Monday, April 26, 2010

BE Aggressive, B-E-aggressive!

Welcome to this glorious Monday edition of Real Public Relations!  Hope you all had a productive and prosperous weekend.  But, as is always the case, the sun sets, the sun rises, we party on Saturday and, inevitably, Monday morning rolls back around and we all have to get back to the grindstone.

For most, that means dealing with customers, clients, planning for events, creating presentations, attending meetings.  But there's one thing that everyone involved in social media campaigns ought to be doing, regardless of the day of the week; agressively using your various platforms to raise your profile and increase your online footprint.

A lot of you might think you're already being aggressive in your social media efforts.  But, chances are, you could be doing more.  Luckily, doing more doesn't necessarily have to mean setting aside more time than you have already alotted. 

Reach out and touch someone...but, you know...in a good way.

Grow, Grow, Grow!

Let's take a look at three primary platforms; Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  For some, being aggressive on Facebook means posting a status every day, and commenting on other posts regularly.  This is fine, and it keeps your profile in front of your friends already linked to you. 

But if your goal is to expose your organization to as many individuals as possible, this strategy won't cut it.  You have to actively search out groups, fellow organization and people, either in your vicinity or simply interested in your kind of service or product, in order to widen your circle of friends.  Take a look at the folks in your circle who have 1,000 or more friends.  Chances are these friend-grabbing folks are people with a business or service and they are trying to get out a specific message to the masses.  An example of this would be my friend Andrew Hudson, who has already surpassed the 5,000 limit imposed by Facebook and has now opened a correlating fanpage. 

The question is, how do these people amass such large numbers of friends and in this case, is quantity better than quality?  Let's address those two questions separately.  First, quantity is NOT better than quality.  If you feel more comfortable with 1,000 friends who you are fairly certain provide value to your efforts, then go with that.  But there IS a value in quantity and here's why. 

When you make a post to your Facebook page, every single one of your friends gets that post.  Imagine being able to post an ad, or a message or an update and immediately you are guaranteed to reach at a minimum of five-thousand sets of eyes and ears.  Now, imagine that it is almost guaranteed that at least a percentage, even if it's a small percentage, of those people will forward your contect to others within their own circle of friends, thus you are exposed to another group of individuals.  That 5,000 could easily triple or double within a matter of hours or even minutes.  And you've now reached 10, 15, 30 thousand people without spending a dime of money. 

Quantity or Quality?

So how do you gather that kind of quantity without giving up on your standard of quality?  The answer is be aggressive in your outreach.  You have to actively go out and find other people who you believe fit into your audience.  Go find a group that caters to your target audience and join it.  Then start friending people from that group.  It's like sales.  Not everyone will accept you as a friend, but if you send out 100 friend requests and only ten percent accepts, that's ten new people you have reached. 

Also, understand that it takes time.  Set a goal for yourself as you start, say, ten new friends a week.  If you can meet that goal, you'll exceed the five thousand mark in less than a year.  And that's assuming you only stay at ten friends a week.  Your content will go a long way to helping you build your circle.  If you post something that is particularly thought-provoking, or interesting or useful, there's a good chance others in your circle will repost or share it and some new folks will see your content and request to be friends with you. 

There is a point where the number of friends takes on a life of its own.  In other words, once you reach a place where you have enough friends sharing and reposting your content, it will be exposed to so many new people that the numbers will seemingly begin to grow by themselves.  You will still need to post quality content, but you won't have to be as aggressive on a regular basis.

The same concept works for your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts as well.  Set goals and go out and find people to befriend.  Send a message, let others know you are out there.  It's so much easier online than in person, because you simply have to send a short message and hit send.  Twitter is perhaps the easiest platform to build friends simply because, most of the work is being done by you.  Spend 30 minutes ploughing through the groups and friends lists of others already on your list.  Start following them and then sit back and wait to see what happens.

You can follow up to 50 new people a day if you wanted to, and, like Facebook, if even just ten percent of those folks return the favor and follow you, that's five new followers a day.  Extrapolate that across even the course of a month and you've suddenly found yourself with a boatload of followers and friends across three different platforms.  You'll be reaching different audiences, different groups of people, but in the end, you easily could reach up to 100,000 sets of eyes on any given day depending on your content. 

To put that in perspective, that's larger than the even the highest rated prime time local newscast in most cities.  Suddenly you're your own network.  The effort is worth it and once you start reaching those kinds of numbers, again, the growth will become exponential. 

We're not even talking viral here, because this will be a network built on content, not a one time funny video.  By the way, this type of strategy can also be implemented on other platforms such as YouTube, Flickr and with your blog.  This is really one instance of do unto others in action.  If you take the time to follow other blogs, subscribe to others YouTube channel, follow on Twitter or friend request on Facebook and LinkedIn, you'll start to see others do the same to you.

The Time Factor:

Now, I can hear you saying, "Sure, this makes sense, but I just don't have the time!"  I hear you and I get it.  But you should already be putting aside some time on a daily basis to tend to your social media efforts.  Most of that time should be spent focusing on your content, but maybe add ten minutes a day if you can to spend aggressively reaching out to others on your platforms and joining groups that fit with your message.

This is also where interns can really help out.  You can allow them to log into your account and spend a half hour a day going online to grow your circle of friends.  There's very little danger here to giving up this kind of control to a volunteer or employee or intern.  Even if they whiff on a couple of their friends selections, you can always come in later and make those few adjustments.  Give them a clear guideline of what kind of audience you're looking for, make sure they understand what you're strategy is and let them go forth and conquer.

In the end, we're talking about growing your network and circle.  The larger your network is, the more people your content and message is going to reach.  That's why, in this case, quantity isn't a bad word.  It will never trump quality, but when dealing with social media, quantity does play a major role in your growth and in raising your profile. 

So get out there and be aggressive, spend a little extra time and reach out to as many people as possible.  You won't be disappointed. 

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