In our previous post, Aim to Influence on Social Media, we explored what you can do with your social media community. In this post we take a look at leveraging your partners to promote your social media efforts.
Partner and Cross-Promote
Partnering is even more important and effective online than it is offline. By choosing the right strategic partners, you can leverage others’ traffic and followers and attract them to your community. You can also increase your prestige by associating with the right online leaders, creating a halo effect by borrowing their influence.
Social media is a good way to find new partners and create partnerships. In his 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, Michael A. Stelzner reported that 56 percent of those who invested 6 to 10 hours per week over a few months with social media marketing found new partnerships.
The benefits of having online partners can be great. You can multiply your efforts and mutually enhance each other’s success. You can offer a more compelling value to your community. You can benefit by associating with a partner, sharing in each other’s prestige and reputation. Perhaps more importantly, by partnering with a larger or more established online business, you can reinforce your own legitimacy and community standing.
Prospect for Partners
There are many ways to find potential partners using online media. We recommend that, after you’ve established some goals for having a partner, you use the following procedure:
- Determine the important keywords for your business
What are the first words that come to mind when you think about your business and your products? Write them down. Now put yourself in your community’s shoes. What words would they use to find you? Add them to the list. Organize the list into primary keywords — those that you think most people would associate with your product category — and long tail keywords — those that may have meaning, but are more peripheral. (Incidentally, you’ll probably want to use this list in your Search Engine Marketing (SEM) efforts.)
- Search and see who controls the keywords
Plug your primary keywords into Google. Who comes up on the first page? Assuming it’s not you, note the organizations and make a list of their names. Explore their Websites to determine how they might fit as a partner. Assign a 1 to 100 score based on their likelihood and desirability. Do the same for your long tail keywords. Then prioritize your list and use the top words in your content and to search for partners. Prioritize the resulting partner list and use it to make contacts.
- Check sponsored results
While doing your Google research, also take note of any AdWords ads you see. AdWords are those text ads that appear to the right of search results on Google. There may also be some sponsored results at the top. Evaluate the organizations behind these ads and adjust their scores.
- Create a list of the influential blogs/forums
Using your lists, search for blogs and forums that deal with your product category. You can use BlogSearch.com  or the various tools we’ve previously discussed. From the number of comments, tweets, or other measures of influence, create a list of influential bloggers and forums.
- Listen to the blogs/forums
Find out what people are saying about the organizations on your partner prospect list. If your prospects are participating, even better. You can start to engage with them on these sites. Research your prospects by finding out what social media sites they frequent.
Using this process, you’ve created a partner prospect list and been able to prioritize it. Now you can start to engage with these partners online, and draw them into a relationship. Start by commenting on their blogs or other posts and gradually introduce yourself that way.
Partner and Cross-Promote on Social Media is the 59th in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’re just past page 190. At this rate it’ll be a long time before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at bit.ly/OrderBeAPerson and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV
See the previous posts What is Social Media?, Social Sites Defined, Why Social Media? How is Social Media Relevant to Business? First Steps Toward a Social Media Strategy, and Decide What Your Business Will Do About Social Computing, pt. 1
 Stelzner’s 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report: bit.ly/JPUHwN