Heather Claus reveals both tools and approaches that will lead to huge jumps in traffic, a big boost in your perceived authority, inbound links, guest content, features on other sites, and a whole lot more!
What if every contact you made through social media connected you with 10, 100, 1,000 or even more potential visitors?
What if every networking effort built your authority ten times faster?
What if by simply networking and building your business, you were also creating goodwill that paid you back a thousand-fold?
All of this is possible, with a simple shift in your networking efforts: Peer Networking.
What is Peer Networking?
Simply put, it’s gearing your marketing to movers and shakers in your industry. Will this lead to direct sales?
What it will do is lead to huge jumps in traffic, a big boost in your perceived authority, inbound links, guest content, features on other sites, and a whole lot more!
In the past six months, I’ve used Peer Networking to grow my site traffic, to build my online interaction, and reach out to new markets. I’ll share my favorite tools, how I use them, and some ideas on how you might use them.
HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out. It’s a fabulous tool for finding the sources you need to create content, build relationships with sources, and become a source for some of the most powerful publications in the world (NYT, Wall Street Journal, popular magazines, blogs, etc.).
HARO does have a select criteria for who can post as a reporter, but none for who can respond as a source. Even so, I’ve found there to be a remarkably low incidence of spam and time-wasting.
To post as a reporter, your site needs an Alexa ranking under 200,000. You can’t ask for content over 300 words. You can’t ask for people to fill out surveys.
Here’s what HARO is good for:
- Meeting sources: Post a need – ask about a topic related to your site or niche market, get feedback, get to know who’s out there.
- Building long-term relationships: When you meet each new source, learn about them, then invite them to work with you. I ask my favorite sources to answer a weekly question. They get registered in my site and 30-50% of them respond each week. Others are writing monthly columns, yet others are offering giveaway items and guest blogs. All from following up on that single first contact.
- Becoming a source. I have made friends and valuable contacts at a few magazines because I responded to a HARO request. Some panned out immediately, others are another contact in my growing list of go-to people interested in the same things I am.
- Build Favors: When you see a HARO request that a Peer of yours could reply to, forward it. You never know when that small effort will come back to you.
- Builds Incoming Links: When you use content from your sources, make sure to send them the link to post on their own site, on twitter, on their Facebook pages.
I’m pretty sure we all know twitter here. Some love it, others hate it. What I’ve found is that twitter is VERY good for networking with other professions, both in and outside your field. If your client IS other professionals, you can Peer Network and market to your end user in the same tweets.
When it comes to twitter, a major complaint is about the “fake” or spam followers. Use this nearly universal dislike to your advantage with a few simple tricks:
- When you follow, say hello. Introduce yourself. I like to say something like, “I found and followed you, @username, through a #FF tweet by @username2.” Why? Well, it gives credit to another twitter user (karma points), and it lets your entire follower list know about this cool person you’re following (by putting the @ in the middle of the tweet, instead of at the beginning, you open that tweet up for everyone to read, not just you and the recipient).
- Watch who follows you. Even if you auto follow-back, check on who followed you (especially while you are growing your base), and thank them for following, say something nice about them, and generally give them the opportunity to create conversation. For example, I’ll tweet, “Thanks for the follow, @ username! I am totally loving your XYZ necklace! I’m a huge fan of artisan jewelry. *smiles*”
- Connect others on twitter. People have done this for me, and I love it! Other people do, too. A great intro could be, “Two amazing ladies who need to meet: @username and @username2. Both are AMAZING artists!” Again, putting the @s inside the tweet make this intro available to everyone following your tweet stream, making the intro that much more powerful.
- I’m not a big fan of round-the-clock tweet-reading, so I recommend a few tools to keep track of what’s being said, so that you can keep up with conversations on twitter. Two of my favorites are:
- SocialOomph – allows scheduled tweets, RSS Feed-to-tweet, watches for keywords, tweet queues for multiple tweets over a period of time), and more; and
- Twepe – Brings DMs, @ mentions and tweet digests to email. Will give follower counts, new followers, lost followers, list adds, and will also digest tweets from each of your lists as well and your main tweet stream.
Love it or hate it, Facebook is here to stay. It’s known as primarily a CtoC and BtoC networking hotspot, and it is. However, Facebook is an excellent way to promote your Peer Networking efforts as well, especially with the new Pages, which allow you to post on walls as your Page now, rather than as an individual.
Aside from that, I feel that one of Facebook’s most powerful features for Peer Networking is the ability to tie your RSS feed into your Facebook Page feed. I like to use the Facebook app http://www.facebook.com/RSS.Graffiti (although Social Oomph will also do RSS-to-Facebook-Feeds), because it allows some finely-tuned setting in when you want the feed to start (for example), which can be very helpful if, like me, you have multiple feeds with different topics from your site.
For example, that weekly question I mentioned above? I have a new feed each week for the replies. I run these feeds through my Facebook page with different static text introducing it.
The best thing about having multiple feeds and tying them into your Facebook page is that it is another way to promote the other experts in your Peer Network, by using their name, a link to their posts and comments on your site, etc.
Even better, it does double duty by also increasing your consumer followers, promoting engagement, and you’ll find your Peer Network promoting you (and their posts on your Facebook Page) more as well.
Peer Networking Gets Results
Peer Networking is not difficult, just like social networking in general is not difficult. Just as in any networking, the key is to be consistent and committed. In Peer Networking, the commitment is not just in actually showing up, but in also finding as many ways as possible to help promote your Peer Network through your social media channels.
With commitment and consistency, and an eye towards how you can help others while helping yourself, your Peer Network can grow, and your consumer network can also grow exponentially! Here are a few examples:
- In 5 months, my site went from 280 visitors per week to that many visitors (and more) on a single article per day!
- We now have between 50-200 incoming visitors per day from other sites linking to us.
- Five Facebook pages I administer have grown by 18-39% in two weeks (after being live for more than 3 months each). Interactions have gone up by 26 – 42%.
- I have a list of nearly 200 Peer in fashion and style that I turn to each week to answer a question, to offer guest posts, giveaways and more.
I’m the first to admit, I am not a networking fiend. I don’t spend more than 15 minutes a day on these efforts, but they have paid off in so many ways. Even better, I’ve seen similar (and often better) results for those I share these simple tricks with.
There you have it. It’s that simple. Why not try it out? Add a few minutes of Peer Networking to your daily media marketing, and I bet you’ll see results! *smiles*
Heather Claus is the reclusive extrovert of the internet. She’s been online, working behind the scenes for herself and clients since 1995. You can find Heather online at http://www.365DaysofEverything.com.