How much time do you invest in crafting each piece of content?
I bet it is a good chunk of time – but how much time do you spend building a launchpad for your content? Not so long huh?
To give your content the best possible chance of success you need to put in the hard yards with your pre-seeding and outreach. If you consistently follow this practice you will not regret it!
Don’t worry if you don’t know where to start we will walk through a process that breaks it down into bite size chunks, so it is easy to follow and implement. This means that you won’t have to publish and pray any longer!
It all starts with community! Often part of the reason why people do not see the success they expect from their pre-seeding and outreach, is because everyone they contact has never heard of them. If you are on the path of crafting and pushing out regular content then community engagement is going to be one of your most valuable assets. Giving value within a community consistently means that people within that group will come to know you, and most importantly trust that you are a source of value.
Add value to conversations by commenting on posts where you can give advice or educate someone, there are communities everywhere so all you need to do is find those most relevant to your specialism and jump right in. Some of my favourite communities are:
- https://growthhackers.com/ – Growth Hackers is a valuable community of a wide range of people practicing a wide range of marketing disciplines, from analytics to user experience.
- http://inbound.org/ – Inbound.org is a great community of marketers sharing content and ideas around all things inbound. They also do kick ass AMA’s (Ask Me Anything) with key industry leaders, the Buffer team did one recently if you didn’t catch it check it out – there is some golddust to be had!
- http://www.producthunt.com/ – Since Product Hunt blew up my productivity has steadily declined! It is the epitome of a loyal community and does an awesome job of surfacing the best new products from makers all over the world.
Another great way to engage with relevant communities is through Twitter chats, there are thousands of Twitter chats around every topic imaginable! Find chat’s that are relevant to you and check them out, if you feel like you could add value to the conversation join in! This way you are right amongst an active audience that is talking about a subject you are interested in producing content around. If you are struggling to find Twitter chats check out http://twubs.com/ it is a cool site that allows you to find relevant chat’s quickly, if you are searching the site try to be specific as there are literally thousands of chats!
Some of my favorite Twitter chat’s include:
Follow the hosts of the chats you are interested in on Twitter to find out when the chat’s are taking place, I get lots of value from the chat’s above and there are some awesome folks that take part.
Taking the time to add value will not only grow your awareness and following but also mean that when you do come to asking people to engage with your content, they will be much more likely to do so.
To know who you need to target, first of all you need to know what you are going to write about. You should already have an idea around subject you want to write about so to validate that you are on the right track it is worth looking in to that subject area, see what content is performing well and get some inspiration for where you might be able to add value in this space. Use Trello to build and organise your ideas, every time you have an idea put it in Trello and you will soon have a great list to work from.
I use Uprise.io to find top performing content and to get an understanding of which soical networks are responding best to the content publishers are sharing. To give an example if i was planning on writing about “how to bake delicious cookies” i would visit the baking category, instantly i can see which articles are doing well and also see that Pinterest is dominating within in this category:
Now you know what content is performing well but also that Pinterest is the dominant social network within baking, this is instantly super valuable at this stage. You can go and engage with baking content on Pinterest and add value there, you will also gain an understanding of the quality of imagery involved in the successful posts so you know what needs to be included in your content.
Ok so you have found some great communities to engage with and got a subject planned for what you are going to write about, but who do you need to consider when thinking about reaching out to people?
You may have heard of influencer marketing already, and it seems recently that it has turned into its own micro specialism within marketing. This is with good reason, the returns that you can see from an influencer engaging with your content or sharing it can be phenomenal.
Influencers are people within a vertical that are specialists and usually experts within that field, because of this it is likely that they have been producing high quality content in one form or another for a long time. They are likely to be very busy people so do not expect them to engage with everything you ask them, be persistent and when they do engage it will be worth it.
You may not have thought about sharers as part of your outreach process before but they are super important, they can also provide you with a high level of engagement. Sharers are people that have shared content within a niche, to leverage this you need to find people that have shared content relevant to your subject and build a list or audience containing those people. (I will cover how to build an audience list later!)
Authors are the folks that write the content you have been researching, and i like to use authors in a specific way when crafting content. A well written piece of content should include references to other content that adds value or compliments the piece you are writing, so when you include these links you want to also find out the authors social handle and email address (where possible). Then when you have published your awesome content, reach out to the people you have linked to and notify them that you have linked to them because they are awesome.
You are not asking them for anything here particularly however, it is likely that one of two things will happen in doing this.
- They will reply to you and thank you, positive steps towards building relationships.
- They will share your content as it gives them exposure.
This is where you put all your research to work and start crafting your amazing piece of content, keeping in mind the key learnings you have looked at up to this point. Think about the following when you sit down to begin:
- Has there been any subjects that have really resonated with the communities you have been engaging with? Can you include that in your content, or link out to a resource about it.
- What type of content has been performing well within your category?
- Which social network has responded the best? This will help you include the right elements to help you gain traction, in the example using baking Pinterest was by far the dominant social network. So from that learning you would want to include beautiful imagery around your subject, due to Pinterest being an image based network.
- What content have influencers been sharing?
- Is there a good amount of sharers for your subject?
- Be sure to include links to other relevant authors work.
These elements will help you to craft something that truly appeals to everyone that you are going to be reaching out to which is absolutely key.
Building a target list
The process i use to build lists of relevant influencers and sharers allows me to build high quality lists that are not overwhelming, this way i can easily manage them as you do not want to automate this process at any point.
As i mentioned above i use Uprise.io to research content but also discover influnecers and sharers of that content, i will use baking as an example here.
Within the baking category there is a list of influencers and sharers categorised based on relevance and quality, i analyse these lists to find the humans rather than brands and once i find someone i deem relevant i “pin” them which saves them to a list within my “pinned” page.
Once i have gone through and i feel happy with the amount of influencers and sharers i have pinned, i head over to the pinned page where i export each list to CSV. This is some great stuff! You now have a list of influencers and sharers that already have an interest in what you are going to be writing about, which puts you in a good position for reaching out to them because you will be talking to them about something they relate to.
You now need to set up an excel spreadsheet or a Google sheet and create a separate sheet for each group, influencers, sharers and authors. Take the influencers and sharers you downloaded and paste them into their own sheets, also create a sheet to place all the authors you want to reach out to that you may have linked to within your content. You now have your lists to work through and engage with, as you contact them tick them off within your spreadsheet, don’t pester people! If they are not responding then wait until next time and try them again.
*Bonus tip – If you want to show some of the potential value of the audiences you have just created, use a simple reach calculation using the follower data contained in the export.
Users mentioning your brand (@UserA) = 1 sum of their followers (@UserA) = 5
(Methodology from Simply Measured – https://gnip.com/docs/Simply-Measured-Complete-Guide-to-Twitter-Analytics.pdf)
This will allow you to see the potential reach based on Twitter followers, use it to prove the potential value your outreach could have. Don’t get too hung up on reach though, it might not necessarily lead to engagement.
When it comes to reaching out you are already in a good position, you have been putting in the groundwork within relevant communities and adding value there. Now you are ready to begin contacting people about your content. There are two mediums i use to contact people and that is email and Twitter. First of all i use email to reach out to influencers and authors, it can be difficult to find email addresses and you also have to remember that these people are likely to receive a large volume of email. When reaching out to influencers you don’t want to ask for anything on the first contact, you just want to make them aware of your content.
An example of an email you might send out would be something like:
Hi [Influencer name]
I hope you are having a great day! I just wanted to send you my latest post as i thought you might find it interesting its about [niche or subject area they are active in]. You can read it here:
I hope you enjoy, and if you have any thoughts i would love to hear them.
Keeping the email short is always the best approach when reaching out to influencers, including the area they are active in shows you have taken note of their interests and specialism. If you have been engaging with their content in the build up to the email and they happen to click through to have a scan of your content, they may recognise that you have been active and either reply to you, or share your content – either of which is a win!
There is some crossover with influencers and authors so when reaching out to authors be aware of who you are contacting, you do not want to end up contacting the same person twice with separate emails. When it comes to reaching out to authors you should contact the people that you have used as resource links within your content, the same applies as with influencers you are not expecting an outcome at this stage you are just making them aware of your content.
An example author email would be:
Hi [Author name]
I hope you are doing great! I just wanted to let you know that i linked to your awesome resource within my latest post [link to post].
If you would like anything changing please let me know and i will be happy to amend it.
Have a great day,
Keep it short and sweet and don’t go asking for shares straight away with no relationship, keep letting them know and adjust how you contact them based on their response. If they reply to you on Twitter, drop the emails and just notify them via Twitter. You are giving them coverage within your content so they already have a vested interest in your content, again its about consistency and not being too pushy here. You want to send out these emails before you begin promoting your content through your own channels, or through paid media. This way if an author needs would like an amend to a link, or if an influencer gives you some feedback you can make changes.
*Bonus tip – If you are using gmail for your emails check out Streak a CRM that plugs in to Gmail. They have a free plan (and paid) that allows you to create a flow, so you can track where people are in terms of your outreach process.
Now for the sharers, i only use Twitter for this bit because the nature of Twitter it allows you to mention people in a casual and non-committal way. By now you will have ideally had a look at what the sharers have been up to on Twitter and interacted with the content they have been pushing out, whether that is through retweeting or favoriting their content. If you spot an opportunity to reply to one of their tweets with something relevant that is even better than a retweet or favourite, but only if you can add value – send them a link to a relevant article or if they are asking a question about your specialism try to answer it.
An example of me trying to answer a question from Josh Pigford:
— Uprise.io (@uprise_io) April 2, 2015
Then when it comes to sending them your content you have already touched base with them, use an @ mention and send them a link to your latest article, eg:
Try to make sure you are staggering your outreach to sharers, if you want you can use Buffer to schedule the tweets that you are going to send to them. If you are going to schedule these tweets make sure you are on standby to reply to these people, should they take the time to engage with you.
Often when people talk about following up on outreach they are talking about contacting again if they have not received a response, as i mentioned in the start of the post if you are on the path of crafting and pushing out regular content you do not need to do this. Let me explain.
Content marketing is a long term strategy and this approach to outreach and pre-seeding is also a long term strategy, following up as part of this process comes from when you reach out to people the next time you have crafted something wonderful. Repeating this process will keep you engaged with the right people and over time you will build your audience, and in doing this you will gain more exposure meaning influencers will be more likely to engage with your content.
Following this process and remaining transparent and gracious when people engage with you or your content, will put you on the right track to successful content marketing.
I would love to hear about any successes or learnings you might have had with your outreach process, please jump in the comments share your story.