Last year, I started a new project. As always, it’s self-funded, which motivates me to be very creative in terms of how I am promoting it. It also officially has nothing to do with Google rankings: I am not targeting any keywords and I am not thinking about Google at all when building it. I have to look for other ways to generate traffic and subscribers.
Having very little budget for any other kind of promotion, direct engagement is my primary means of growth in the beginning stage. As we continue building the site and content, I have begun making connections with active bloggers in various niches.
The results have been incredible. Some of the biggest names in the industry have been blogging about us. It is building the hype and gaining us followers before we are even out of the alpha stage.
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All of this has happened within less than 6 months! The secret of growth, which I had sought to find when I first began, turned out wasn’t really a secret at all. It was as simple as making connections with bloggers and more importantly, doing that primarily through Twitter because that’s my most effective outreach tool (It’s instant, hence time-saving, and very efficient thanks to my already built following there).
This is still a rather new (and growing) success, but here are some important lessons to make out of my fresh experience.
You Gotta Know How To Pick Them
I never focused only on influential bloggers. I wanted people who were active and engaging. I was looking for motivated and expired bloggers and social media users who would be interested in devoting some time to joining and using my platform (and ideally helping promote and grow it).
A good blogger to connect with is engaging with their followers. They enjoy getting into discussions with people. They regularly answer questions and show that they care about the conversation.
Twitter is a good tool for ascertaining this and an easy way to connect. You will probably be more likely to nab a blogger’s attention there than through the comment section.
Featured tool: Twitter chats are by far the most effective way to get fellow bloggers’ attention. Use TwChat to participate and host twitter chats. There’s also a calendar of marketing chats to follow.
Don’t get obsessed with that “Influencer” thing.
Yes, higher-profile bloggers are able to drive more exposure to you than tens of your peers, but guess what: Your peers will join you in building your resource and will stick with your for years, while an influencer will forget about you right after that tweet (Yes, they are busy people, not blaming them!)
So while connecting to an influencer from time to time is a nice thing to do, don’t get obsessed. In social media, every genuine connection is priceless. Value all of them!
Featured tool: Oktopost is a great tool to make the most of those interactions. Their social inbox feature lets you track and manage your interactions effectively, so you never miss a single one!
You Gotta Make Your Account Interesting
For me, building up following is naturally easy. I was already tweeting a lot, and I was making sure that what I offered was high quality and would be of interest. So by the time I was interacting with Twitter users, I had a pretty well stocked account with a lot to look at.
I didn’t have to beg for follows, I just had to prove I was worth one.
Featured tool: Viral Content Buzz is a great tool to make sure your Twitter feed is consistently updated with high-quality content. Every morning, I just add great articles from there to my “Buffer” and those Tweets go live whether I have the time to tweet during the day or I am busy with anything else.
Cyfe is another great platform to discover useful content to publish to your Twitter stream. I use Cyfe to collect post ideas from multiple sources including the unlimited number of RSS feeds, Twitter search, hashtag feed, etc.
You Gotta Be on Top of Lots of Conversations Simultaneously
The reason why I love Twitter so much is because it’s so fast and instant. You actually observe the conversation happening: You are right in the middle of it.
However, that brings an interesting problem: You need to be constantly keeping an eye on what Twitter users are saying (that relates to you or your industry). Twitter interactions work best if you react immediately.
In order to always be on top of Twitter conversations (while still being able to do my work) I use Tweetdeck. I’ve explained my Tweetdeck strategy here. In short, I am using advanced Twitter search operators to monitor my brand mentions and important hashtags using the desktop alerts to be able to timely join the conversation:
You Gotta Take Those Relationships Off Twitter
While Twitter is great for discovering contacts, if you want to build long-term relationships with bloggers, you need to do that off Twitter. Attending industry events is one of the best ways to build connections: Using the official event Twitter hashtags it’s also easier to connect to your Twitter contacts there.
However, there are more ways to do that.
Segmenting your email list based on your social media interactions and following is another great way to make more sense of those interactions. Getresponse has one of the most robust social media integration features in the market which I would definitely recommend taking a look at.
With embed content you can also bring Twitter conversations to your own site! This site, for example, does that masterfully, using Twitter to source product reviews and offer them as part of the on-site discussions:
You Gotta Be Genuine
One of the worst tactics I have seen used in reaching out is sycophantic following. Or, as they would put it, “becoming a fan”. They will start sharing all of their content, retweeting all of their links, and droolingly applauding everything they say.
It never works… What works is being genuine and natural. Just be yourself, express your own opinion and always be true to yourself.
Be genuine in your interactions. Only share what you find valuable. Leave comments on their tweets or blog posts that are more than “OMG THIS IS SO GREAT I LOVE YOUR BLOG!” Start a real discussion with them or share something you think will be relevant and interesting.
Further reading: Here are some ideas on how genuinely interact on social media.
If you can prove that you know what you are talking about, you will immediately become of interest because you aren’t just a potential follower they are catering to. You are a potential connection to them, just as they are to you. Which brings us to our final tips…
You Gotta Stay Away From Selling
You are not trying to sell yourself! Sure, you are hoping for exposure. However, going at it from an angle of promotion alone is going to make you crash and burn. Ultimately, you are just building a presence and letting that speak for itself.
What I said in the last tip about being a potential connection to the blogger is perhaps the most important thing I have learned through this process. You have to show them what you can do for them, without ever actually selling yourself. If you follow all of the tips above, you will do that without any selling being required in the first place.
All in all, I would say that connecting with bloggers is one of the best forms of promotion there is. But it is more than that. It is a way of establishing yourself within the hierarchy of that industry’s experts. It is a way of reaching out and forming attachments that could have far reaching positives for you both. It is a way of solidifying your brand without using some of the more scummy or manipulative forms of advertising.
Remain genuine and work first to be interesting and engaging. Once you start reaching out, the relationships you build will be much more useful and real as a result.