My last post explained how, as an agency, you can set up social media channels for your client. This post refers to the recruitment of fans and followers for those channels.
By now you will have a campaign strategy, you know where your target audience can be found online and you’ve activated channels to reach them. Now you want to get people following your client. There will be plenty of potential followers but you should begin by seeking out the most high-quality ones.These can be defined as thought leaders within the client’s sector who are active in social media channels and have a sizeable following already.
I’ve categorised them into four groups:
- key bloggers
- Twitter influencers
- Facebook Group moderators
- website and forum owners
I’ll explain how to find them, contact them and give advice on recruiting them below.
1. key bloggers
The most influential bloggers tend to have a large following to whom they can promote the client’s social channels. Research shows that 32% of people trust what bloggers tell them which is far greater than the trust people place in advertisers.
By gaining the support of influential bloggers you can piggy back on the trust they have earned from their followers. If an authority blog author follows you then his or her readers are more likely to regard you as trustworthy.
To find influential or authoritative bloggers you must first find their blogs. Google Blog Search and Technorati both allow users to search for blogs that cover particular topics. Technorati even gives blogs a score based on how authoritative they are. In addition paid services such as Social Media Library are available that evaluate and categorise blogs as well a ranking them by authority.
Most blogs will display contact details for their owner or if the worst comes to the worst you can post a comment on one of their articles. When they come to moderate the comment, they will see your message. Use this technique sparingly, though, as it could be seen as spammy.
When contacting bloggers there are a few considerations to bear in mind:
- Bloggers can be professional commentators, amateur activists, elected politicians, journalists or hobbyists. What they have in common is their passion for sharing their knowledge and experience
- Treat bloggers with respect in the same way you would a journalist or professional writer
- Always approach bloggers in a professional manner. Even if you represent a huge brand never assume that they will be so impressed as to ignore an impolite or, worse, arrogant message
You may be able to engage bloggers through a simple exchange of email correspondence but, in my experience, that is unlikely. Instead, after making initial contact via email, meet your potential bloggers face to face. I would suggest hosting some kind of blogging event where they can meet the agency team and client to discuss the aims of the campaign and how the bloggers will work in partnership with the client and agency.
For example, hold a workshop at a central London venue. Invite the influential bloggers you have identified and pay their travel costs. Introduce them to the product or service at the heart of the campaign and hand out samples if possible. Address them in small group or on-to-one if possible and let them raise concerns or make suggestions. Finally supply them with a blogging pack which includes assets they might need for successful blogging. These may be product shots, corporate logos, technical descriptions statistics or research findings.
2. Twitter influencers
Similar to bloggers, influential Twitter users are regarded as experts in their field and, as such, have accrued a large following.
The Twitter advance search feature can help pinpoint Twitter users active in a certain sector. Online Twitter directories such as We Follow and Twellow are also valuable resources for discovering key influencers. Social Media Library ranks users by a Twitter Score which is represents how influential they are.
Once you have identified key Twitter influencers you should follow them which, although not guaranteed, may prompt them to follow you back. When they are following you, you can send them instant messages. But don’t be tempted to do so until you have built a rapport with them by responding to their tweets and contributing meaningfully to the conversation.
Always be transparent in your dealings with Twitter users. Explain who you are working with, what the campaign is and what it intends to achieve. Have a definite plan for Twitter and don’t tweet unless it supports your campaign.
3. identifying Facebook Group moderators
Facebook Groups are set up to address particular topics or highlight causes. Their moderators are often passionate about the subject they cover and are activists rather than professional commentators.
finding and contacting them
Use the Facebook search tool to find group moderators.
- Refine the search to display only Groups by clicking the Groups icon on the left hand side of the page
- Click on a group name to see the group homepage. On the left hand side of the page below the group information you will find details of the group administrator(s)
- Click an administrator’s name to open their personal page
- At the top-right of the page you will see the Send Message button. Click this and enter your message
Only contact Facebook Group moderators if you can make a positive contribution to their campaign. For example, if you produce a car safety belts you could contact the moderator of a road safety Group with the results of crash tests you have carried out. This is a standard PR technique, with your aim being to get the company or brand named in the Group. Never, ever try to sell something on a Facebook Group.
4. identifying authority websites and forums
The owners of popular websites and forums will have substantial online authority and can be powerful advocates.
Probably the most relevant websites are those that represent trade bodies but leading manufacturers or suppliers can be contacted through their web pages. Website owners will respond best to a simple email message explaining what the campaign is about and inviting them to visit the social channels. Avoid any kind of marketing-speak or jargon.
Forums can be identified through a web search. Most forums will display details of how many members they have and how many discussions have been posted. In general the most influential forums are those with a larger following. Forum administrators can be contacted through the contact page on their sites.
When it comes to recruiting followers in social media channels, initially quality is more important than quantity. Try to find individuals who are regarded as experts in their particular field and approach them in a polite, professional fashion. Always be candid in social media channels – users will soon see through any attempt to play them and will react very negatively to it.