Here's the thing that all the social media gurus always leave out of their pitch: building an audience is tedious, time-consuming, long term and definitely not free. The same marketers who say, "You can't build it and hope they'll come" in a business context seem to contradict themselves when they endorse opening up a bunch of social accounts and blasting out content.
Don't get me wrong, social definitely has its place in today's world. For businesses, it has become a way to market products, increase sales and handle customer service. But if you don't yet have an audience, that's a lot of man-hours with precious little return on investment.
So what if you used your Twitter account (that has barely any followers) to build an audience in a totally unexpected way? What if your social media page can land you a news column or a TV interview? What if you used it to pitch journalists and influencers, thereby "borrowing" their audience while you slowly build your own?
These days, most media professionals are out there building their own personal brands on social. Which means they're now accessible in a way that was unheard of a decade ago.
Check for an email on their social media accounts.
Most of the time, the best way to send a pitch is still the good old fashioned way -- sending an email. Many influencers will put an email address right into their Twitter or Instagram profiles. You can even checked Linked-in since it's technically social media for business professionals.
If you don't see an email, don't just leave a comment like, "How can I reach you?" or "What's your contact info?" Not only is your message going to be buried beneath other people's pitches but you're also wasting their time. Instead write an amazing headline to catch their attention, and chances are they'll direct message (DM) you asking for more.
Don't pitch directly on Facebook.
For many, Facebook is reserved for their family and friends. Even if they have a public profile, they may not appreciate it if you use it for self-promotion. On top of that, unless you're already friends, your message may just wind up on their "other" inbox where it's not visible.
So what can you do? If you already follow them, build rapport by finding out what their interests are and comment intelligently on their posts. Perhaps share related articles and keep an eye out for a "why now" that's relevant to your topic. That way, you can build rapport when you reach out to them.
If you're promoting an event, make a banner for your own Facebook page with the details, so anyone who lands on your page or checks out your profile knows about it. Then when you email the journalist, you can link them back to your social media account to give them more information.
Send them a tweet
Twitter, by nature, is more geared towards news. For a journalist, it sits halfway between work and play. Just because it's more casual than email, doesn't mean you can type whatever you want. Remember tweets can be public, and even if you think it's not, you never know who might read it. You don't want the wrong thing to go viral.
Before making any pitch, do some research. Dig up what kind of articles the journalist covers. What do they specialize in? What kind of stories do they need?
Whatever you do, don't send the exact same pitch to several people. Journalists tend to know each other, and if they see you're just pitching aimlessly, they'll know they don't have exclusivity (a highly prized attribute in the press world) and might start to tune you out.
The bottom line
Think about a typical journalist. They're basically someone who has found a way to monetize their curiosity. So make sure you're playing to their strengths by hooking them with a fabulous headline or question and next thing you know, you might get your story in front of millions of new readers (and followers) without ever having to build the audience from scratch.