IMG_5725All of our lives, we’ve had our peeps … the group of friends who have been with us through thick and thin. We share stories, opinions and experiences with our friends. They are our biggest promoters, and we in turn are theirs.

Technology has opened up new ways to share and be social with our friends. It’s also opened up new ways to make friends. Do you know the best ways to make friends in the digital realm and increase your “popularity?” Andy Crestodina, co-founder and strategic director of Orbit Media Studios, shared his experience at the BMA Chicago Breakfast on November 18. It was a content-rich session loaded with insights and ideas, so buckle in, get that cup of joe and off we go …

First, there are two types of social media — content promotion and online networking. These intersect, of course. You can find new friends by networking with the people who promote the content that already attracts the audience you are trying to reach. It’s not hard to find them — just follow the content. Journalists, authors, podcasters, and academic researchers are among the most prolific (that’s a fancy way of saying … they have the most digital friends, so hang out with them). Andy shared his recommended formula to find and engage these social magnets.

Start by finding those you should connect with. An easy way to begin is to leverage analytics tools like followerwonk.com. Build a list of key influencers, and then build a relationship with them. Andy shared his six-part formula for making friends in the digital world:

  • Part one: LISTEN
    • Subscribe to their blog by feed / email
    • Use Talkwalker, Newsle and Brand24
    • Google+: Add to Circle
    • Twitter: Follow and add to a “radar” list
  • Part two: ENGAGE
    • Favorite their tweets
    • +1 their posts
    • Like their comments on other blogs
    • Comment on their blog (great way to get their attention)
  • Part three: CONNECT
    • Connect on LinkedIn
    • Like LinkedIn posts, mention them
    • Endorse on LinkedIn
    • Write a recommendation on LinkedIn
    • Send friend request on Facebook
    • Like Facebook posts, mention them
  • Part four: GO THE EXTRA MILE
    • Follow on Quora, Medium, Instagram, Yelp, MeetUp, Storify, Listly, etc.
    • Follow on apps like Spotify, Runkeeper, FitBit, etc.
    • Review their podcast on iTunes
    • Review their book on Amazon
  • Part five: COLLABORATE
    • Mention them in your content
    • Get a contributor quote
    • Include them in an expert roundup
    • Deep-dive interview
    • Andy wisdom: Good marketers publish posts … great marketers publish series
  • Part six: FRIENDSHIP!
    • Phone call, Skype or Google+ Hangout
    • Face-to-face meeting
    • Mastermind group
    • Hand-written thank-you note

So now you’ve got some new friends and access to a lot more content to leverage. Now the question is … how do you discern the value of all the new content? Becoming an influencer is not about “dumping” links. Any given link does not necessarily add credibility to your website. Links from credible sites transfer more credibility to you.

Which topics have an SEO advantage? Search the topics that rank highly in Google. Topics that get shared the most, linked to the most and talked about the most are the first place to start. Selecting the right topic and working with the right collaborators will provide you the most value.

Andy wrapped up by sharing his perspective on social scheduling. When sharing your own content, share multiple times. When sharing industry content, auto-schedule so that it is shared during busy social times of the day — for example, did you know the best time of day to post on social media is 10:58 a.m. or 11:02 a.m. CT? Share when your audience is active and use every trick in the book — headline, secondary headline, special characters, numbers, hashtags, line breaks, image, link!

Want more? Check out Andy’s blog post, “Online Networking Guide: 35 Ways to Connect with Anyone Through Social Media.