Social media has completely revolutionized the concept of marketing. It’s changed the way you target and interact with potential customers. But it’s also changed the way you make important contacts in your field or in the media. Whereas in the past you had to call and try to schedule appointments with secretaries and assistants, social media gives you an avenue to connect with people directly.
It’s always nice to have a few friends in the press who can help you promote your latest brand development. But there’s an etiquette to making social media contacts. You can’t just swoop in and make your pitch and expect people to help you out. Here are some of the dos and don’ts of developing marketing contacts.
DON’T go in underprepared. Do your research. Who is it you’re trying to reach? Are you trying to pitch a specific media outlet? Different departments cover different things, so make sure you find the right person at that outlet to direct your query to who will be interested in your brand and your industry. Or are you trying to connect with someone specific in your industry whom you think can help you? Look carefully into who they are and what they do, and address why they should be interested in who you are and what you do. If you send the wrong message to the wrong person, or you sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about, your message will be ignored and deleted.
DO establish relationships. It’s very difficult to write a mass message that sounds like it’s personally addressed to each recipient. Even if you send them individually and insert people’s names, it’s easy for people to tell when they’re receiving a form letter. So don’t just send the same message to every potential contact on a list and hope some of them reply. The whole point of inbound marketing is that it’s not about quantity, but about quality. And that applies to making industry and press connections as well. People won’t help you unless they trust you, and they won’t trust you unless they know you. So get to know the people you’re contacting. Instead of immediately asking them to do you a favor, introduce yourself and start a conversation. Establish a rapport. Contacts are useful, but in the long run, relationships are much better.
DON’T overcomplicate things. When you do finally pitch a development you want promoted or a project you want to collaborate on, keep it short and sweet. You could send pages of outlines, charts, research and more, but remember, these are busy people and their time is valuable. If it takes them more than a couple minutes to reach your point, chances are they won’t be interested. So send the social media version of an elevator pitch, something that will keep them interested. If they like it, they’ll ask you for more.
DO be willing to back off. Everyone says that persistence is the key to success. Usually they’re right. But if you’re not careful, it can also be the key to alienating people. If, once you’ve reached out to someone, they’re not interested in helping you, let it go. You’re not going to change their mind by continuing to bug them, and it won’t ingratiate you to them. It will only make them pass the word on to their friends that you’re annoying and unprofessional and that they should avoid contact with you.