Wouldn’t it be great if someone could do your marketing for you and actually succeed? And what if they actually did it better than you and accomplished more? If you heard that a restaurant had amazing food by their chef or a friend of yours, who would be more impacting and trustworthy?
OK – so you get the point. Word of mouth marketing is extremely successful at driving business – in any industry. And probably the best channel for marketers to do so is social media. So are your social media efforts designed to identify and capture influencers and advocates for your brand?
Last week I wrote an article and in it I posed the question, what comes first – great content to drive followers or capture followers and then giving them awesome stuff. (What comes first, the chicken or the egg?) Well the reality is that you have to work both at the same time. And I think you have to have compelling content from the beginning – even if many do not see that content … the new audience can always come back to it.
But I guess we all recognize that you need to work both at the same time. And the best way to increase your audience is to have influencers and advocates helping you do so. Yes a handful of people may have a strong appreciation for you, but not all fans are equal. That’s the harsh reality. In social media, not all men (and women!) are created equal. The ideal scenario is that your advocates also have great social reach. Social reach is a quantification of one’s ability to have their content, comment, and posts consumed. There are many proprietary algorithms used by various companies and there is no perfect one. It is not just the number of friends, followers, and likes that goes into the quantification, but also other parameters like how often they are retweeted, reposted, mentioned, and referred to elsewhere. While social reach scoring will get better over time, it is not too early to use some tool to help you identify those with relative stronger social reach.
And it is not just about people either. There are a number of blogs, portals, forums, and other digital outlets that can serve to drive your brand attention and interest. What happens when an influential blogger runs a link back to your owned media or for that matter they produce some earned media about your brand? Good things happen. (See “Integrating Owned Media, Earned Media, and Paid Media”) Companies have always reached out to press, journalists, and analysts as part of their “influencer programs” as part of “traditional PR.” The evolution in digital space causes an opportunity for “digital PR and outreach” because there are a number of sites and communities that have significant influence. It doesn’t have to be The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. You can use QuantCast to help you determine how many people come to specific sites. There are also companies such as Vocus that have databases and services to help you determine influential journalists, bloggers, and media outlets.
But wait. Don’t just do it. If you want your outreach to influencers and advocates to pay dividends, you can not just push your content. Do you really think someone is just going to push your agenda? Why might they do that? Well, here are a couple ways to go about it…
Help Out Your Targeted Influencer
Anyone you are pitching to is going to say, “What’s in it for me?” They are not looking to help you out. They are looking for something that excites their audience. Does your content truly appeal to their audience? Can you give them something exclusive? If you deliver in these areas – you are helping them out and thus they are likely to help you. Create a win-win.
I always like this saying – “You can tell a real friend by their willingness to help you move or paint your house.” How many fall into that category for you? The relevance here is that the stronger the relationship you have with the influencer, the greater likelihood that they help you out. Connect. Engage. Build rapport. Truly build a friendship or strong professional bond first. You will see the advocacy come naturally.
Do the Right Thing – Luck Will Happen
Put this in the category of what Jeff Pulver refers to as the serendipist nature of social media or how Paulo Coelho believes in the world conspiring to bring you luck if you follow the right path as suggested in one of my favorite novels of all time, “The Alchemist.” If you do the right – that is to concentrate on truly delivering good information and content at the core – something good will happen. “Luck is the residue of design.”
I’ll share a personal story on this topic. In 2008, I started my adventures in social media working on my own start up. (Story for another time.) I started tweeting in 2008 (I think) and blogging in early 2009. Given my marketing background, I had strong opinions about how to drive success with social media and looked to refute the hype of ugly colors that social snake oil salesmen painted on the industry. I had a very small following, but my mission was to connect with people I could help – not build a huge empire. Then one day I started getting batches of people following me. I commented to my wife something was happening and I did not know where the stream of interest was stemming from. Finally, I googled my name and found that someone mentioned me in a list of ten people to follow in social media. This list consisted of about 8 well-recognized entities including Chris Brogan, Brian Solis, and Mashable and in there as well was me. The list was produced by Neicole Crepeau. I really did not know Neicole, but my content resonated with her and she felt others would value it as well.
And that folks was the start for me having a meaningful following. Yeah, no doubt, I always would have liked to connect with and touch more people, but my focus was really to just try to move social media in the right direction and evangelize best practice, concepts, and thoughts. And low and behold, Neicole became a great advocate for me and helped my presence grow. So long over due public thank you to Neicole!!! And by the way, I have continued to connect with Neicole and really built a relationship with her. I think she has amazing advice and thoughts in the social media space and you should definitely check her out!
(Neicole is a blogger at Coherent Social Media and the creator of CurateXpress, a content curation tool. She works at Coherent Interactive on social media, website design, mobile apps, & marketing. Connect with Neicole on Twitter at @neicolec.)
So what’s next? Give your influencer plan some thought and …
Make It Happen,