Okay, so I admit, we here in the Houston area are pretty focused on power since many have been without it for nearly two weeks now. But it is also a fantastic metaphor for the point of connection between a company or organization and the people that they care about. When you get this connection right, sparks can happen and everyone wins.
In my first post in the Beyond Blogger Relations series, I covered the importance of building online relationships. I covered this first because I think it is fundamental to understand this aspect of online outreach before you ever start to “reach out” or “pitch” bloggers.
As a follow on to this article, but not really a part of the series, I started to address the very real question of how all of these relationships fit in with the average busy workday of the public relations or marketing professional. In other words, how do all these newly found “relationships” scale?
And buried in another post, I talked about “We Goals” that companies and individuals should keep in mind when stepping out into the social media arena.
We Goals include the following:
- Become a resource
- Solve a widespread problem
- Share knowledge
- Expand on existing understanding
Step One: Understand the culture and where you might fit
Here is a diagram that I use to visualize how this works.
This model takes into account that people online have organized themselves in communities (social environment) and that we are interlopers there. It also takes into account that there will be a context to whatever “relationship” develops between a company representative and the community, as well as individuals within that community.
Once you have all of that straight, you can start to think of engaging in a three step process:
- Listen: Monitor what is said about your company and the issues that matter to it
- Participate: Start to participate in community life. Leave comments on blogs, join the backchannel places like forums, Twitter and Facebook, among others, where the community that you are interested in “hangs out.”
- Contribute: Find a way to substantially contribute to the community with the resources that your organization or company has on hand or can easily create.
Step Two: Learn how to listen
I recognize that one of the most asked questions that I get from other public relations and marketing professionals that are new to social media is where they can find these “communities” to start listening.
It is easier than it might seem at first, but it requires a little more than simply making a list. However, lists are sometimes a good place to start to find influencers.
Here are a few that I know of:
AllTop: Has lists of blogs by topic, the only criteria for inclusion it seems is that you have to be added by Guy Kuwaski or one of his team
Top Blog Lists and Rankings: There are several that I know of, but you can do a simple search for your topic area of interest.The ones that I know of that are dynamically generated: Healthcare100, ParentPowerIndex, Power150 Marketing Blogs, Technorati's Top 100 Blogs and there are many other blogs lists that are put together by individuals on a irregular basis (Disclosure: Some of these lists were created by clients or former clients). If you have others you want to share, please do so in the comments.
Lists are only a starting place. Once you start looking at the blogs on the list, try to notice who links to the blog by searching for its URL on Google Blog Search and also on Technorati. Also check their sidebar for other social networks they belong to, and read their About page.
Monitoring: Add a bunch of these blogs to your feed reader, I recommend Google Reader or Bloglines for an online version and Newsgator and FeedDemon (my favorite) for an offline version and start reading them on a daily basis. For a quick overview of some of the most popular posts on a blog, you can use AideRSS to do a quick analysis, but nothing really beats reading on a daily basis. These blogs will quickly lead you to other blogs and give you a sense of who the influential players are in a niche.
Also, you should use Google Blog Search and Technorati to perform keyword searches and subscribe to these searched via the provided RSS link. Once you add these to your feed reader, you will get a pretty good idea of who is talking about your company or organization. It is also good to do keyword searches around issues that you are interested in tracking and becoming a part of online. In addition, you can use third-party paid tools to listen and measure social media efforts, but for now
I have any other ideas, but I would rather hear yours. How do you start the listening step in your organization?
More on participation and contribution in future posts.
Other Posts in this series: