“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. I’m still deciding how much merit this saying has as I grow professionally, but the fact remains that it doesn’t hurt to have friends in the right places. Any marketing campaign, link request or blogger outreach comes easier when you know someone. With that in mind, I would like to ask you the following question.
If you’ve only ‘met’ someone through social media and not in person, do you feel like you know them?
Let me explain why I’m asking this and see if your answer is the same after reading this post. This question came to me when I started using a service online called Klout. In the about page of Klout, they refer to themselves as “the standard for influence” claiming to measure how many people you truly reach through social networks and how much of an impact you have on them. It’s a great idea on the surface and definitely fun to use when competing against coworkers and friends. “Hey you only have a Klout score of 35? Ha! I’m a 45, what do you think about that?”
Well, what should we think about that? Diving a little deeper into Klout I found that retweets of your Twitter activity, likes of your status updates on Facebook and other interaction with your social profiles amplify your score. Is this really measuring my influence in my ‘network’? Well maybe it is in my social circles to some extent, but what use is that to me when I’m trying to make a sale or reaching out to someone to link to my blog? Can I email someone I’ve never met and say “Hey it would be great for you to link to my site because I have a Klout score of 45.”? Maybe I can but I’m not sure if anyone would care.
Conversion Rates for Social Media vs. Face to Face
Klout aside, I’ve found it way more difficult to convince someone I only know through Twitter or Facebook to do anything for me that requires more than 10 seconds of their time. Sure you can get someone to repost something if you ask, but what is the ratio of yes’s to no’s? I’ll bet that you have a much better ratio with people you’ve met in person. Now let’s say you want something that requires them to spend money. How much harder did the task become for your social circle compared to your actual contacts you’ve met? My guess is a lot.
My Little Experiment
Taking this point to heart, about a year ago I started to try and merge my two circles in an effort to truly have a greater reach. For starters, if I met someone in person I always asked them what their Twitter handle was or how I could reach out to them online and not just through email. On the flip side, I started organizing small events that invited people I only knew online to get together and network. For example, I started a group that met on Saturdays at a farmers’ market to try new items by local food trucks. The owners of the trucks would come out and present their food to us. It was a great opportunity to meet these people I tweeted at every day and get to know them on a more personal level.
From these weekly meetings, I had one person recommend me to a local newspaper rep that eventually published one of my blog posts and gave me tons of traffic. I also increased comments on my blog and even got one member to start taking photos for me that I used in other posts. I firmly believe that if I had reached out to this same group asking for photos, comments and references without ever having met them, I wouldn’t have been nearly as successful.
Imagine how easy it would be to do a blogger outreach campaign now if your contact list was filled with people you’ve had lunch with weekly! That yes to no ratio I mentioned earlier would be looking pretty good right about now. It was this exact thought that led me to start doing more and more networking in person, but the best part was that it was easy to socialize since we had already talked to each other online. From there on out, even though I couldn’t meet every person I ever reached out to, I had an easier time getting feedback and my marketing campaigns were more effective.
Going back to my original question, whether you answered yes or no doesn’t matter. Trick question! Sorry but it doesn’t. What matters is if they feel like they know you. If they are comfortable with you or what you represent, then you are way more likely to get that link back or grab a guest blog post. Build that trust however you can but just the fact you are will draw more people to your site or profile and make things easier in the long run. You don’t have to meet everyone in person, but it doesn’t hurt to start trying.
P.S. If you have a Klout score over 70, then ignore this post because you’ve already won the internet.