We’ve all met them, at parties, weddings, reunions, even on railway platforms: professional bores. The sort of people who don’t participate in a conversation until they see an opportunity to talk about themselves, maybe even leave their business card behind with a total stranger. Nobody likes those people in the offline world, and no one much cares for the online.
But that’s exactly the kind of behavior that the traditional approach to link-building fosters. Looking for sites that relate to your subject matter, trawling the site for contact details and then getting in touch with a request for linkage. Even if you’re offering a reciprocal deal, it’s still asking a lot of any online influencer.
To understand this, you need to consider the nature of online influence. While large corporations and well-known experts can transfer their influence online, the new breed of online influencers earn their clout in the social arena. They do this by consistently sharing great content and by participating enthusiastically and meaningfully in the larger online conversation, on blogs, discussion forums and social networking sites. They have earned the attention of the online public by proving themselves to be useful, informative, entertaining, reliable members of the online ecosystem. When they share a link, their audience clicks – but only as long as they retain their credibility.
So here’s the new mantra for getting online links: don’t ask for links. Look for friends!
So here’s the new mantra for getting online links: don’t ask for links. Look
- In less glib terms, this means taking the time to find influencers
in your subject matter. You don’t need to go further than a Google search
to do this; just type in each of your keywords and look for top blogs, discussions
- Follow these influencers; literally follow them on Twitter, friend
them on Facebook and LinkedIn, subscribe to their blog’s RSS feed. Engage
with them through comments, retweets and so on. Be a part of the conversation
they’re curating; don’t jump in selling yourself.
- Once you understand their tastes and their audience’s create content
that relates to your offering and is relevant, useful and attractive. You
really need to take the time to connect with them to get this right.
- Then, tell them about your contribution using whichever channel
or channels you regularly communicate with them through. Leave the rest to
the quality of your content and the social goodwill you’ve accrued over time.
These methods are a little more time and effort intensive. But they make more sense for you. They help you build relationships that can be leveraged for more than just the occasional link-back – you can get bloggers to participate in online campaigns, for instance. It gives you a pipeline to what your audience likes and wants, helping you fine-tune both your offering and your content. And great content is the heart of successful online marketing! It humanizes your online presence – a great advantage in a social arena. It makes the links that you earn more authentic and it is independent of platforms and search engine developments – wherever the traffic and focus goes, you can go there and use the same tactics to further your strategy.
Best of all, you won’t be that boring character demanding everyone’s attention. You’ll be an engaged, trusted part of the community reaching out with a great new contribution to an established audience.