You already know why you need social tactics and have found the platforms that will best suit your verticals, clients, and strategy. In other words, you’re ready for the big show: it’s time to actually go out and create those relationships with publishers so you can publish relevant, enticing content. You’ve prepared all you can and even taken batting practice.
It’s time to submit your roster and get out on the field for Opening Day!
Choosing Your Lineup
As the manager of your team, you first need to choose your lineup for game day. Obviously, you have your team. But you’re also missing a few key players who help you make things happen: publishers. Yes, they are on your team too. After all, who is placing your great content and links?
Selecting the rest of your game day roster depends upon who will have the most impact given the conditions, past performance and the opposing team’s lineup. In other words, they need to be people active on social media who are relevant to the vertical you are exploring, have published well-received content before, and who can inspire others to action. In other words: influencers.
Whoa, whoa- before you run out of the clubhouse at the slightest mention of what seems to be overused industry jargon, let me explain- and propose more palatable terms.
Social media is merely building on the already most effective version of marketing- word of mouth marketing. As stated earlier in this series, word of mouth marketing relies heavily upon those who can sway public opinion- so this idea of influencers is not new- but that does not mean it is not valuable. Traditional marketing still uses this principle- why else would Joe Mauer be trying to sell you shampoo?
Social has made influencers accessible to both consumers and companies, and as a result, influencers that much more capable of motivating that much larger audiences. You’d be crazy to write this axiom off as mere jargon. However, I did promise new terms – and these terms are not only not as clichéd as ‘influencer,’ but they more effectively describe the positions at the plate publishers play for you.
The two types of social media personalities you need to network with are contact hitters and power hitters. Contact hitters are players who rarely strike out. They can be counted on at the plate to make contact, and their main focus is just putting the ball into play. This means that although they hit fewer home runs than power hitters, they still contribute to scoring runs by batting runs in and getting on base. Your contact hitters are essential to your social strategy – they will not only place your content but also actively help you network with other publishers as well as be interested in having an active role in contributing to content tailoring as well as creation. They may not be the number one blog and top authority on the vertical you are outreaching in, but they are well-respected and have some authority amongst their peers. You can always count on them to help you out with whatever your needs are.
This doesn’t mean you don’t also want to network with those who have so much influence they seem inaccessible. Power hitters are batters who hit many home runs and extra base hits. Their batting average may not be as high as a contact hitter’s because their approach at the plate is “all or nothing.” For you and your team, these are those who have immense capabilities on social to stimulate desired actions but may not be as involved in the process. They may be the ones who only publish your content once a month (or less) or not even work with the site ‘owner’ directly, but due to their clout (or, for a bad social media pun: klout) at the plate, they will drive large amounts of traffic to as well as cultivate social signals for your content. Opportunities beyond content placement from power hitters are mainly derived as a byproduct of social endorsement, not necessarily a direct action.
Luckily for you, finding contact and power hitters is the same process. It will be up to you to decide who falls into which category when tailoring outreach (which I will discuss later in this post).
There are several different ways you can search for contact and power hitters. There is no “one size fits all” tool, and you must keep in mind that popularity alone does NOT indicate influence.
The easiest place to start looking is where relevant conversations are already occurring. This can be as simple as looking at the social profiles or pages of your client or relevant companies.
There are a couple of places to search for power and contact hitters on this page. The most obvious power hitter, in more ways than one, is Mike Trout. If Rawlings was your client, I would definitely be asking them which athletes have endorsed their equipment and asking if it were possible to get in touch to place content or have them share your content. Beyond celebrities, though, going through those who have ‘Liked’ the page or follow your client on twitter will unearth contact hitters and possibly a few power hitters who are already interested in what you have to say. They’re fans of your client and regularly as well as actively engage their large networks in conversations relevant to the vertical you are exploring.
There are also many, many other tools you can use to find and assess contact and power hitters. Here are a few I recommend as well as tips for use:
- Topsy – Using Topsy, you can search links, tweets, photos, videos, experts, and what is trending. It’s a very all-inclusive social search. It also has a tool that allows you to search more than one query to compare mentions as well as significance. Comparing the significance of terms can help you decide what topics are powerful in your vertical. For a fee, Topsy provides much more detailed social analytics.
- Followerwonk – This tool is a great way to search Twitter bios. You can narrow your search in many ways, including search by location and setting a minimum number of followers or tweets. You can also sort your results as well. Search for publishers easily by filling in a relevant term and “blog” or “blogger” to get an overall look at who is already creating content on your topic.
- Kurrently – Search real time through Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Try searching for “guest post” to find those who already accept guest posts or are looking for them.
- Twitter search – This might seem like a no-brainer, but many overlook Twitter advanced search. You can narrow search by location or even sentiment.
- Nearby tweets – Perfect for clients with location specifications, you can search tweets in a certain area. Try searching for just a “?” and answer questions relevant to your vertical to establish yourself as a contributor right away.
Obviously, there are a lot of tools that do the same kinds of searches. Find which fits your needs best and get to finding your contact and power hitters!
Once you find them, it may help to further analyze the topics, audience, and scope of these batters. There are a myriad of tools available, however there are two free tools that are more popular and each serve a purpose. DISCLAIMER: I am not saying that these tools are the end all to be all of assessment or accuracy. No assessment tool has proven itself accurate enough to stand on its own. However, these two can help you analyze and gain insight into those whom you wish to contact.
- Klout – Klout aggregates data from a user’s various social profiles to assign a score (1-100) of “influence.” Their algorithm for doing so was recently recalculated and seen by many as more accurate. They use over 400 signals for these networks, including retweets, recommendations, tips left on foursquare, and reshares. The new Klout score also factors in “real-world influence” by using signals from Wikipedia. Looking at Klout score can help you see what topics are most often discussed by a social media user as well as what others have given them +K (indicated expertise) in. You can also see what kind of user they are, whether or not Klout considers them a thought leader, and how active and engaged they are. It isn’t a perfect score, but Klout is continuing to weed out inauthentic users as well as update the score. Klout is a great indicator of popularity, engagement, and regard.
- PeerIndex – Like Klout, PeerIndex calculates a score based upon social activity and engagement. However, PeerIndex highlights an ‘audience’ score- letting you know how involved and receptive a social network user’s audience is. Resonance scores indicate how much impact a user’s messages have in the vertical or community they are speaking about or to. From calculating the percentage of authority and other scores a user has, PeerIndex then “normalizes” the score and assigns a number 1-100 to indicate ranking or position for the topics they have determined a user is most actively discussing. PeerIndex is also constantly innovating to make their scores more and more accurate. Whereas Klout’s score reflects popularity, PeerIndex does much more to reflect expertise of a user.
As stated before- there are other paid services and tools one can use to find and assess contact and power hitters. I’ve only scratched the surface – feel free to leave your own tips and tools in the comments on this post for others.
Now that you know who you want to talk to, let’s discuss how to talk to them.
Pitch Perfect Games
So far, we have discussed a lot of batting. But that isn’t all there is. Although you want to hit home runs, you can’t win without good pitching, no matter how much run support you have. It’s no surprise that pitching is the same term for both baseball as well as your outreach communication.
You already know the best way to communicate with them, but also make sure you are aware of the best times to speak with them or speak to the vertical you are going to write about. There have been many studies done on when is the best time to tweet. Also, using tools such as Hootsuite Autoscheduler or Buffer will make sure that your tweets go out when they will have the most impact- as in, when you’re more likely to make contact with whom you wish to talk to. Be careful with automation tools, though- you need to make sure that the majority of your posts, especially those intended to continue or be parts of conversation, are not automated. Also, resources like Google’s Newsmap aggregates news stories, showing when certain types of news is most popular in different parts of the world.
You can also participate in more direct ways to be part of the conversation. One way to do so is through Twitter chats. These chats are denoted by hashtags and happen at specific times on specific days. It’s a great way to network with others in relevant verticals and industries and stay on top of what’s trending in these spaces. You can also check the hashtag at off times to see who is discussing topics related to the chat so you can network with them.
Funnel the Ball
Catchers are often overlooked by casual baseball game observers. However, their position is the most dangerous (90+ mph pitches flying at them plus someone powerful swinging a large bat in front of their faces seems scary enough to me) as well as arguably the most physically and mentally demanding in baseball.
The catcher is also the one position involved with all of the positions on the field as well as communicates with the manager, who is off the field. They’re aware of everything that goes on and off the field and are expected to respond quickly and effectively. Catchers must receive, communicate, and block.
Once you’ve started outreach, you must think like a catcher. You have to see what bloggers are already asking for directly on their blog and respond to it potentially in a different mode of communication in a way that shows your own interest as well as qualifications to speak to the subject. Seems pretty difficult to do in 140 characters or less- but it isn’t, if you’re already tuned in.
By immersing yourself in what matters to those you are trying to influence or who you contact and power hitters already influence, you can speak to what matters for the most effectiveness. Some of this means looking at their blogs before first contact and using tools like What the Trend or Trendsmap to see what is currently important to those in the same space as the publisher you are contacting. Knowing what matters in the moment- since you are communicating in real-time- enables you to maintain relevancy as well as tailor outreach and content. Publishers will immediately give you credibility if you come off as familiar to what matters to them, and you can serve as an additional voice for fresh perspective on topics.
Pitchers well tell you that the ability of a catcher to block a ball is important. This instills confidence in pitchers because they will not have to worry about runners advancing on a potential wild pitch. Catchers will funnel the ball by positioning themselves in front of the ball, enabling them to draw it toward the center of their body. However, they also have to be able to move in any direction to catch any kind of pitch.
Like George Kottaras, your catchers will have to be versatile in the tones while attempting to keep the ball in the zone- maintaining focus. Social outreach styles must adapt in order to field any type of personality style. By doing your research on blogging style, background, level of engagement with readers and the industry, and knowing what topics are important to publishers, you will be able to add tone to outreach and content that emulates publishers as well as speak effectively to their readers. Obviously, a mommy blogger outreach tweet will not be the same as an outreach to a business publisher. You already know that the content would be different, so keep that mindset when doing outreach as well. Familiarity is the key to success with social outreach.
Avoid RISP Failures
Your season may not start off with a lot of wins- but not every at bat has to result in a home run. Keep in mind your contact hitters- these lasting relationships will set you up to score more runs and those seemingly elusive home runs in the future. Maintaining consistency as well as authenticity will be keys to success.
If you’re doing any kind of content strategy now, though, you might notice a trend. You’ve made contact with a publisher, they’re excited about you, you discuss and possibly even tailor content, and then you send it over to them. Then… no response. You have runners in scoring position, but you keep whiffing and are unable to capitalize.
Getting your posts actually published should be easier simply due to the fact that you are creating more personal connections with social. After all, it’s always more difficult to say no to someone face to face, and social is as close as you can get to face-to-face without knocking on the doors of publishers (which, although at times is appropriate, overall can get kind of creepy). However, there are times when you may have to pick up the phone to call a publisher to follow up. Maybe you need to stress the importance of them publishing by a certain time or date due to a project or newsletter you wish to include the post in- who doesn’t love free publicity? Maybe you need to already offer them follow-up content or introduce them to others in your network to expand their own in order to seal the deal.
In other words, you aren’t going to take no for an answer. Do whatever you can to follow up- publishers lead busy lives, but if they have engaged with you to start with, make sure you find out what is keeping them from posting your content. Many just give up on publishers due to the amount of content and connections they are expected to make- they don’t want to waste more time follow up. However, a follow up can prove to be more valuable than you may think, and the publisher will definitely hold you in a high regard for your tenacity. Just like Hank Aaron said- “My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was to keep swinging.” Keep swinging- and your team will be breaking home run records just like Hammerin’ Hank.
Keep the Hot Streak Going
Once you get a hot streak going, don’t stop- however, you still may need to adjust your outreach style. Due to the fact that social outreach relies heavily upon the personality of those doing the outreach as well as the publishers themselves, you must constantly adjust.
However, patterns of effective outreach will emerge. If you are tracking your social outreach efforts effectively, then you will be able to see what works best for your clients as well as team. Next week, I’ll tell you exactly how to keep the book on social strategy to track metrics, define wins, and implement changes.
Make sure to subscribe to the iAcquire blog so you won’t miss a single pitch!
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.
Find Your Social Sweet Spot – Choosing the right tools for discovering and contacting influencers, managing your social accounts, and tailoring your message