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Outreaching is hard because it’s an imprecise science. There’s no surefire guideline to success. A “no guarantee” process might scare off most people, but not you. You’re brave.
Brave, but still not very lucky. You’ve been emailing like crazy only to garner a few results. You’re left asking yourself, “How do I find the right people to contact? How can I get their attention?”
These are questions I ask myself every day. It’s part of the job. I’ve had some great successes, and many more failures, but I never give up. One of the newest approaches I’ve implemented is Twitter. Don’t limit yourself to emailing. Use every available social tool you can. And so far, Twitter’s proven to be a useful tool that takes less time than most other social media sites.
You might be asking yourself, “This blog has a gazillion followers, why would they listen to me?” It’s true, the Internet is a big place and it’s difficult to reach out when you feel insignificant. All I can say is this is a perfectly natural reaction. Now stop it.
You’ve got to have confidence. Be realistic, but sell yourself as someone with something people want. The truth is, a lot of blog editors don’t realize how intimidating it can be to reach out to them. Don’t let them find out. Pitch with confidence. Twitter allows you to be confident in ways emailing can’t. It does this through its inherent structure by encouraging people to stalk.
That’s right, stalking; or in this case, following. It allows people to follow others without being creepy, and the same can’t be said for your email list or Facebook. Many are likely to deny a Facebook friend request if they don’t know who you are. Twitter actually encourages you to gain as many stalkers as possible, start following complete strangers and even engage with them. That last one is a godsend for outreachers, so take advantage.
Essentially, you should view Twitter as a directory filled with the people you need to know – the cool kids, if you will. Imagine blog editors as the cool crowd and you’re desperate to make an impression. Twitter allows you to do this without being considered a pest.
The first step is to differentiate yourself from everyone else. Blogs receive hundreds of emails a day, why would they listen to you? In order to do this you have to stop relying on contact forms and generic emails. Why? Because that’s what everyone else does – you’re trying to be different, remember? How many times have you filled out a contact form and politely pitched your request only to be met with painful silence – not much of a “Contact” page.
I feel your pain, sometimes when you outreach to a company it feels as though you’re having a conversation with a logo. That’s where Twitter comes into play. It helps you find who’s behind the logo. Trying to reach the editor of a blog through a contact form is like communicating through snail mail – a big, fat, waste of time. You want to contact a real person with an individualized email address. Twitter is a tremendous help here.
Are you familiar with Followerwonk? It’s a search engine that digs through Twitter profiles. You filter the key-terms and it finds matching profiles. To find the editor of a blog, search key terms like “editor” and “name of blog”. You can also search for hashtags that are relevant to your cause.
Once you have an actual person to contact, you’ve won half the battle. Now that you know who the right people are, you can find out what kind of person they are.
There’s nothing worse than a silent follower on twitter. A profile with hundreds of friends but with a conversationless page is boring. You tweet out and nobody cares to respond. After a while your page starts to look like a dumpsite for pointless tweets that go nowhere. A person with hundreds of engaging followers has created a community, so don’t remain silent. A blog wants you to converse!
Here are a few ways to engage with a blog:
The key to getting noticed is to be an active presence and build your own community of followers. If you want to get involved with a blog, see who they’re following. Have any of their followers been published? If so, try reaching out to them and ask them how they did it. Who knows you might form an unlikely friend.
Another one of the biggest ways to know how to engage is to actually read. So many people don’t do this. You have to put in the effort to get to know them. You can’t find out about someone from their name, instead read what they’re saying. Is it important? Is it relevant?
Follow the Golden Rule. Once you have a sense of who you might want to contact, it’s all about building relationships. Doing so will help you in the long run, which is why it’s the most important step. There is such a thing as tweeting too much. So be patient and don’t push.
If you’re tweeting to other blogs, be clear about what it is that you want to know. At the same time, don’t solely talk about yourself. Show interest in the people you need to be interested in you.
Remember: Relationships first, business second.