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Social Media Marketing for Business

Pratik Dholakiya


July 12, 2013

The Ultimate Guide to Using Twitter for Influencer Outreach

Picture the following scenario. You are interviewing someone for a job and they spout off all sorts of wonderful things about themselves. You call their last boss and get a less than desirable recommendation. Whose words do you believe?

Or how about this. You are at a cocktail party and a stranger comes up to you and starts telling you how cool their marketing software company is. A little while later you are having a conversation with another stranger and they tell you that they recently purchased and are loving a different marketing software company. Whose recommendation are you more likely going to check out?

See the theme here? We humans are wired to believe a recommendation about a person or brand from a third party than from a person or brand themselves.

What does this have to do with influencers? Well, you can look at influencers as the third party people who recommend your brand to an audience who trusts their words. After all, it’s tactless and ineffective to tweet about how cool your own brand is, right? But when someone else does it, it’s okay. In fact, it’s the best form of marketing you can get—word of mouth.

You know you need influencers for a successful Twitter marketing strategy and you know that Twitter is one of the channels that amplifies an influencers message making Twitter outreach a logical component of your marketing strategy.

Once you get through this guide and its links, you should be a professional at identifying the right influencers for your brand,  locating and engaging with influencers on Twitter and reaching out to them.

Maximize Your Twitter Profile

Before you start reaching out, you need to ensure that you appear seriously and professionally when people read your Twitter profile. Hence, right now is a great time to check in on your own Twitter profile before you do anything else.

  • Give your bio a good edit to make sure there are no typos. Put in keywords that explain what you would hope to be found for in a Twitter search.
  • Make sure your bio is concise. Tell exactly what your specialty is. But don’t let it be too dry, it’s okay to throw in a fun fact about yourself!
  • Don’t bog your profile down with self-promotional links. Honestly, you may just want to link it to either your company or your portfolio.
  • Give yourself a legitimate location. While listing your location as “funk town” or “earth” may be funny, I am not sure you’ll be taken seriously.
  • When someone is checking you out on Twitter they are going to look to your most recent tweets so make sure you only tweet useful information. A good strategy before you ever hit “tweet” is to think about whether or not someone viewing your profile for the first time would want to follow you based on that tweet.
  • Make sure your head shot is professional and of good quality. A blurry headshot screams laziness.

Define the Who

Before you can locate an influencer on Twitter you need to know what they look like. Thus, you need to outline your influencer and give it an image.

First, think about the types of Twitter users your target audience would follow. For example, if I’m promoting a book on parenting toddlers, I’m not going to reach out to Twitter users who actively tweet about raising teens because their audience is there to read their advice and anecdotes about teenagers, not babies.

When you think you’ve got a grasp on what type of person your audience would follow on Twitter then fill out the following three categories so that you can choose influencers who can speak to your ideal audience for you.

  • Context: A contextual fit is first and foremost the most important factor when defining who to reach out. For example, if you are looking for influencers to tweet about your marketing automation software, you wouldn’t reach out to someone who tweets about fashion all of the time. Even if their bio says marketer. Because their audience is clearly there to read about fashion so you’ll need to refrain—no matter how many followers they have!
  • Reach: Reach determines how far your influencer’s tweeted words carry. You may want to set a minimum number of followers that your ideal twitter influencer has before putting them on your target or reach outreach list.
  • Influencer type:  When you read a tweeter’s bio, you should get a feel for their personality type. Maybe you are working on a nonprofit campaign and need an activist, or maybe you are advertising a fashion garment and need a trendsetter or perhaps you are enlisting a campaign for a technical piece of software and you need an authority on your niche.

Once you have outlined who your ideal Twitter influencer is, it’s time to locate them.

Tools to Help Your Twitter Searching

Searching for the ideal influencers manually using Twitter’s search function is not very helpful. Because of this there is an exhaustive amount of tools available to aid in your Twitter scouting. Here are some of the more popular ones.

Follower Wonk is probably the most popular. This tool allows you to search for influencers by keywords in their Twitter bios. You can even find Twitter influencers by location if your campaign involved your influencers going to a specific place like a restaurant to review or trade show to tweet about.

Twitter Guide

Social Bro is getting a lot of buzz and good reviews lately. Among many organization features, it will allow you to search for influencers based on whatever criteria you see fit.

Twitter guide

Twellow is a free tool that allows you to search for influencers based on keywords they have in their Twitter bios and will return results with follower metrics for people in categories that you search for.

twitter guide helps you find influencers, cultivate relationships and manage your Twitter outreach. It has a basic free plan and you can upgrade to a more premium plan if you see fit.

twitter guide

Following hashtags will reveal influencers in a targeted genre or niche. If you are looking for influencers who actively twee about fashion then you would follow fashion related hash tags to identify who is talking loudly about fashion.

Use Fakers to ensure genuine followers. The world of social media is transforming communication and marketing in many good ways. But with any good thing there come negativities. We already know that some “influencers” have fake followers so using Fakers can help you run them through the filter of “sincerity.”

twitter guide

Staying Organized

Keeping your outreach campaign organized from the very beginning will provide a strong backbone that will strengthen every step of your campaign. Organization in Twitter outreach primarily revolves around nurturing and maintaining your relationships with your target influencers.

Here are some tools to help keep your organization intact.

Use Twitter Lists, a list that you can put any Twitter user in to, to monitor your relationships with influencers. You can view tweets by list which will allow you to more closely monitor your targets and interact with them.

twitter guide

HootSuite is free if you are only managing one account but upgrading isn’t terribly expensive.  HootSuite allows you to stay organized, follow hashtags, schedule tweets, track who is mentioning your brand and more.

twitter guide

Buffer helps you manage your Twitter account and allows you to schedule your tweets. Their free plan is awesome.

twitter guide

Unique Tweets to Grab Attention

Active engagement on Twitter with your targeted influencers will lead to awareness of your brand’s presence which leads to a much better response rate when you reach out. Reaching out to gain a relationship through a single tweet can seem a bit abrasive; sometimes you need to be creative in your tweets to grab your targeted influencers’ attention.  Here are some creative ways to do so:

  • Incorporate a tweet or link to a blog post of theirs (if they have a blog) in your own blog post. You can then tweet at them that you recommended their words in your post and include the link of course! This strokes their ego and puts you on their radar.
  • Instead of simply retweeting their posts, write your own shout out and tweet their posts with their Twitter handle so that they see it.
  • Respond to the posts they tweet with a question that sparks a discussion. This has proven to be one of the most effective ways to get an influencer to engage with you.
  • If you are following certain hash tags, you know some influencers in your space are following those hash tags as well. By tweeting often—but not obnoxiously—using these hash tags will be sure to at least make your influencers aware of your existence.
  • Be bold and tweet at your targeted influencer a simple introduction or invitation to collaborate.

Don’t Overlook Advocacy

It’s been established that tuning in through your Twitter tool of choice can help you find influencers. Organization and Twitter monitoring can help you get to know your influencers. Creative tweets can help you grab their attention. But one thing that too often gets overlooked is brand advocates aka influencers that are already in place!

By following mentions of your brand, you have probably already seen people tweeting about how much they love your brand. Reward or at least acknowledge these mentions in order to keep them coming. You can do this by tweeting a sincere thank you to sending them a product from you company to offering a commission for those mega advocates.

Advocates are often your loudest influencers because they have aligned themselves with your brand organically. They also are obvious in their passion for your brand which shows in their mentions and makes their own network want to look in to your brand to see what all the fuss is about.

Reaching Out

After you’ve engaged with and stroked the egos of your targeted influencers, it’s time to reach out and be transparent about your goal. If, through your tracking of your targeted influencers, they’ve posted links to their personal blogs or have a link in their Twitter bio, check out the blog and see if you can find their email address. You need more than 140 characters to appropriately reach out. Because any “pitch” or “post engagement contact” should contain the following:

  • Find the person’s first name and address them by it
  • Get to the point and state why you are reaching out
  • Don’t ask them to just do something for you, offer something to them as well
  • Reference a tweet or post that says why the two of you are a good fit to work together

If you can’t locate an email address, tweet your request. Keep it friendly and to the point. Here are some examples:

  • Hey @twitter_user, I think we should collaborate, what do you think?
  • @twitter_user, I love your stuff, can we talk about working together?
  • @twitter_user how does one perfect fit such as myself go about working with you?

Stay Informed

You’ve already grasped by now how quickly social media and marketing trends change. Here are some resources to keep you informed as well as to stay in the loop concerning Twitter outreach.

In the event that you are new to Twitter and need help setting up your account and grasping the basics before reaching out, check out this twitter guide on Kissmetrics blog.

Social Media Explorer, a resourceful blog will keep you up to date on all the tips, best practices and tools when it comes to all things social media.

Social Media Examiner is a great blog to follow for any marketer who wants to increase their company’s sales and improve their brands image with the help of social media.

Sprout Insights has some great tips on Twitter.

Check out this guide from HubSpot on best practices when using Twitter hashtags.

Do you have any resources, tips or tricks to share on Twitter outreach? If so, let’s get a discussion going in the comments below!

This post was originally published on the E2M Solutions Blog. Reprinted with permission.



Pratik Dholakiya is the founder of Growfusely, a content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO. He regularly speaks at various conferences about SEO, Content Marketing, and Entrepreneurship. Pratik has spoken at the 80th Annual Conference of the Florida Public Relations Association, Accounting and Finance Show, Singapore, NextBigWhat’s UnPluggd, IIT-Bombay, SMX Israel, SEMrush Meetup, MICA, IIT-Roorkee, and other major events. As a passionate SEO and content marketer, he shares his thoughts and knowledge in publications like Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, The Next Web, YourStory, and Inc42, to name a few. He can be found at Twitter @DholakiyaPratik.