Using social media to identify & reach out to influencers; ACTION vs Talk. How to tell the difference.

There is a great Kenny Chesney song on country radio today that talks about noise. One line says that “…we didn’t turn it on, but we can’t turn it off.” (Listen Here) Not only is he right, but for me, that line cuts through any commotion that is going on in the car or at the BBQ. I hear that phrase every time that song comes on whether I notice that its playing in the background at first or not. 

Between hearing that song on the radio during my commute to the office this morning and a conversation I had with a good friend once I got there, it was like a sledge hammer that I needed to address the issue of NOISE this week. There is a huge difference between action and talking about doing something. 

There is so much noise out there from people who say that they are doing something versus people that are actually doing it. Typically the ones that are most reserved are the ones actually making things happen. (Which are you?)

Is it ironic that I am sitting here writing about action versus doing it? Trust me, that point isn’t lost on me either.

Here’s the difference; if I can give you one example of an action to take that I have done or my team is doing right now for our clients, then that step could make all the difference in your business. Any piece of advice I ever give or talk about, either comes from successful campaigns we have done at The Aebli Group to gain new business, or implemented for our clients as a marketing agency. The noise from self proclaimed hustlers or the folks that say they can do it too, isn’t useful.

You know a couple of those people right? You say you need this or want to do that and they respond that they can do that too!  Quick validation point; has the guru you follow ever had to make payroll Thursday night or Friday morning? Have they ever had to dip into savings to make sure that everyone on their staff got a pay check? Or do they claim to work from home in their pajamas and have this 7-step program to follow for you to make millions? 

This morning that noise ended up leading to an issue for a good friend of mine. They are a small business in the midwest that has 4 full-time employees and 4 or 5 contractors that work seasonally. They offer services that are targeted at business of all sizes. The owner finally took the plunge on hiring someone to handle PR, social media and some day-to-day marketing. This was a full-time position. (They are not our client and I do not work with them on any projects.) 

As you know, this is a big step for any business, but especially a smaller company. My friend had recognized that he needed each of these elements in his day to day operation and that if coordinated correctly, one person should be able to handle all three responsibilities.

If they were my client, I would have told him at the beginning that when you create a plan that combines all 3 marketing mediums you get better results then if you treat each medium as their own activity. In my opinion and what we do for our clients at TAG, is build strategies that build off of each other with the goal being to compound results. When my friend hired his new employee, she did not share the same view and talked a lot about what she could do or was going to do but did not follow that up with real action. To her, each element was separate. She felt that a company was supposed to use social media to brand a company, PR to generate buzz and marketing to show the creative side of a business. Just like when you hire any new employee, not all of their opinions or their work ethic is apparent in an hour long interview.

One example of a new responsibility that he gave her was to drive influencers and traditional media types to an event. This event was going to be well attended by movers and shakers in the industry and would present unique one-to-one opportunities as well as behind the scenes looks at the newest products and services in that space that were on the market. 

He personally, and his team to that point, had never been very successful in bringing these influencers or media types to their event. However, insiders that had attended in the past raved about the quality of the event production, new relationships created because of the event and access to big wigs and people that were usually impenetrable during a normal business setting. 

The task was simple: get more people there that matter in the industry to attend the event by just about any means necessary.

There was five or six months lead time to the event and he hired her because her strategy to attract these targets was through social media. His lack of experience with social media platforms really attracted him to her supposed skill sets. The truth is that she never actually implemented a full strategy. She used Twitter and LinkedIn primarily to reach out and sent simple direct messages, direct tweets and in-mail messages on LinkedIn to invite them. If you have used social media at all you know that you can identify a couple hundred people that could matter in just a few short hours, let alone five months. Her idea of metrics were to show reach and new “Likes,” not interaction or meaningful community participation.

Fast forward to today and just after the event; no influencers showed up and zero new media participated in the event at all. 

What can you do to avoid this mistake? 

There are two ways to make sure you don’t get duped by someone blasting about the latest trend. The first is to inspect what you expect. If you give directions and an important task to a member of your team, follow-up. Make them accountable. The second element that will help you avoid this mistake is to set clear expectations and participate in the process. 

Here is what I would have done differently: I loved the part about using social media to identify and reach out to influencers. There is no more direct way to someone then by going to their person pages and requesting to connect or follow. 

The unfortunate part was that there was no follow-up. 

Once the identification was made and first correspondence sent, she needed to stick around. Find out what these people were talking about and inject a smart point in their conversation. Follow some of their hash tags or join the same LinkedIn groups. Now there is some commonality. 

To take it a step further, she should have sent a personal email introducing herself. At this stage, this would be at least the third contact point, potentially the 4th or 5th. The person that she was trying to meet would soon start to recognize if the same name or handle popped up across multiple channels. I would also say that she still shouldn’t be “asking” for something. The first goal would be to connect and be noticed.

Once the recognition has taken place, then the cause or request can be soft-tossed. No need to box and close, just ask if they are available or have interest in the topic. 

After the ask is made, it is ok to follow that with a little more aggression. A follow-up phone call to the office or a nice letter sent to their business address. At this point there should be a level of comfort and recognition that she was a real person. 

Use your business as an example. Who would you target? Who is an influencer in your industry that could make a difference if they knew who you were? You may not be putting on an event or need media coverage, but these steps work in just about any scenario where you need to be recognized. This process has allowed The Aebli Group and our clients cut through the noise to be noticed for all of the right reasons. It can work for you too!