15 Social Media Tactics to Promote Your Upcoming Theatrical Show

We just finished the 10-day festival of independent theatre and weirdness known as the Indianapolis Fringe Theatre Festival, and I had a chance to see a few shows, including a couple of old favorites.

I also had a chance to talk social media — because I’m an annoying geek that way — with a couple performers, and decided to write a blog post based on what I told a couple of them.

Didi Panache and Wayburn Sassy of the Screw You Revue

Didi Panache and Wayburn Sassy of the Screw You Revue

This post is written for any musician or performer, especially the independent theatrical types who depend on ticket sales to make their living. For some of these performers, they bounce from festival to festival and make a good portion of their income from their take. Some even use one festival to pay for the next one.

This is a strategy they can use to improve their take next year.

What You’ll Need

  • A laptop computer
  • A digital camera with video capabilities. If not, your laptop’s camera will do.
  • A Twitter account.
  • A blog (WordPress.com or Blogger.com are great free platforms, as is Posterous.com and Tumblr.com)
  • A YouTube account.
  • A Facebook page. (This is different from a personal profile. You want an Artist’s page.)

What You’ll Do

These are in a general chronological order, but not in a do-one-then-the-next lockstep order. I’m using the Indianapolis Fringe (#IndyFringe) as an example, but this will work for any concert, performance, show, or festival.

 

  • First, make sure your Twitter bio includes a line about the name of your show, or your most famous character’s name. If you only performed in one festival, put the name of that in the bio too. “You may have seen me at the #IndyFringe Festival!” You can always change your bio, especially as you move from festival to festival, or follow specific groups of people.
  • Start following people on Twitter. People will follow you back, especially once they see that you’re a performer at the festival they went to, and even moreso if they were at your show. To find people who were at the festival, do these steps:

 

  • Go to FollowBlast.com and do a search for #indyfringe, and follow anyone using that term. Keep in mind that these hashtags only work for about 30 minutes, so it’s actually a good idea to access this site while you’ve got some downtime at next year’s show.
  • Build a hashtag archive at TwapperKeeper.com. I’m still trying this out, but I’m hoping it will collect old hashtags, unlike FollowBlast.com. However, it only goes back 7 – 10 days, and back for 1,500 tweets. It will then go forward and continue to save tweets. You should set this up before your next festival starts. Work in conjunction with the festival organizers, because they may want to use your archive as well. Also, before you start, search to see if anyone else set up an archive before you so you don’t duplicate efforts.
  • Go to search.twitter.com as another way to search for #hashtags. Put in #indyfringe and see what you can find. Search results are somewhat limited, but you may be able to find older tweets that FollowBlast and Twapper Keeper couldn’t, especially if you’re seeing this now, and are scrambling to recover those old tweets.
  • If all else fails, try Topsy. It’s not 100% accurate, but it gives you more than you might get if you’re looking for a festival that ended three weeks ago.

 

  • Check out the festival organizer’s Twitter page and follow everyone they follow (not everyone who follows them). If they have been good Twitter stewards, they have vetted the people they’re following. Those people will include other performers, supporters, festival-goers, and other people in the industry or festival business. (This last group could be a good connection to getting into other festivals!) Do this with any festivals you plan on going to next year as well.
  • Use Twellow.com and Twellowhood.com as a way to find other people who are in the cities where you’ll be next year.
  • Why You’ll Do It

    Okay so far? You’ve built your Twitter list for a very important reason: Promoting stuff! You’re going to promote next year’s show through videos, your blog, and even email newsletters. Here’s how.

    Zan Aufderheide of Welcome to Zanland

    Zan Aufderheide of Welcome to Zanland

    • Now you need your camera. Start shooting some short videos. Update us on what you’re doing, where you’ll be, thoughts on stuff you did this year. Treat it like a diary. If you’re an actor playing a part, do it in character, especially if that character is going to be back at the festivals next year. Shoot the videos in character, or tell some jokes, or give people a preview of what you’ve been working on. Shoot some rehearsals, some special messages to individuals, or perform a new song.
    • Post those on YouTube.com (make them public), and make sure you fill out all the details, like Title, Description, etc. (all this stuff is indexed by Google, which makes your videos found more easily by people searching for you or the festival).
    • Share these videos on Twitter and your Facebook page, and post them to your blog (do the same with any photos you take). This will accomplish a lot of pre-show promo before you ever set foot in the city. And if you can get people buzzing about the show before you start, you’ll be selling out more shows.

    You can get a Flip camera for as low as $170 now, and if you think that’s still high, use the money you were going to spend on fancy-schmancy postcards and spend it on the camera instead. The postcards are immediately dated once the festival ends, and you can’t reuse them. The video camera will pay for itself with all the videos you shoot and the postcards you don’t buy.

    Finally, there are a few things you want to do next year, to get ready for the next off-season.

      • Build a mailing list of all your attendees. Send around a clipboard before your show begins, or have them sign up before they leave. Ask people for their HOME email, not their work email — especially if your show is laden with profanities and cross-dressers. Guard this with your life. Promise to never, ever spam them. Use it only for newsletters and occasional social media communication.
      • Load that list into a Gmail account (here’s why you should use Gmail), and then either use the Rapportive.com Gmail plugin, or upload the email list to Gist.com, to start finding where your list members can be found on the different social media networks. Follow them on Twitter, and connect with them on Facebook.
      • Send out an occasional newsletter — no more than once a month — and email it to them. Let them know what you’re working on for next year so they get excited about your upcoming visit. Give them an opportunity to unsubscribe, but try to give them useful information so they won’t want to.
      • Use your video camera to shoot post-show testimonials and get them up on your blog as soon as a show ends. Tweet the new blog posts to your Twitter network during the show, so you can continue to remind people you’re there and you’ve got an awesome show. Ask your Twitter network to retweet your show information, so they can help you spread the word.

    There is so much more you can do with social media. Believe it or not, this is just scratching the surface of what can be done. But while it seems overwhelming, keep in mind two things:

        1. This will get easier as you do it more often.
        2. It beats the hell out of busking and handing out postcards in 90 degree heat.

    Photo credit: Erik Deckers

 

Three Secrets to Make Your Video Go Viral – A Warning to Corporations

I’ve been digging into a lot of social media case studies lately, especially those that involve a little guy going up against a large corporation and winning the battle of public sentiment. A lot of these studies involve videos, and I think I’ve figured out the secrets to why they’re going viral, and why large companies need to watch out for these situations.

One of the most memorable videos is Dave Carroll’s “United Breaks Guitars,” which he released after United Airlines mishandled his $3,000 Taylor guitar. Carroll released a song and video about his efforts in filing a claim against United and all the hoops he jumped through for a year before anyone would even listen to him.

Ten million views and three videos later, Dave not only got his satisfaction from United, but Taylor guitars gave him two new guitars. His efforts also netted enough negative press against United to give an entire PR department heart failure.

Other videos have had similar success getting the attention of the corporate giants, and getting them to take notice and fix their problem. The same is true with blogs, tweets, and other times people have gotten punked by . And I’ve identified a few things they have in common.

    • Viral videos are not straightforward rants. There needs to be an unusual hook, or something that makes it different/better than someone staring at the camera and talking about their complaint or issue. That’s why videos that involve music or acting gain a lot more traction than that talking head video you wanted to do.
    • Viral videos include something humorous. Dave Carroll’s video was musical and funny. Other complaint videos are also funny, or have a humorous element to them. People love to be entertained, and anything that’s humorous will gain more attention than something that’s serious. (Of course, this doesn’t work about serious issues — just ask Groupon — so choose your humor carefully. And if you have to resort to humor that is guaranteed to offend part of your audience, don’t use it. You don’t want your audience hating you.)
    • Viral complaint videos are always about David going up against Goliath. This is the big secret. I have yet to see a viral complaint video about two Davids fighting it out, or two Goliaths duking it out. It’s always the little guy going up against the big guy. Whether it’s Dave Carroll (a real David) fighting against the uncaring, careless United Airlines, or Dooce complaining about her Maytag (not a video, but a great example of the little guy fighting the big guy), people always cheer for the little guy. If there’s any indication that the big guy is screwing someone, we’ll watch the video, read the blog post, and retweet the tweet in order to help get the word out about the “epic struggle.”

This last point is what corporations need to beware of. All it takes is one irate customer with some creativity and a Flip camera to make your PR people sweat blood trying to overcome the tens of thousands of views of that video and subsequent complaints, plus any negative press that came about from their video. Dave Carroll’s epic struggle was picked up by the global press, making sure the United name got plenty of mentions in the press.

Even for companies who don’t want to be on social media, they need to at least have a presence so they can monitor customer complaints. They shouldn’t be caught off guard by videos, because they’re already behind the 8-ball when it comes to social media. The little guy is ready to complain about the big guy, and everyone else is ready to support them and carry their torch for them.

Five Reasons to Use Posterous as a Social Media Distribution Point

I’ve been enjoying playing with Posterous for about a year now, and while I don’t recommend it for everyone, it can be a great tool for some people. You should consider using Posterous if you are a:

  • Beginning blogger
  • Social media specialist
  • Mobile blogger
  • Crisis communicator

Posterous is an email submission blog. You send your post as an email to your own Posterous.com address, treat the subject line as the headline, and any attachments you send are incorporated into the post itself. It’s not pretty at times, but if you need something fast, this is it. Plus, you can go in and edit stuff to make it look better later.

Posterous.com Screenshot

My Posterous.com blog

I’ve often said, “Using a blog interface is a lot like sending an email.” Now, thanks to Posterous, it really is sending an email.

Here are five reasons to use Posterous as a blog platform and social media distribution point:

  1. It’s ideal for mobile phone users. If you’re constantly on the go, and want to blog about the things you see, Posterous allows you to upload photos or videos to your site, along with any accompanying text. Posterous takes advantage of the overall computing power of today’s mobile phones. When I need to demonstrate Posterous during a talk, a few minutes before I go on, I’ll snap a picture of the gathering audience on my mobile phone, attach it to an email, and type in a couple of lines. Before my talk begins, I tell the audience, “I’m going to hit send on this email right now. You’ll see why it’s important in 10 minutes.” Then, when I get to that point in my talk, I show them my Posterous page, which has the picture of them. If you’re a crisis communicator or a mobile blogger, this is an ideal tool for communicating with the public on the fly.
  2. Posterous will automatically send videos and photos to other sites. I have tied my Flickr, Picasa, and YouTube accounts to my Posterous account; it also sends videos to Vimeo. Whenever I take photos or videos, and send them to Posterous, they are automatically uploaded to the appropriate networks. I don’t have to upload them first, and then download the embed code. The downside for anyone who is concerned about search engine optimization is that your digital properties are on Posterous, not on YouTube or Flickr, so you lose any search engine juice that would normally come from a well-optimized video or photo that links to your site. There are workarounds for this, but they take some extra time after your post has been uploaded. If you’re a social media specialist, you’ll love this feature.
  3. Posterous will automatically repopulate content to other blog platforms. You can tell Posterous to re-send your content on to your WordPress, Blogger, Drupal, TypePad, LiveJournal, Xanga, or Tumblr site. Publish a post on Posterous, republish it on your “official” blog. Yes, there are plugins and apps that let you email your posts in to these platforms, but they won’t necessarily upload your video and photos to YouTube and Flickr. Again, crisis communicators or mobile bloggers who need to get information out to several networks will love this feature.
  4. Tell Posterous NOT to post to certain networks. The default setting for Posterous is to repost everything to every network you want it to (i.e. email my post to post@posterous.com. But what if you have a photo you don’t want to send to Flickr, or you don’t want a post to show up on your WordPress blog? By using a specific email address — for example facebook+youtube+blog+twitter@posterous.com — I can tell Posterous to post to my different properties, but leave out a specific network. In this example, I’m leaving out Flickr.
  5. Posterous can automatically notify Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz, etc. about new blog posts. Tie your Posterous blog into your different social networks, and notify your followers when a new post is up.

5 Photo & Video Sharing Sites Travel Destinations Should Use

Yesterday, I talked about the 5 Reasons Why Travel & Tourism Destinations Need Social Media, and how social media is being used by more and more people than you may have realized.

Social media helps people share news about their lives with their friends and family. Not only are they telling people they went on vacation, they’re able to show them where they went, what they did, and all the good times they had. They’re especially doing it on the photo and video sharing sites. Here are fives sites you should use to promote your own travel and tourism destination.

YouTube (VIDEO)

What it is: This is the website everyone knows when it comes to video sharing. According to one source, there are 1,500 years worth of videos on YouTube right now. But that’s because they make it so easy.
Get started:Go to YouTube.com and set up your account. If you already have a Google account of some sort (Gmail, iGoogle, Google Docs), you already have an account, because Google owns YouTube. Start finding other friends and guests by importing your email address book. Then follow the instructions to upload your videos.
Strategy: Encourage guests to upload their own videos and tag your destination in it. (This helps you get found for any searches on YouTube.) Upload your own videos (regular or HD) and embed them in your blog or link to your Facebook account.

Vimeo (VIDEO)

What it is: Vimeo is another video sharing site that’s not nearly as big as YouTube. The benefit to you is that you get to be a bigger fish in a bigger pond. According to their website, it was originally “. . . created by filmmakers and video creators who wanted to share their creative work, along with intimate personal moments of their everyday life,” so there tends to be more of an artsy feel to it, but you’re not limited to only being a filmmaker or artist.
Get started: Go to Vimeo.com and set up an account. Import your email address book (Google or Yahoo), and make connections with your guests.
Strategy: Same as Facebook. If your guests use Vimeo, encourage them to upload videos and tag your destination in it. Upload your regular and HD videos, and then use the embed code to place them in your blog or link to your Facebook account.

Flickr

What it is: Flickr is one of the two most popular photo sharing sites. In fact, by strict definition, it’s a social network centered around photo sharing (actually, all the video and photo sharing tools are considered social networks). You upload your photos and share them with your friends, embed them in blog posts, and link to them in Twitter messages.(Note: Flickr has begun accepting 90 second videos for uploading. While they won’t give YouTube a run for their money, they are making it easier for Flickr fans to keep their video in one place too.)
Get started: If you already have a Yahoo account, you have a Flickr account. Otherwise, sign up, import your email address book, and then start uploading photos. If you have an iPhone or Android, you can also upload photos directly to Flickr from your phone. There is also a digital camera storage card called the Eye-Fi that will not only store your photos, but upload them whenever you’re in a wifi hotspot.
Strategy: Hold a best photo contest and encourage guests to upload the photos to Flickr and Picasa (next section), and then embed the photos in the comments section of your website or your Facebook page.. Post the entries to your website, and allow voting for the best photo (use SurveyMonkey.com). Use the best photo(s) on your promotional materials. Also, consider using a Creative Commons license with your photos (this lets other people use your photos as long as they give you credit), and let them use photos that link back to your Flickr page.

Picasa

What it is: Another photo sharing site, but this one is owned by Google. I like Picasa a little more because it’s easier to integrate with a Blogger blog, plus they have different paid subscription levels. You can get 20GB for $5, or 200GB for $50.
Get started: If you have a Gmail account or a YouTube account, you’re all set. Otherwise, go to picasaweb.google.com Next, go to Picasa.com and download the Photo Uploader. This will let you upload photos in batches, rather than a few at a time.
Strategy: First, don’t worry about whether you can upload videos to Picasa, because you can also use YouTube. (Remember, they’re both owned by Google.) Next, just like with Flickr, hold a photo contest, and use the best photos in your promotional material. And consider using a Creative Commons license with your Picasa photos.

Facebook

What it is: The biggest social network in the world. We talked about it previously.
Get started: Hopefully you already started a Facebook account, but if not, go to Facebook.com and start an account. Get comfortable with it and then start a business page (what they used to call a “Fan Page”) for your own business. Invite friends to “Like” your business page, and do it more than once (people need reminding).
Strategy: While this won’t be the hub of your social media campaign, it needs to be a major part of it. Facebook will have more of your guests and customers on it than any other social network. This is where you need to push a lot of your marketing message, which will drive people back to your main website or blog.

Where should you start?

While there is a chicken and egg question about whether you should join social networks first or start with photo and video sites, it ultimately doesn’t matter. It will take a few days to get everything ramped up. Focus on one video site and one photo site. Pick the one you like the best, and the one that is easiest to use, and just start using it.

At the same time, pick the social network you want to start on (I recommend Facebook, since that’s where everyone is), and work on that one as well. You’ll ultimately spend more time on Facebook than you will on your photo and video sites, so consider these sites as supporting sites for your social network.

Six Secrets to Automating Your Social Media Communication

How can you make your social media communication easier? Are there any tips or tricks to use to reduce some of the heavy lifting you have to do just to get your messages out to the public?

Since I do social media communication, for myself and for clients, I use several shortcuts to automate a lot of what I do. Rather than posting a blog, and then posting the headline and URL to Twitter, then over at Facebook, and again at LinkedIn, I try to do it in one step. Or rather than uploading photos and videos to Flickr, Picasa, and YouTube, and then uploading them to a blog post to share them, I’m able to do it all at once.

I wrote this for Martin Earley, who is the new Inn-Bedded Resorter at The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire. I was one of five finalists, and got to meet Martin during our stay there. I think he was a great choice, and I know he’ll have a good time. But he also has to report what he’s doing via social media, which can be difficult if you’re trying to post content to both your site and a work site, so I offered him some tips to make his work easier. As I started writing them out, I decided it would be just as easy to put it into a blog post.

Here are a few of the tricks and tools I use to make my life a whole lot easier:

  1. Bit.ly: We’ll start with this ubiquitous URL shortener, because it will figure into nearly everything we do. Set up a bit.ly account, and then put your API key somewhere easy to find. (It can be a pain to go back to bit.ly to find it each time you need it.) Learn how to use it, and figure out their analytics section.
  2. TwitterFeed.com: Twitterfeed will visit your blog once every 30 minutes – 24 hours to see if you have anything new. Once you have a new blog post up, Twitterfeed will scoop up your headline and the URL, shorten it with bit.ly (see? We’re using it already), and then send it out to your Twitter feed and Facebook status updates.
  3. Ping.fm:You can expand TwitterFeed’s reach by sending your feed to Ping.fm, instead of Twitter. Not only can you send your new blog posts to Twitter and Facebook, but to MySpace, LinkedIn, FriendFeed, and even your Ning networks. Plus you can go to Ping.fm and directly post medium-length messages to Blogger, WordPress, and TypePad.WARNING! Do NOT set up Ping.fm to post something TO your blog if you already set up a Twitterfeed-Ping combination FROM your blog. This will create an infinite loop, which will tear a hole in the space-time continuum. This could be bad.
  4. Posterous.com:I’ve been playing with Posterous for a few months now, and really like it. It’s an email submission blog platform. Basically, you email your blog posts to your Posterous account, and it will post it for you. Your subject line is the headline, the email message is the body copy, and any photos you attach will be placed within the message. Then, you can notify your networks, just like Ping.fm, including populating your other blogs with your Posterous content, and even using bit.ly to shorten your URLs.Now, I know Blogger and WordPress both do this, but Posterous does something that the others won’t do: if you upload photos, Posterous will also send them to your Flickr and/or Picasa accounts. Upload a video, and Posterous will send it to your YouTube account.

    So, if you take some photos on your cell phone, attach them to an email, and send them to Posterous, you can send them to any special photo accounts, as well as populate your other blog feeds, which are then sent out to your Twitter, Facebook, etc.

  5. ScribeFire: This is a great blog editor that you use directly inside Firefox. Instead of going to your blog and logging in, you can open it up in Firefox, write your post, and hit upload. Rather than using a web-based interface, you can use an interface right on your computer. Both ScribeFire and Posterous are great if you have a slow Internet connection. (MacJournal is another program I’ve tried. There are Windows-based programs that do this as well.)
  6. TweetDeck: I use TweetDeck on my laptop for my Twitter communication. And when that’s all it did, it was awesome. But now TweetDeck is even awesomer, because whenever I send out a tweet, I can also send it as both a Facebook and LinkedIn update. I can also schedule tweets to take place at odd times — 1:53, 10:27 — instead of the every-5-minute intervals HootSuite limits you to. And best of all, it uses bit.ly as its default URL shortener. I can even pop a URL into TweetDeck, shorten it, and then cut it to use somewhere else. But the URL still gets pushed over to bit.y’s website where it gets included in the analytics.

While I don’t recommend automating everything you do in social media, like message creating, it’s at least a great way to lighten your load and make your life easier.

Photo credit: genewolf (Flickr)

7 Ways to Use Blogging to Promote Events

We’ve often used blogging to promote special events for ourselves and our clients. I’m even a blogger for VisitIndiana, the website and blog for Indiana Tourism, our state government’s tourism department.

    1. Pre-event promotion: This is the one thing most people think of. But don’t limit yourself to a single blog post about the event coming up. Tie every blog post into your event. Blog about topics that tie into the event. For example, if you sell tradeshow displays, talk about the upcoming social media and tradeshow marketing panel discussion you’re going to host on June 9 at the Hilton Garden Inn. (By the way, I’m speaking at a panel discussion on social media and tradeshow marketing on June 9 for Skyline Exhibits – Indianapolis).

  1. Live blogging: This can be challenging, but it can also be fun, because it draws people into the energy of the event, especially if they’re not able to attend with you. I have live blogged at two sporting events. One was the 2009 Indianapolis 500. I had also spent several days in May on the track, blogging about different things I saw, which helped build up my readership for the big day. I also live-blogged from an Indiana Fever game, which I will never do again. As I was writing about a play, something cool would happen, and I would miss it. Now I just tweet the highlights and enjoy the game. The easiest way to do live blogging is to use the Email to Post feature on WordPress or Blogger, or set up a blog at Posterous.com. I especially like Posterous, because I can attach photos and they’ll automatically be placed into each post.
  2. Post-event wrap-up: You want to remind people of the good time they had, or tell them about the good time they missed so they’ll be sure to come back next year. Use this time to talk about what worked well, what could have been better, funny stories, traditions you might start, and photos of the great time people had. Ask attendees for suggestions about what they would like to see changed or kept the same.
  3. Photo blogging: Set up some slideshows on Flickr or Picasa, and paste the embed code into a blog post. You can show photos you’ve already taken, or embed the code early, and then add photos as you take them, which will expand the slideshow. This is especially great for live blogging. Just use a photo uploader on your smart phone, get an EyeFi card for your digital camera, or make sure you have a way to quickly download photos from your camera and then upload them to your photo sharing site. You will need to do some tweaking on your account, but you can start sharing the photos right away.
  4. Video blogging: The same techniques and ideas that you can use for photo blogging work for video blogging. I’m not talking about producing pre-written and edited videos. Rather, take some videos and upload them via your smart phone’s uploader, or YouTube. Take some quick interviews of event attendees, show some speakers/music/events/games, and post them as quick as you can. I especially like Posterous.com for photo and video blogging, because you can set up your account to automatically forward all photos and videos to their respective services when you email them to Posterous.
  5. Get other bloggers: Ask other people to blog about your event in all three stages, pre, during, and post. Give them free admission or tickets to come to your event and write about it. You want to find bloggers in that niche or industry, but don’t limit yourself to only finding the most popular ones. The ones who don’t have a lot of readers can still be valuable. For one thing, they’re reaching a group of people that the bigger bloggers might not. For another, any links they make back to your website help your search engine optimization (see #7), which makes it easier for people to find your event for next year.
  6. It’s all for Search Engine Optimization: It doesn’t matter if you got a lot of people to read about your event this year, or if only a few dozen people were following your blog at the time of the event. All this blogging does one additional thing for you: it builds your content out for search engine placement. If you’re going to hold your event next year, all the work you did this year will help you rank higher on the search engines for next year. This is true whether you’re hosting your own event, or whether you’re participating in someone else’s event. For example, if you’re taking photos, videos, and blogging about your participating at an arts festival, you’ll be one of the first names to pop up when people start searching for it again for next year.

Just remember, blogging is for the long haul too, not a just quick burst of publicity. It’s the marathon, not the spring. But it doesn’t hurt to have a fast start to get out in front of your competition either.

Photo credit: MattIndy77 (Flickr)

Are You a Pioneer or a Settler?

Are you a pioneer or a settler? Do you blaze trails, follow them while they’re still rough, or wait until there’s a nicely paved road?

Being a settler is easy. You just tread down the same old path everyone else has, making sure it’s safe. But being a pioneer is tough. You’re the first to pass this way, you’re not sure if you’re heading in the right direction, and some days you’d swear you’re going the wrong way. But the rewards are well worth it.

So how do you pioneer your new niche? How do you become a leader in your field, especially when there is no niche, or the people in it are not connected? In this case, it’s actually easier to be the pioneer, rather than to be one of many. By the time the settlers are finally getting involved, there’s a traffic jam on the road the pioneers have paved. But by this time, you’ll be way ahead of the pack.

Becoming a Pioneer

Here are a few tools and techniques you can use to establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field. Before you start, make sure you have identified your niche, know who the players are, and actually have some content on your blog or website.

  • Find your flock. Use NearbyTweets.com, Twitterment.com, and Twitter Search to locate them and start following them. Avoid those “get 2,000 followers per day” spam programs, and earn your followers the honest way.
  • Talk to strangers. Read and comment on the blogs of other people in your industry. If there aren’t any, find logical allies to your industry. If you manufacture marbles, and you’re the only marble manufacturing blog out there, find marble collectors and marble players. Leave comments on their blogs and respond when they leave comments on yours. Not only do you build up some link juice, you create relationships with potential customers.
  • Share knowledge. If you find articles that would be of interest to your audience, share it with them on Twitter and your blog. Write commentary about the articles on the blog, and share those as well. If you can become a source of knowledge, people will look to you for answers.
  • Consider video. Gary Vaynerchuk of WineLibrary.tv and the author of Crush It, has built a social media footprint like an elephant’s by using video to sell and promote wine. Do video posts of you sitting at your desk, pontificating about industry goings-on. Publish excerpts of you speaking at conferences and events (this is also useful if you’re trying to build a speaking career).
  • Build your contact list. As you meet new people, keep your contacts organized in Gmail. If you use Outlook, sync it up with Gmail and keep that list fresh. Gmail is the go-to contact list by every social networking tool out there. Want to find friends on Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube? They’ll import your Gmail contact list with no problem.

These are just a very few steps to get yourself started finding your niche. I haven’t even touched on LinkedIn or creating an industry-related social network yourself. But these are enough steps to get you started.

What other tools and steps do you recommend? Leave a comment, and we’ll try to feature it in a future blog post.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons