The number of people using social media to interact with their friends and share content that they think is valuable continues to increase. With hundreds of millions of users around the world, sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are starting to dominate the way most websites publish and share their content. These websites often serve as the place where “water cooler” discussion takes place regarding popular blog posts, influential authors, and the best websites within any specific niche. Reaching out to these users, then, should be considered a key part of operating and promoting a website.
Social Outreach and Blogger Outreach
The important thing to understand about the Internet is that traffic will not just come to a website on its own. Instead, traffic must be driven and encouraged by things like social or blogger outreach. Social outreach occurs when the website’s owner actively engages in the major social media sets, sharing posts or other content and interacting with followers. Cultivating even more followers, fans, or “likes,” can help to boost the website’s stature on social media and in its blog comments.
Blogger outreach involves taking the discussion to other blogs that share the same interest, generally by posting original comments on someone else’s blog posts. This is a great way to gain the respect and trust of the author, as well as to communicate credibility on the subject. It’s essentially the original form of social outreach, and is the way people have been building blog-to-blog relationships for the better part of a decade.
Raising the Stakes: Social Outreach Depends on Influencers and Key Topics
While blogger outreach generally involves navigating to the most reputable blogs in a niche and interacting with the author via comments, social outreach involves a social search process that is a bit more involved. To have the best chance at developing a reputation and increasing a website’s hits or conversion rate, authors must identify the key influences in their content niche. They must analyze social media trends and target those that are most likely to help them drive traffic to their own website.
Social outreach of this nature is generally powered by things like social search. Social search tools allow a blog’s author to actively search a social network like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, for trending topics and influential social media accounts that are most likely to generate large amounts of traffic. By targeting influential users with the trendiest topics of the moment, websites are allowing themselves to be positioned more highly in things like the Twitter “Discover” tab and the Facebook news feed.
Finding the key topics and people to target when reaching out to other authors and key influencers can be difficult without the right tools. Thankfully, there are quite a few social search tools to choose from when seeking to research these key people and topics. In particular, three of these social search sites stand out as unique, effective ways to engage in social outreach.
Social Mention is one of the most powerful tools in the arsenal of website owners looking to reach out to influential authors with key topics in their niche. The site breaks down every trending topic in terms of its reach, passion, strength, and sentiment. After a search has been performed, users can see how often people are posting new tweets about the topic, and they can view the number of unique authors discussing the content.
The number of retweets is also listed alongside searches made with Social Mention, which serves as a key indicator to authors. If there are many retweets, it’s likely that targeting this topic will be quite rewarding for the author. If not, this may be too big of a risk and it may not allow for very effective social outreach. Results can be easily sorted, but this social search tool makes it nearly impossible to find influential authors. Instead, it focuses primarily on recent tweets and influential topics.
Social Mention and Topsy are generally useful for finding new accounts and interacting with new people about trending topics. This is the best form of social outreach, but it neglects a key area: Reaching out to those who have already committed to following the site’s Twitter account or the author’s personal account. These people need to be engaged with just as robustly, and Followerwonk is the key to making that happen.
By signing in with Twitter and linking an account to the site, it’s possible to see exactly what followers are discussing and which topics are trending among those who are most committed to the site. With careful planning, these people can be brought back to the website through engaging messages and custom-tailored social search.
The social outreach experience at Topsy is just slightly different from Social Mention, with a few improvements that might please some website owners. Unlike the tool at Social Mention, users of the service can break their search down by tweets, images, and what the website calls “experts.” This allows for the key influencers in any space online to be easily revealed through a web search, and it makes powerful social outreach that much easier for website owners looking to drive traffic to their content.
Search results can further be broken down by time periods, from one week to one month, and a graph is displayed showing the topic’s activity in the last hour. Search results are displayed Google-style, making it easy to navigate to a social media post and share that content, comment on it, or use it as part of a social outreach strategy.
Social Search Powered Outreach: Don’t Forget the Social Part
There are endless opportunities presented from social search every second. Millions of them happening in real time, right now. There just went one right there, did you catch it? It is important to note that simply searching for people on Twitter who have websites in your niche and sending them a a blind e-mail without any previous contact is borderline spam in my honest opinion.
I recommend attempting to have an actual conversation with them first on their social network of choice (the one they are most active on). Comment on a piece of content they created and add value to the conversation. Repeat. Once you get to know them better, offer them a high value piece of content in exchange for a link back to your website. Repeat. Whatever you do, don’t forget the social part. Effective social outreach starts with, well… being social.