One of the Holy Grails of social media is to become a trending topic on one of the major platforms, such as Twitter or Google. So I was intrigued a few weeks ago when Thunderclap was rolled out to great fanfare.

Thunderclap hopes to help social media users take their content viral by automating the re-posting process. (THUNDERCLAP SCREENSHOT)

Let’s say you are in business and want to tell your followers on Twitter about a new product. So you post a press release on your website and on Facebook, then you tweet a brief message with a URL.

Once that original tweet leaves your computer or tablet, your followers can then decide whether to re-tweet it to their own networks. One would think there is a decent chance for followers to support your message by hitting a re-tweet button – a simple enough task, but not always done.

So by this process, tweets are often read but subsequently sit idly in the queue until they are either re-tweeted or shoved aside by the posts from other entities. The process is not a slam-dunk.

This poses a potential glitch in your marketing and message chain: The strength of your social media marketing really depends on these re-tweets, and there is no guarantee that you will get them.

Thunderclap has found a way to automate this process and remove the uncertainly associated with the re-tweet. All that is required is for your network of followers to register with Thunderclap and give their consent to re-tweet on your behalf.

Of course, there are some barriers to entry. After a message is sent, it must pick up 500 supporters within seven days in order to “crowdspeak,” but this shouldn’t be a problem so long as you enter the Thunderclap system with 500 or more followers.

There’s also a great deal of controversy surrounding the platform. Twitter acutally shut down Thunderclap, allegedly because it competed with Twitter’s own set of paid offerings for business.

Undaunted, Thunderclap set out to duplicate the process on Facebook. It went live on June 20 with a posting for Human Rights Watch concerning Saudi Arabia and its decision to prohibit women from competing in the London Olympics.

Some would attempt to quash Thunderclap because it resembles spam, but that’s simply a false accusation. Everyone in the Thunderclap universe is there by consent.

It is not hard to see how a message could be distributed incrementally, picking up thousands or even tens of thousands repeats within a matter of seconds. This is, of course, the perfect way to create trending topics.

Right now, the service is most useful for non-profits and humanitarian causes to quickly and efficiently distribute messages and to gauge the size and reach of its membership at the same time.

But as a business marketing tool, it could eventually prove invaluable – if it survives.

Clearly, we need to see Facebook’s response to Thunderclap’s intrusion on its insular ecosystem — time will tell. Meanwhile, you can check out the Thunderclap website and assess its potential for your business.

I would also recommend that you push to get 500 supporters on Twitter and Facebook. Just in case.

Eric Yaverbaum is associate publisher at Tweeting & Business Magazine in New York. Follow Eric and On Small Business on Twitter.

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