Bringing The Social Back To Social Media

by Patrick on November 26, 2009


Penelope Trunk sent me a card! Swoon!

Back in October I got card in the mail. I had to double check to make sure it was addressed to me, I mean who sends snail mail anymore? It was indeed for me, and it was from my blog crush, Penelope Trunk.

I was as giddy as a Jonas Brothers fan- I mean it had her signature and everything!

It was a thank you for helping spread the word about her website, Brazen Careerist. They were launching a site redesign and they reached out to a small group of bloggers which included me. I was more than happy to help them out, but as I read the card I started to think what it was exactly that enticed me to help them out.

As many of us try to navigate the dark, unknown sea of social media; PR and Communications professionals everywhere are looking for the answer to the question: how can I effectively reach out to people on social media? Everybody knows that social media is the future of communications but nobody knows exactly how to effectively use it. During these tough economic times, these professionals are pulling out all the stops to make an impact and have become pushier in their blogger outreach; which couldn’t be anything farther from the right way to do things.

So how did Brazen Careerist got me to write about them? They understand the importance of relationship building.

Social Media eliminates the borders in regards to connecting with people and while some will say that the technology has made us more isolated; it also holds the potential to create even more imitate relationships with those we communicate with the most. I think those that understand that social media is actually social will be the ones that will be most successful in the realm. This means that the most successful bloggers aren’t the ones that spend all day writing on their computers- it’s the ones that actually get away from their computers and experience life. What makes a more interesting blog post: a recap of a wire story or a story about the time you met future reality TV stars? That’s not going to happen by tweeting all day at home.

PR  professionals often treat bloggers like print media, and for professional bloggers that pretty much work as new media journalists that’s perfectly fine. But how about the influential niche blogger that writes as a hobby? How do you attract their attention? Not by sending form letters and press releases. So why do I get still get such items in my inbox? Because it’s what PR flacks are used to.

I saw this really enlightening video on Lindsey Mastis’ blog about the technology of communication and how it changes the way we actually communicate:

One of the ideas in the video: the failure of old tactics in a new medium is why blogger outreach often produces mixed results.

So thinking back, how did Brazen do it? Well as a community oriented site they have a natural advantage in that they had a base audience that they interact with on a daily basis. Within that audience they identified key bloggers that who would be interested in the news about Brazen. Basically they found Brazen’s biggest, most vocal fans- but what’s more important is that they approached them the right way. I remember the e-mail pitch was personal, low-key, and demonstrated that they knew who I was and what I wrote about. They could of simply blasted out an e-mail to the entire community but instead they reached out to a few select people, much like how a friend another friend a favor based on that friend’s background and knowledge.

The thank-you card was a classy follow-up, something that I don’t see done a lot. It made me feel more appreciated for going out of my way to help somebody out.

While social media is a new medium and it requires different tactics than before, there’s one idea that’s rather old that really helps: being social. The idea of networking, and relationship building isn’t new but it’s what I think is the best way to engage people online. If I did social media outreach my mantra would resemble a Justin Timberlake song: I’m bringing social back (into social media.)

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