The Mindset: Don’t Be That Guy
First, learn to promote, but don’t be that guy. It’s really important that you are participatory in the social space. If you’re here just to talk about you, your work just won’t get as much spread. People won’t take the actions that they might if they feel you’re “one of us.” By starting with this point, I’m saying this: your mileage WILL vary if you approach social media tools as just another channel exactly like what you were doing with marketing.
The Groundwork: Home Bases, Outposts, and Passports
Second, put into place a system where you have a simple presence framework set up. Make your blog (or the main site you need to promote) your home base. Build outposts that point people to this blog. That means, link your blog into your Facebook, into your LinkedIn, into your Twitter, into your email signature, and on every other relevant social network you belong to, so that people there can also see what you’re talking about. If your blog is unique and useful, consider submitting it to Alltop, too. (If your home base isn’t a blog, skip that step.)
Outposts are essentially places where crowds might be gathered, but not specifically gathered for your blog/site. Giving your social networking participants a chance to interact with your material is a great way to find new audience.
Some people ask if you should automate your blog posts to dump into Twitter. Google recently added this feature to FeedBurner, and before that, several people were using the RSS-to-Tweet apps of a few other groups. I’ve never been a fan. I like hand-delivering my posts to Twitter by asking a question related to the post. (Most recently, however, I’ve started a new Twitter account called @broganmedia, where I am automating my tweets, and no one seems to be expressing a negative opinion. Test it, if you’d like.)
Passports are just accounts on sites where you might not feel like maintaining a full blown presence, but where having an account will be helpful, should someone start a conversation on that platform about you. Swing by this post to get some starter sites where passport accounts might be useful.
Find Your Audience
The first steps to finding the people you need relates to growing bigger ears. Your audience isn’t the person with the largest Twitter following. Your audience isn’t the person who “likes tech.” Be better than that. Find the people who seem to be talking about what you’re talking about.
And then, COMMENT. Comment on their stuff, and don’t talk one lick about your site. Share your passion on that person’s site. More often than not, you get an instant new relationship where you’ll see eye to eye.
Here’s a hint: people aren’t exactly sitting around wondering what else to read. They’re thinking, “what else will equip me to do my stuff better?” That line of thinking will change EVERYTHING. It should change how you create content, and how you go about finding people to promote your work to, in the larger run.
Details of the Promotion Itself
If you’re promoting blog posts or other content pushes, the goal is to attract eyeballs. My best advice here is to be helpful. People want information that will equip them. Whenever I write something about myself, people are polite. Whenever I write something you can use, people are voracious in their sharing.
If you’re promoting an event, use multiple tools. Build a Facebook following and promote it there. Use Upcoming.org and Eventful.com and consider tools like Tweetbrite.com. Be everywhere, if the event is open to everyone. Look at Google Groups and Yahoogroups for the area where you’ll be holding the event and determine if there’s any value in your joining beyond just promoting your event. (Don’t just join to promote, but become part of the community and see what else you can do BEFORE promoting).
If you’re promoting a product or service, it’s better if your audience are the types of people who might want to use such products. It’s amazing the kinds of things people try promoting to me. I get invited to try out make-up and vegan food dishes and all kinds of things that have nothing to do with my lifestyle. I guess the best I can tell you here is that if you’ve built a blog and social following, hope that they’re the people your stuff is built to support.
Promoting for Others
Here’s where things get crazy. I get asked to promote for other people dozens and dozens of times a day. Most times, it’s just a bold request to help someone get attention, whether or not it even relates to my typical audience and community. Smarter people know I’ve a soft spot for causes and charities, but even that can get tiresome. Think about all this before you ask for help promoting something, and think about it when you start promoting for other people.
Promoting for others isn’t just a matter of passing information along a stream. In some way, by passing the information, you’ve agreed to spread that word. Think on that before saying yes. Is it something you’re willing to stand behind? I’ve sometimes fallen prey to this one, as sometimes, I just want to support a friend, and I don’t necessarily realize what their project is fully about. Rest assured that I take a few moments to see where I’m sending people.
One big point of getting others to promote: make it EASY. The more you make someone do, the less likely it is that they’ll do it.
Above All Else
Keep it always in your mind that we’re not at these social networks for the same reasons. Some of us are there socially. Some of us are there for business. Some of us are working our passion jobs on social networks while our “real” jobs are something completely different. So bear in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all method for connecting, no “audience” the way marketers like to think of “lists.” This is all a matter of connecting one relationship at a time. It takes longer. It’s messier. it requires more work to do.
And yet, it’s working pretty darned well for lots of us, and could potentially do the same for you. It just requires heart.
What Did I Miss?
What else do you want to know? What else are YOU doing that works for you? How else can people promote better?
www.ChrisBrogan.com December 2009