Start Meaningful Relationships with Influencers Using Twitter

March 2, 2016

Most influencers get hundreds—maybe even thousands—of emails every week. There’s a better way to grab the attention of an influencer. It doesn’t involve them digging through their email inbox.

I’m not saying email isn’t a great way to get in contact with influencers. It worked for Alex at Groove (after some work), and it’ll work for you.

What I’m sharing is a different way of contacting influencers using the social media platform Twitter.

We’ve spent a ton of time developing our Twitter presence. We started back in September 2015.

After only 2 months we got up to 100k impressions. The impressions are still rising!

We get over 35% of our total traffic from the site.

Contacting Influencers is Time-Consuming

Sending out emails to influencers takes time. I find an email to be a lot more formal than Twitter, and so I take more care when doing outreach.

Maybe that’s a good thing. But as my time’s stretched enough as it is, I’d rather make it short. This also makes it short for the influencers. They’re busy people too!

A quick tweet is much easier for me, and it can only be 140 characters long so it limits the number of words I can use. That’s fantastic because I don’t want to send any useless sentences. It also means they have to read less. It’s a win-win.

When it comes to starting a casual conversation with an influencer, Twitter is the best place to do it.

In this post, I’ll show you how I get in contact with influencers using Twitter. Don’t expect perfect results, though. Some people either don’t visit the site often or just outright ignore you—and that’s OK.

Ready to learn how? Let’s go! 👍

It’s Part of the Content Workflow

Even once you’ve worked on content with your team, edited it, added any graphics, and then hit ‘publish’—your job is far from over.

You need to get as many eyeballs on your content as possible. Just like crafting the content, it’s not going to be easy. 👀

You’ll have to get some help, especially if you’re new to content marketing, and don’t have an established audience of your own.

Contacting Influencers Twitter

According to some content marketers, it should be 20% content creation and 80% promotion. I disagree. I think you need to spend 50% on each.

Why? Because you need to create awesome content for people to share. But you also need people to find it—which is pretty tough in a world with so much content.

Nobody wants to share your (yet another) ‘405 ways to succeed with content marketing’ drivel. It’s boring.

Creative content is important, but concept and creation is only part of the process – once you’ve built it, content promotion helps you get in front of the right audience at the right time

Larry Kim, Wordstream

The trouble is, it’s tough to know how to reach out to people and ask them to promote your content. I mean, not only does cold emailing seem rude, it’s really hard to form any kind of relationship. Creating relationships are more important in the long-run.

This is where the power of Twitter comes in.

By creating a list of people to engage with, you can make sure you’re interacting with these people before you ask them anything. That makes a huge difference.

Takeaway: Promotion is a necessary evil when it comes to content marketing. But it doesn’t have to be spammy.

Starting a Conversation

When it comes to starting a casual conversation with an influencer, Twitter’s one of the best places to do it.

Email makes casual conversation almost impossible. It’s seen as a super formal channel, so there’s no easy way for email back-and-forth. To be fair, it was invented for a completely different world. Times have changed since the 70s.

This makes creating a long-lasting relationship difficult. Something you’ll need if you want influencers to promote your posts.

Contentacting Influencers on Twitter

It takes longer to reply to as well—it reportedly takes up 28% of the average desk worker’s day.

Email forces our brains to work differently. The randomness of email, and our desire to be responsive, causes our brains to switch to a state of high-alert, continually on the lookout for new input.

Robby Macdonell, RescueTime

Combatting this with Twitter is super simple. Casual conversation is part of the platform’s raison d’être and people expect it. This is fantastic news when you’re looking to get in touch with an influencer.

How to Connect with an Influencer on Twitter

When contacting influencers on Twitter, you need to make sure you’ve already interacted with their stuff. Whether you like it or not, you can’t just ask them for something right off the bat—it’s unreasonable. Don’t be that person.

Here’s the process I use to from a relationship with an influencer on Twitter:

  1. Find the influencer from an article I liked and add them to my personal ‘People to Engage with List’
  2. Go on the list every few days and like stuff from the feed. If you notice you’re engaging with a certain influencer’s content often, it’s time to connect
  3. Tweet them. Ask them about something or reply to a tweet of theirs with something actionable
  4. If they respond or interact with your tweet, go for an ask. Whether it’s a quote for your article or a chat

It’s not that difficult. Because you’ve interacted with their stuff naturally, it’s a genuine connection, not one that’ll last the life span of a Mayfly (anywhere between a few minutes to 24 hours).

Here’s a template I used to contact the influencers for this very post. Feel free to use it:

@person Hey NAME, I'm currently writing an article about TOPIC. Was wondering if you'd be up for a quick quote?

You should add an emoji too because why not? 🙊

Whatever you do though, don’t automate all your interaction. It’s spammy, and influencers can see it a mile off.

What Do Influencers Prefer?

What do the people we’re contacting (the influencers) prefer and why? I got in contact with a few (using the method above) and here’s what they told me.

Hillary Weiss

Hillary Weiss, Freelance Content Crafter

Hillary Weiss is a content crafter based in NYC. She loves writing amazing content for awesome brands and has worked with Crew, Jason Zook, Death to Stock Photo & many more!

"I welcome intros from just about anywhere - I love connecting with new folks online; especially when they've got great ideas.

But usually my preferred style is a hello via Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, followed up with a longer email to discuss what they're looking for. It keeps everything in one place, and makes it easier to keep track of any brainstorming going back and forth between us."

I totally agree with Hillary. While social media may well be the perfect platform to connect with someone, it’s probably not the right place to conduct business or develop a relationship further.

For stuff like that, email is handy.

Brittany Berger

Brittany Berger, Head of Content & PR at Mention

Brittany Berger heads up the content marketing over at Mention—a way to find out who’s talking about you & your company.

"My preference is definitely email, but I don't mind being contacted on Twitter.

The reason email works best is that my Twitter mention feed gets pretty full, and I know I've missed a lot of opportunities because I either didn't see the tweet soon enough, or I saw it but it got pushed down in my feed and I forgot to follow-up. Email is the best way for me to keep the message handy to reply to.

I think Twitter works best exactly the way you used it to tweet me :) - for initiating the conversation before taking it to email or another private channel where it's easier to go back and forth. It's also a great way to either ask someone for their email or gauge their interest before invading their inbox."

Thanks, Brittany!

Sometimes Twitter can get a little overwhelming, particularly if you get a lot of notifications. Make sure you don’t spam an influencer, and if they ignore your tweet just leave it for a while. The last thing you wanna do is get on their nerves.

Nichole Elizabeth

Nichole Elizabeth, Chief Strategy Officer at Inturact

Nichole Elizabeth is a SaaS consultant, Moderator at ProductHunt & GrowthHackers, all while running her own online community. Here’s what she had to say about using Twitter:

"Tweets are great! Not DMs, though. I wish I could turn off DMs entirely, haha."

While I have an auto-DM that gets sent out to my new followers, I can see where Nichole is coming from. I get a ton of spammy rubbish in my direct message folder and it does get annoying.

Try not to DM influencers because they’ll probably not see your message. Directly tweet them to get a higher chance of getting a response.

Twitter Is Better for Starting a Relationship

It seems as though Twitter is a new way to get attention from influencers. While email isn’t a corpse like everyone keeps saying, it is a less popular option when starting a relationship.

The casual nature of Twitter means you can quickly send a tweet and make it light-hearted—something that’s super tough through email.

Once you’ve made a relationship, switch to email and carry on the conversations over there. You only get 140 characters with Twitter, and DMs don’t get a whole lotta love.

I’d love to know how you get on with your Twitter outreach! If you have any input, I’d love to see you in the comments!