Knock Down the Social Media Dominos

Image courtesy of Flickr user rosendahl

Image courtesy of Flickr user rosendahl

If you’re on Twitter and follow Chris Brogan, you’re probably familiar with the “Chris Brogan” effect.  Basically, Chris has built up such a loyal following that whenever he tweets about one of your blog posts, tweets, etc., you immediately see a spike in your own Twitter followers and traffic to whatever he linked to.  In the social media community, Chris is a big domino, or as Malcom Gladwell put it in his book, the Tipping Point, a “connector.”  By reaching Chris, you’re not reaching just one person, but a whole army of people who are following him.

As a social media consultant for my government clients, this is a powerful concept, but it’s not new.  In the traditional media, why does the front page of the New York Times have more impact than the Des Moines Register?  It reaches more people.  It has more credibility.  It reaches a more influential audience.  This same concept applies, albeit in a different way, to social media.  The influencers are no longer restricted to just mainstream media like the Times or CBS News.  They are individual people now, not just age-old institutions.  Each niche topic area now has their own connector, their own Chris Brogan – someone who can reach a whole new audience that you haven’t been able to tap into.

An argument that I often hear is, “why should I spend the time hassling with some blogger with a few thousand readers, when millions read the New York Times?  Aren’t I wasting resources that could be used on securing media with a larger audience?

If I’m the public affairs officer for a smaller government agency trying to get the word out about a new program, I’m spending more time reaching out to the prominent bloggers in that topic area because I know that if I can get their support and they blog about how wonderful my program is, their readership will not only become aware of my program, they are more apt to support it because it’s coming from a trusted source.  And if I’ve identified the right bloggers, chances are good that the next domino, the beat reporter for the local paper, is also reading that blog.  They’ve now come across this great program that has the support of someone he or she trusts instead of receiving a pitchy, biased email in their inbox.

How many pitches does a reporter get each day?  How many does he actually follow through with?  What if he’s one of the readers of the blog that you’ve engaged?  Reaching out to an influential blogger is like knocking down that first domino.  By reaching someone like Chris Brogan, you’re also going to reach scores of other social media luminaries like Robert Scoble, Geoff Livingston, Jeremiah Owyang, each of whom has thousands of followers, including members of the traditional media.

So the next time you’re working on your media relations plan, make sure you’ve identified the people who are talking about your program, your agency, or your topic area and you have a plan for engaging with them (note I said engaging, not pitching to them – be a human being and just talk with people for once!).  Make sure that you’ve built relationships with these connectors, these social media dominos.

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About sradick

I'm Vice President, Director of Public Relations at Brunner in Pittsburgh. Find out more about me here (http://steveradick.com/about/).

View all posts by sradick
  • Marc Vermut

    Steve, great piece. And fits with the whole SME meme that appears to be floating around the twitterverse today. What social media brings is new TOOLs to existing industries, businesses, tribes, groups, practices, roles. We may use them differently, they may enable us to reach more people more cheaply, new people may be the influencers on these platforms. But at the heart, it’s about identifying the RELEVANT groups, tribes, networks and reaching them through nexus points of reach, authority and relevance.

  • Marc Vermut

    Steve, great piece. And fits with the whole SME meme that appears to be floating around the twitterverse today. What social media brings is new TOOLs to existing industries, businesses, tribes, groups, practices, roles. We may use them differently, they may enable us to reach more people more cheaply, new people may be the influencers on these platforms. But at the heart, it’s about identifying the RELEVANT groups, tribes, networks and reaching them through nexus points of reach, authority and relevance.

  • @Marc – thanks for reinforcing the point…I go through this every day at work when someone contacts me because they found my name through Joe who knows Kim who knows Tom who knows me. My colleagues with many more years of experience who have built their careers on networking via dinners, lunches, and golf outings are often amazed at the number of “real” contacts that I’ve made using these social media tools.

  • @Marc – thanks for reinforcing the point…I go through this every day at work when someone contacts me because they found my name through Joe who knows Kim who knows Tom who knows me. My colleagues with many more years of experience who have built their careers on networking via dinners, lunches, and golf outings are often amazed at the number of “real” contacts that I’ve made using these social media tools.

  • I can imagine it now, those of your blog readers who never heard of Chris Brogan before (and how could they not) and your other pointed luminaries are going to now follow them on twitter.

  • I can imagine it now, those of your blog readers who never heard of Chris Brogan before (and how could they not) and your other pointed luminaries are going to now follow them on twitter.

  • Dan Williams

    Good points Steve. I would also add that social media has more of a bubbling up effort vs. traditional media with it’s “trickle down” effect. If your content or idea generates enough among the regular people who are out there blogging about it and linking to it, then more than likely, the mainstream media will pick up on it. That makes for a powerful argument for “integrating social media into an organization’s existing strategy” (your words Steve, not mine).

  • Dan Williams

    Good points Steve. I would also add that social media has more of a bubbling up effort vs. traditional media with it’s “trickle down” effect. If your content or idea generates enough among the regular people who are out there blogging about it and linking to it, then more than likely, the mainstream media will pick up on it. That makes for a powerful argument for “integrating social media into an organization’s existing strategy” (your words Steve, not mine).

  • George Farrar

    Well stated. It should also be noted that many of the bloggers with huge numbers of subscribers are oftentimes mainstream journalists as well. As traditional print media continues to struggle with strategies to preserve their existence, they are requiring their reporters to write blogs, shoot video, participate in on-line chats, and many other non-traditional roles.

  • George Farrar

    Well stated. It should also be noted that many of the bloggers with huge numbers of subscribers are oftentimes mainstream journalists as well. As traditional print media continues to struggle with strategies to preserve their existence, they are requiring their reporters to write blogs, shoot video, participate in on-line chats, and many other non-traditional roles.

  • Anna Gabbert

    You are preachin to the choir! Your post covered media relations in a nutshell and as a PR professional, relationship building IS my business. I would never pitch a reporter blindly – that’s media relations suicide. It’s crucial to take the time to familiarize yourself with a blogger/reporter’s coverage, reach out to them and lay the foundation to build a dialogue. My clients don’t always understand why I need to communicate with bloggers and many consider online efforts to be a waste of time, but as traditional media slowly dwindles and more reporters are laid off everyday, forming these relationships with “alternative media” is even more important.

  • Anna Gabbert

    You are preachin to the choir! Your post covered media relations in a nutshell and as a PR professional, relationship building IS my business. I would never pitch a reporter blindly – that’s media relations suicide. It’s crucial to take the time to familiarize yourself with a blogger/reporter’s coverage, reach out to them and lay the foundation to build a dialogue. My clients don’t always understand why I need to communicate with bloggers and many consider online efforts to be a waste of time, but as traditional media slowly dwindles and more reporters are laid off everyday, forming these relationships with “alternative media” is even more important.

  • @Dan – thanks for bringing up the point of integrating social media into an organization’s existing strategy. That’s an important piece that shouldn’t be forgotten.

    @George – as an avid reader of sports blogs, I’ve read with great interest the plethora of various sports writers/reporters who have struggled to adapt to this new environment. Most either fail miserably (Jay Mariotti and Buzz Bisinger) or grudgingly accept it (Kornheiser). I think we’re seeing the same thing in the government – I can now reach directly to @govExec on Twitter and ask a simple question instead of formally pitching them via email. Now, when I send an email, I’m a real person rather than yet another random pitch.

    @Anna – “relationships…” That’s what it’s all about. If you understand how to build and maintain relationships, both physically and virtually, that’s the biggest and best lesson you can learn about media relations. I think that’s always been true – not sure why people think it’s any different with the advent of these new tools.

  • @Dan – thanks for bringing up the point of integrating social media into an organization’s existing strategy. That’s an important piece that shouldn’t be forgotten.

    @George – as an avid reader of sports blogs, I’ve read with great interest the plethora of various sports writers/reporters who have struggled to adapt to this new environment. Most either fail miserably (Jay Mariotti and Buzz Bisinger) or grudgingly accept it (Kornheiser). I think we’re seeing the same thing in the government – I can now reach directly to @govExec on Twitter and ask a simple question instead of formally pitching them via email. Now, when I send an email, I’m a real person rather than yet another random pitch.

    @Anna – “relationships…” That’s what it’s all about. If you understand how to build and maintain relationships, both physically and virtually, that’s the biggest and best lesson you can learn about media relations. I think that’s always been true – not sure why people think it’s any different with the advent of these new tools.

  • I’m reblogging this, if you don’t mind! Awesome post!

  • I’m reblogging this, if you don’t mind! Awesome post!

  • Pingback: A Few Thoughts for Media 2.0 « Adriel Hampton()

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