With every passing year, the topic of “social media influencers” gains momentum. Back in the day – as in back before the phrase “social media” even existed – reaching out and subsequently building a network of relationships with key influencers like bloggers, fan site owners, and forum administrators was almost exclusively the domain of niche players. Few enterprise brands devoted time to this highly manual and definitively non-broadcast marketing avenue, and the few enterprise marketers that recognized its value simply didn’t have the budget allocation or internal resources necessary to make any serious inroads.
Fast forward to 2012 and it’s hard to go a single day without seeing at least one article from a mainstream digital marketing publication extolling influencer outreach and engagement. Moreover, it seems like every agency is rolling out a link building and/or social media engagement service of one sort or another.
I field calls and emails from literally dozens of these outfits but legitimately converse only a small subset and only feel comfortable vouching for a very select few.
And the reason that I’m so selective is because I know from my own direct experience on the agency side that very few shops are willing to take social influencer engagement seriously enough to consider those influencers customers. And what do I mean by that exactly?
In a nutshell, I mean that most providers won’t take the steps necessary to build out a robust database of the influencers they reach out to so that they can build upon those initial outreach attempts and build truly profound and long-lasting relationships.
Mind you, a lot of providers out there think they have this covered with Excel spreadsheets that chronicles outreach targets. That might work for smaller brands but it just won’t cut it for enterprising marketers. What’s needed is a searchable, flexible, interactive, and preferably cloud-based technology platform that makes it easy to update key pieces of information like the name, contact info, social profiles, and contact history. Think along the lines of a CRM platform like Saleforce.com, but exclusively for managing social and SEO-related outreach contacts as opposed to traditional customers.
This is an important distinction in my opinion, and one that separates the truly enterprise-caliber agencies from the pretenders. So if you’re a digital marketer looking to truly scale your social media and SEO outreach and engagement efforts make sure that you make outreach management technology investment a prerequisite. Leveraging data in this manner will ultimately make a significant impact on the long-term marketing equity you derive from this facet of your digital marketing plan.