Over the past few months, a string of people that I consider to be very knowledgeable about social media have started to publicly complain about people who claim to be social media “experts.”
The problem is that many of these self appointed “experts” haven't earned their stripes and haven't proven themselves in the market.
I think the fear is that people with little knowledge are like a bull in a china closet, and will break the trust so many of us are trying to build within online communities.
However, I know that these late-entrants will not be turned away as this market matures. It is inevitable that more marketers and public relations folk will attempt to understand and practice within the social media sphere.
While I am not an expert, I have had some early successes using social media for my clients, and I have learned a little bit about what works and what doesn't.
I have synthesized the words of a few others and added a bit of my own advice to help newcomers navigate this area. Call it bloggers relations, blogger outreach or influencer outreach (my new favorite term), but remember that it is all about the attitude you bring to the game and the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”
10 Tips for Social Media Outreach
1. Be transparent and clearly disclose who you are and/or who you work for in any correspondence via e-mail, in comments or on social networks and forums
2. Never use deceptive means, such as leaving fake controversial comments or pretending to be a “fan” of a product or service, to get coverage on a blog
3. Don’t pretend to read a blog if you don’t, it comes across as disingenuous
4. If time allows, read the blog on which you hope to get a mention and develop a genuine relationship with the blogger as a reader. When appropriate, comment on the blog and discuss other things besides the pitch
5. Never leave comments unrelated to the post
6. In general, even when it seems related, don’t leave a commercial-sounding comment on a post
7. Don't send formulaic (cut and paste) pitch letters. Treat each contact with a blogger as an opportunity to have a conversation about their interests and how your product might align
8. Don't pester a blogger to write about something, instead share information with them or ask their opinion about the product or service
9. Take care when offering free stuff to bloggers as it can cause a backlash with those that didn’t get the free stuff and with readers who might question the blogger’s objectivity
10. Check out the blogger’s “About,” “Contact” and “Advertising” page (if they have them) in an effort to see if they have blatantly asked not to be contacted by PR/Marketing companies and to learn more about their preferences
Sources: Ogilvy PR’s Blogger Outreach Code of Ethics, Blogger Relations: 5 Basic Cultural Facts, Anti-Astroturfing Code of Ethics, Blogger Relations for PR Flacks
tags: Blogger+Relations, Blogger+Outreach, Social+Media, Influencer+Outreach