(Editor’s note: This was first posted on the Vest Advertising blog. It’s reposted here with permission of the author.)
By Susan Gosselin, Vest Advertising
With most companies participating in 10 to 20 social media channels on average, some days you just feel like turning off the daggone firehose.
Honestly, who could possibly read all this?
Who would even want to?
That’s why a recent study cited in Forbes really got me thinking.
In it, they looked at the top 100 influencers in social media and the bottom 100 and determined there wasn’t much difference in their content. What was different is who they were connected to, and what they did with their time on social media.
Maybe. But it’s just more evidence that standing out in the social sphere takes work, time, and careful cultivation. Here’s my advice.
It’s a bit difficult wrestling with the idea that content isn’t king anymore, but it does makes sense. There are a lot of people out there in a lot of channels, and despite protestations to the contrary, most of them have figured out not to tweet what they had for lunch. In fact, you could even argue that there’s a bit of an arms race to see who can post the most industry relevant stories first.
So if you want to succeed at it, start by doing what the top influencers are doing. Get into as many channels as you can stomach … that includes LinkedIN groups and Twitter hashtags relevant to your industry, Google+, Facebook, YouTube, Digg/Delicious, Soundcloud, Slideshare as well as online forums around your industry.
Get a scheduling tool like Sendible or Hootsuite (I use one for posting and one for listening) to help you schedule at optimal times of the day, based on the channel. Remember – Tweet about 6 times a day, near the end of the day. Facebook around 5 p.m. or on the weekends. Google+ all the time. Update your LinkedIN status about once a day, or a least a couple times a week.
Mine the data from your top corporate influencers. This is a little unorthodox, and you’ll need permissions all the way around. But you have a gold mine of audience building right under your nose with LinkedIN. Who are the top sales and influencers in your organization – your CEO? Your chief of sales? Did you know that they can easily export their contacts out of LinkedIN into a lovely little CSV file? You ask your leaders for their lists edited down for relevance, and then add them to an email newsletter list. Don’t forget to start the email with an opt-in page, just to make sure that the people on the list don’t feel abused by your advances. Pepper that email with social sharing buttons or even a contest to encourage them to follow your business in other social channels or sign up for the RSS feed.
Find the top influencers in your industry and engage with them. Use a service like Twellow, or a good old-fashioned online search to find the people who are the most popular in the subjects that matter to your audience. Then start following them daily. When their posts interest you, retweet and repost, assuming you aren’t directly competing with them. Comment on their posts when you have something relevant to say. Be encouraging. Get a repartee going. Show them links to things you think amplify their discussion. Get them to follow you back or connect to you. When you’ve gotten their respect, they’ll start retweeting you and linking out to your material. And that’s golden. Because the difference between the haves and the have nots in social media is the influence of the people in their network.
Mine those hashtags. The people who are out there actively sharing on Twitter hashtags are generally the people worth paying attention to on social media. So find the hashtags relevant to your industry, look to see who’s following those hashtags, and follow them yourself, after taking a quick look at their profiles to make sure they’re appropriate. Don’t bother with the people who put up junk posts or who have a really low edgerank/Klout score. In other words, do your homework. After about a week, unfollow the people that haven’t followed you back. If they’re a great influencer and you enjoy their content, keep them regardless.
Cross reference your channels. Send messages to your followers in any one channel, reminding them that you can also be followed in other channels. In an ideal world, that might be connected to a charitable promotion, or a giveaway of a white paper or discount as an incentive.
Produce original content. This is why you shouldn’t abandon your blog. This is the place where you can comment on the news of the day, offer insights and demonstrate your expertise. It’s a longer-format way to let people get to know your thought level and what’s important to you. The top influencers aren’t just parrots repeating what other people say. They are offering more light than heat on the subjects that matter to their audience.
People who have gigantic audiences in social media have generally written books, blog at least a couple times a week, speak often at conferences, cross promote relentlessly, and generally think of themselves as an individual news making operation.
Not everyone can be Robert Scoble. But you can build your audience organically, with the right people, using quality content, with an investment of time that is reasonable for you.
You just have to start.
About Susan Gosselin: Susan Gosselin is director of public relations for Vest Advertising.
About Vest Advertising Marketing and Public Relations: Vest Advertising, founded in 1991, is based at 3007 Sprowl Rd. in Jeffersontown. Clients include Humana Inc., Appalachian Regional Healthcare System and Jasper Group Brands.