4 tips for using Thunderclap well

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Thunderclap advertises itself as a tool which “amplifies your message with the power of the crowd”. Or, in less dramatic language, it’s a tool that lets you get supporters to sign up to all share a message on social media at the same time.

The idea is that you set a date in the future on which you would like people to share an example message. Supporters sign up with whatever combination of Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter that they wish. Then at the pre-determined moment, Thunderlcap sends the message automatically from their signed-up accounts.

The idea of getting people to sign up in advance for an action which then happens automatically is a good one – it makes it easier to get people to sign up to act as you’ve got an extended period in which to do this, and with the action then automatic people don’t have to remember to take further action.

However, it is a tool which is also easy to use badly so here are four tips for making the most of it.

1. Only use it when noise is what you’re after

Getting lots of people to post a message at the same time generates noise, but is noise what you need? Sometimes yes, it is – to attract attention or to motivate people. But often no, it isn’t – because social media noise rarely leads to direct follow-up actions.

2. Only get a diverse range of people signing up to use Twitter

The worst examples of using Thunderclap are when a tight-knit community where most people follow each other signs up to share a message on Twitter. What happens then is simply that community’s timelines are filled up with repeated messages from each other at the appointed time. It’s like getting a wave of spam emails from lots of your friends all at the same time.

For it to work well, you need the Twitter participants to have only a limited overlap in their lists of followers. That way the message goes out widely rather than repeatedly hitting a small number of people.

3. Push Facebook heavily

When it comes to avoid the problem with Twitter on Facebook, the newsfeed algorithm is your friend. It’s smart enough to know that people don’t like repeatedly seeing the same message from different friends. So if you get supporters to sign up to use Facebook it comes with much lower risks than on Twitter. Yet Thunderclap campaigns are often written and promoted in ways that prioritise Twitter. That is usually a mistake.

4. Play to Tumblr’s search engine optimisation (SEO) benefits

Usually the neglected third option for participating in Thunderclap, Tumblr certainly has a much smaller audience than either Facebook or Twitter. However, it comes with one very useful edge – links shared on Tumblr are not tagged ‘nofollow’, which means they give the content they link through to much greater search engine optimisation benefits than links shared on Facebook or Twitter.

When creating the example message for people to share on Tumblr therefore, you can play to this strength and include a link through to content you want to give an SEO boost to. Done well, this is a great way of earning a large number of new links in a short period of time.

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