I believe that copy and paste is the best Social Media (or cut and paste) tool that is available today. The simple act of a few key strokes can generate more viewsactionsclicks that just about any other method or distribution strategy. (I knew someone had come to this realization before me and with a quick search I found it at Broadcasting Brain – if there are more let me know!)

Fred talked about the power of passed links in a recent post and it was the catalyst to this thinking.

As people and companies hype the latest “Social Media” tools and websites, they forget that the most important action or referral comes from someone you know – and online that comes in the form of a link that has been cut and pasted into an email, an IM, passed via Twitter, or included in a document.

There are certainly ways of looking at this fundamental behavior of passing links around and wrapping them up for better accountability.

One of the tools I use regularly for just about every link I cut and paste around it Bit.ly which allows ATLAS and DART like tracking – without all the fuss and its free. Simply cut and paste your url into Bit.ly and you can easily track information about how many people clicked on it, how it was passed, and most importantly figure out what systems your link now exists on. (I am staying out of the debate on url shortners for now.)

I digress to my main point, the method of cut and pasting your content is happening by your potential viewers, customers, and users – even by the person seeding your content into networks. This means that you need to make things easily shareable. I am not saying the latest widget company cannot help in this process, but I am saying that the ultimate real value comes from people sharing with each other. On the web that happens when people share links together – via cutting and pasting them around the web.

It took a few years, but Google Reader now has the ability to automatically email your friends from within the Reader “sharing” the post you are reading with them. This is a direct result of a behavior that was happening (outside the GReader experience) of people opening links in another tab, copying the url, opening up an email client, pasting in the link, and then sending it off. The solution to this problem came in the form of a built in system (note: not behavior change) by Google Reader. To me, that is a powerful observation and reaction.

Conclusion:
Think about how and why you are sharing links, and as you prepare to “seed” networks think about how people can further share this data with each other. As buzz words and tactics come and go, its important to pay attention to the behaviors that never change. Cut and Paste has been around for quite awhile, and when the dust settles on the latest “tool to get content viral” I think we will still be using the original 4 viral keystrokes of copy and paste.

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