Grab your baseball glove and some sunscreen, because you’re headed to spring training next on your journey to social media outreach for link building mastery.
After a long offseason, baseball players report to spring training to try out for roster spots, settle into their positions on the team- which may even be a new team- and are able to hone their skills in real in-game experience.
Your team has definitely had an extended offseason, and they are settling into new roles with the strategy transformations you are implementing – after all, when was the last time you made an innovative, dramatic change to your outreach tactics?
Your MVPs, who, thanks to you, now understand the importance of social outreach. They have signed up for social networks and are ready to swing for the fences!
Easy there- Even Ryan Braun, the current National League MVP, didn’t just waltz in opening day at Miller Park, pick up a baseball bat and start hitting home runs. He became the NL home run leader the same way anyone excels at anything: practice.
Heavy hitters choose their tools wisely and make sure to practice with them. Getting a feel for equipment is advantageous for many reasons, one of which is incredibly basic: due to the physics of its construction, a baseball bat will rebound when hit with a ball. If the ball is too close to the end of the bat, the bat will move forward out of a player’s hands. If the ball hits closer to the handle of the bat, the bat will move back, causing a player to lose control of his or her swing. The sweet spot is where the shock of impact of a baseball is reduced so much that a ballplayer’s hands are not only not jarred, but also the batter can’t even feel the impact of the collision. This enables him or her to have control to powerfully produce the desired results at impact – a hit.
When at bat with social outreach, you will not be able to necessarily control the pitching (in this case, the actions and natures of publishers whom you are trying to create relationships with). However, you can find the right combination of factors to produce the maximum results with the right amount of effort: your social sweet spot.
You are building a social media outreach strategy to produce wins, not just idly swinging at whiffle balls in your parents’ backyard. This is the big show: you must familiarize yourself and your team with the right territory, tools and tone to achieve maximum results.
Chalk the Baselines
First, you must outline your verticals and segment your team’s social profiles according to interest. You may have already done this for e-mail outreach to help you choose the right types of blogs for client-relevant content. If not, these are the general broad topics that are relevant to clients. Your team should be separated by interest in aspects of these verticals, although some team members may outreach and create content for more than one vertical, genuine interest will facilitate relationship creation. Plus- it’s simply easier to start a conversation about something you are familiar with!
Before you even decide on platforms for outreach, find popular niche social or blogging networks that your team can right away build profiles on. This will enable them to be tuned in to trends that matter to content creators in these verticals, as well as build credibility. You may be surprised – members of your team may already be active on several networks already outside of work.
How do you find these networks? Well, many have tried to compile lists upon lists, but haven’t captured all – or even most – of these networks. A good old footprint search should bring up some viable options. Don’t waste too much time worrying about picking the “right” network – as long as it looks reputable, regularly updated, and other members seem to post good content, go ahead and sign up. Once you learn how to find and contact influencers in the next post, Load the Bases, you may want to create profiles on different networks anyway.
Beyond being a frame of reference, creating content on these niche networks can serve as a portfolio of published work when doing outreach. Publishers can see that you’re already creating well-received content in their vertical- which will make you more valuable to them. An additional value is that what you do publish on these networks you can share on your other accounts to gain readership and strengthen social signals by increasing audience size. Even greater bonus: sometimes publishers on these networks will approach you to create content for them due to what they’ve seen you produce.
Put on Your Batting Helmet, Not a Snapback
It’s always 90 feet between each base on a diamond, but before you even set foot to play a game, there are millions of other factors that vary- and which you can use to your advantage.
It is one thing to have a little fun on a road trip travel day, but even Mets team member Ike Davis knows better than to try to play first base in a bolo tie and boots. In fact, just like any MLB player, he’s probably particular about the glove he uses, the size of bat he uses, what brand of batting gloves he uses, the size and fit of his cleats, his jersey size… You get the point.
Social networks are not one size fits all. Just as Ike Davis knows to wear a batting helmet at the plate instead of a cowboy hat, you need to choose the appropriate platform(s) per verticals to approach publishers. Methods within these platforms may vary from publisher to publisher, but you don’t want to waste your time developing strategy for the millions of social networks that exist or overlook a network that may be best. Yes, there are the big three (Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook), but they are not the only three- and may not even be best.
You’ve already found and created profiles on niche networks, and you will discover more as your team improves their outreach tactics and strategies. But which networks should you focus on and build your outreach strategy around? Here are some questions you must ask yourself or your client before choosing the social networks that will serve as the foundation for your outreach strategy:
- Who is your audience? This is not as simple as you may think. Take the time to conduct market research of your verticals – you can get incredibly detailed information, down to what websites they spend the most time on. Build the personas of the audience you want to influence based upon your research. Also, there are several published studies on the demographics of social networks. Do not overlook these- we often make assumptions about social network population due to personal experience, however these studies provide a more accurate big picture view.
- Where is your client most active socially? Your client may or may not have done their research, but if they have social profiles then they are at least trying to cultivate an audience. This audience already is brand advocates who have interest in topics relevant to your client- and you can use that to your advantage. You can build social reputation as well as make contact much sooner with this group. You can even use tools to further analyze or sort through an audience, like Simply Measured’s free Twitter report that exports followers to Excel.
- How efficient is this mode of communication? You do not want to waste time filling out long forms or even necessarily waiting for someone to ‘add’ you to begin a relationship- otherwise you would have stayed with e-mail outreach. You do not necessarily want to have to jump through hoops to begin a conversation. This is sometimes why Facebook is not a great social outreach for link building tool, as some profiles require you to be friends before you can even message them. However, if the publisher has a Facebook page for their blog that is appropriate to comment on, then it might be the right medium.
- What are your audience as well as potential publisher relationships’ intent on the network? Know the purpose of the network as it applies to those whom you are contacting and sharing with. You personally use different networks for separate purposes, so make sure you understand in what capacity publishers operate on a network- it may not be the same as what you do personally.
Get on the Bus
I’ll let you in on a little not-so-secret tip: Every baseball player knows that the sweet spot on a bat usually is 5-7 inches from the end of the barrel.
Here’s another not-so-secret tip: Twitter will most likely be your strongest (but not only) ally in social outreach for building relationships with publishers.
Yet why can’t every batter hit a home run? Why isn’t every SEO implementing and finding inordinate amounts of success with social media outreach?
It’s the same answer for both: technique.
Outlining your verticals, creating online presence with niche networks, and ensuring that you are using the right networks for the right reasons will add efficiency, authenticity and clarity to your strategy.
How do I know this process works? Because I’ve done it – and had immense success with it.
Practice is over- it’s time to see if you can apply the fundamentals to recognize pitches you can blast out of the ballpark.
Next week, I’ll set you up for a social outreach for link building walk-off grand slam. To load the bases for you, I’ll give you the tools to find influencers, tips for creating conversations that result in links, and tell you how to avoid RISP failures.
Make sure to subscribe to the blog via RSS or e-mail so you won’t miss a single pitch!
Load the Bases – Finding influencers, setting yourself up to score runs and relationships, avoiding RISP failures
Keep “The Book” on Your Social Strategy – Scoring your social strategy, defining social “wins,” metrics for measuring success, and implementing strategy changes
Be Mr. October Year Round – Building upon relationships you have created, the future of social strategy, how to stay ahead of the game
Top of the Batting Order:
Get Off the Schneid – Stop what you’re doing: it’s wrong, and here’s why you’re losing and how social strategy can turn your season around.