leverage this is after a conference. You’ve made tentative connections and people have made notes to research you properly later. You can make it easier on them by sending a copy of your flagship product – the one that has defined your career.

This means that the second thing they see (the first being you) is the thing that you are known for.

Look for those with listening posts

Most people have generic listening posts. They encourage you to interact on twitter, facebook and via the contact form and assume that will let them stay ahead.

The truly savvy people are creating custom listening posts. Doing this will allow you to become closer to your audiences needs and make you look authoritive.

Continuing the relationship

Sometimes the person you seed to will really enjoy the product and want to touch base.

Do it. Offer for them to email you if they want background information or want to know more about upcoming stuff. Treat them like a VIP press member.

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