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.