Part of what ails the public relations profession is its insistence on measuring its success by clip counting (counting the number of articles or mentions), with audience impressions or reach (how many people might have seen this) and with Ad Value Equivalency (how much would this coverage be worth if I had to buy it). This kind of thinking has extended into social media.
The problem with this kind of orientation toward success is that it puts the focus on quantity vs, quality, and on activity vs. results. It also isolates the success of a program or outreach to a measure that has been proven to be ineffective and ignores the Ecosystem that produces these results.
There has been much written on how PR professionals can tie their activities to business results (pdf). Mashable ran a pretty good post on how to measure the ROI of Social Media last year. And Oliver Blanchard has a great series of videos about how to define and measure the ROI (read: revenue) of social media for the business crowd.
Intro to Social Media Ecosystem
I am not going to talk about ROI here but what Olivier talks about as the “stuff inside the box.” One of those things that I think is more important than things like social mentions and traffic is relationships. For any company involved in social media, the relationships are the glue to everything, including eventual sales and ROI. I call this the Social Media Ecosystem because your outreach in online media should go well beyond pitching to a more symbiotic relationship. From this base, or Platform, you can launch all kinds of communication, programs and events.
As you can see in the diagram, there is a multilevel interchange between an organization through its social media channels, both the owned (platform) and partially owned (social networks) channels. Each of these areas have impact on the others. So, calling for a blogger relations outreach also means forming relationships (good or bad) with the communities that participate in these channels.
It’s All About the Relationships
Here are the tips that we came up with when you are doing outreach. This is only one piece of the puzzle in the Social Media Ecosystem, but if you don’t get this piece right, I would suggest that you won’t be very successful.
Tips for working with Digerati
- Time: Blogger relationships take time to build.
- Building Blocks: Don’t expect overnight results from blogger outreach. It might take several campaigns, promotions or ideas for the right one to stick.
- Free Stuff: Swag is nice as a thank you, but inappropriate as bait.
- Relationship Metrics: Don’t look only at the number of Tweets or posts from a campaign, instead focus on the number of relationships built
- Fanbase: Over time, a base of loyal fans will deliver more results than a one-off campaign
- Outsourcing: Don’t hire a PR agency to build relationships for you, instead, use them for introductions and/or research.
Resources for Finding Digerati
- Authorities: Look to the voices in your industry and find out who they read, listen to or comment on. Follow the breadcrumbs and start reading and building relationships with those people.
- Search: Make a new search term on Google Alerts or Stumble Upon and see who comes up….the ones who come up repeatedly may be your nearest targets.
- Scanning: Scan different social media properties and save common search terms to see what might come up. For example, if you are launching a consumer product that will be used by forty-somethings, Save a Twitter search with that term and watch it for a couple of weeks.
- Lists: Find a list of bloggers or Tweeters that cover your, or a related, topic and watch them a few weeks, also follow who they refer to in posts and tweets. Good lists are on Alltop for blogs and Listorious for Twitter. You can see what they write about at PostRank.
- Conferences: Meeting face-to-face is where it is at, even in a digital world. You can check out the upcoming Web Conferences list. For parenting bloggers you might try BlogHer, Mom 2.0 Summit or Blissdom. Watch to see what the bloggers covering your area attend, or what they say they wish they could attend. Be there!
- Events and Access: Often the best way to “meet” bloggers is to invite them to an event or give them access to already-planned events. If you would consider having media at an event, also invite bloggers from the local area, too.
Please add your ideas in the comments. How do you build better relationships with online influencers? Do you see anything missing from the ecosystem? I would love to hear from you.