Shane Barker has been a digital marketing consultant for 15 years, with a recent emphasis on influencer marketing.
You have all of your goals laid out, and you’re ready to launch an influencer marketing campaign. Just how do you begin connecting with influencers?
Ideally, influencer outreach should be carried out through email. Email outreach will allow you to get into more detail. There’s also a higher probability of having them notice you.
At the same time however, it’s best to make initial contact through social media. That will give you a better chance of strengthening your connection.
In this post, you will learn some of the best ways to connect with influencers on social media. You will find out how to identify influencers within different platforms, and how to connect with them via those same platforms.
Here are some essential strategies for using social media to connect with influencers:
#1: Find the Right Influencers
To connect with influencers, you first need to find them. This is a crucial step, so it’s important to take your time, and make your selection carefully.
Before choosing an influencer to work with, make sure they meet the following criteria:
- Are They Relevant? – Relevance is the most important factor to consider when choosing influencers. Unlike celebrities with massive online and offline reach, influencers usually have more of a niche audience. For example, a fashion and beauty influencer will have an audience mostly comprised of people who are interested in makeup and clothing. So your first step is to determine whether or not an influencer is relevant to your target demographic and your niche.
- Are They Engaging? – Another important factor to consider is an influencer’s ability to engage their audience. Do they regularly produce high-quality content that their audience loves to engage with? Or do they have thousands of followers with only a few hundred likes or comments on their content? You can manually check the content of different influencers, or you can use tools like BuzzSumo, HYPR, or Insightpool to determine the quality of engagement an influencer generates.
BuzzSumo for example, is a search tool that will display the retweet ratio, reply ratio, and average retweets along with the number of followers for each influencer. You can then compare these stats to understand how well an influencer engages their audience.
Beyond these two very important elements, you should then look to an influencer’s reach. While audience size is important, it’s not as impactful as their relevance and engagement. Once you’ve narrowed down the list of influencers to those who are relevant to your niche, and who also produce engaging content, you can then choose those with larger audience sizes.
Once you have a better idea of what to look for in an influencer, you can begin your search. It’s relatively easy to find influencers on various social media channels as long as you know the right keywords and phrases to use.
Since you’re searching for prominent and relevant accounts, a quick search of key phrases or keywords will yield a list of top related accounts on whichever platform you’re using.
- Twitter – For instance, if you were in the health food industry and searching for relevant influencers on Twitter, you could search by using terms such as “healthy eating,” “health foods,” “fitness,” etc. If you search for “healthy eating,” you will get the following results of prominent accounts related to the search term.
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If you’re going to look for top accounts that have participated in conversations related to a certain subject, you can turn the phrase into a hashtag and conduct your search. For example, “health eating” becomes “#healthyeating.”
- Facebook – Within Facebook, instead of searching for “people” as influencers, you will actually want to search under “pages.” Search for things such as “fitness coach,” “wellness coach,” “personal trainer,” “nutritionist,” or anything along the lines of an influencer’s profession, relevant to your product. Otherwise, phrases like “healthy eating” will only yield results for pages dedicated to such topics, and not the individuals themselves.
- LinkedIn – LinkedIn is one of the best places to connect with experts in any given field. So if you’re looking for an expert related to healthy eating, you can use search terms such as “nutritionist,” “fitness trainer,” “wellness coach,” “health food chef,” etc. A great feature of LinkedIn search is the ability to filter search results by location, company, industry, profile language, and more.
- Instagram – Hashtags are your ally when it comes to canvassing Instagram for the right influencers. A simple search of a relevant hashtag will bring up some of the top posts using that hashtag. These top posts normally have a lot of likes and comments. Follow the accounts posting the images, and you will ideally find relevant influencers.
Next, if we check out the person who posted the video, we find that they have more than 898,000 followers. Based on her bio, she seems to be an influencer in health, fitness, lifestyle, and beauty. So she would make an excellent influencer to work with to promote products related to the health food industry.
#2: Ask Them Questions on Twitter
Twitter is one of the best channels to interact with influencers. Many influential individuals frequently use this platform to share their content, or simply connect with fans.
You can use this platform to create, and build your connection with the influencer. At the basic level, you can like and retweet their Twitter posts. But keep in mind that thousands of other people are doing the same thing, so that may not be enough to stand out to your target influencer.
Take it a step further by asking them an intriguing question that’s relevant to them, or ask their opinion on a relevant topic. If they’ve recently been in the news, or featured in a publication, you might tweet the link and congratulate them. Basically, you need to find an opportunity to talk to them, and build your connection.
They may not answer you right away, or even answer your first few tweets if they happen to be a big influencer. The main point is to get them to notice you. And regular questions or tweets should do the trick. That’s not to say that you should flood their inbox, or pester them everyday. A few tweets a week should suffice to get their attention.
Beauty editor and influencer Polly Blitzer (@BeautyBlitz) regularly responds to questions from fans. Despite having more than 61,000 Twitter followers, she actively replies to questions directed at her, (as shown in the screenshot below).
If a beauty brand were to connect with her, they could begin with occasional questions before approaching her for a partnership.
#3: Connect With Experts on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is one of the best places to go if you’re looking for influential experts, or if you need to launch a B2B marketing campaign.
After finding potential relevant influencers to connect with, try sending them a connection request. Many of them will want to expand their network, and will accept the request. When they accept, send them a message explaining how you know about them, and why you would like to connect. If your message includes a request for promotions, make sure to highlight what you have to offer as well.
If you’re not comfortable with sending a connection request straight away, try connecting with them through LinkedIn groups first. First, check to see which groups the influencer is a part of. If any of the groups are relevant to your industry or niche, request to join, and begin interacting with members of the group once you’re accepted.
For example, the screenshot below shows all the groups joined by Chef Alain Braux, who showed up in the earlier LinkedIn search.
We can see that some of these groups such as “Gluten-Free Diet,” “Organic Food Industry,” and “Organic and Healthy,” are relevant to the health food industry. Once your request to join is accepted, interact with members, and share some of your content.
Ideally, you will want to include your target influencer in the conversation. Check to see if they have been in the spotlight lately, and link the posts to the group. Be sure the target influencer notices. After this, any attempt to connect will seem less awkward, and they will be more likely to reciprocate.
#4: Repost their Instagram Pictures
Though you can like and comment on an influencer’s Instagram posts, your efforts at connecting will inevitably be lost within the flood of comments and likes from their followers.
To really improve your chances of being noticed by the influencer, use tools such as the Repost App to repost their images. This will show the influencer that you truly appreciate their content, and will also serve to enrich your own feed with fresh content.
Make it a point to repost one image from the influencer every other week until they notice your efforts. Talk about how much you love their style, or how you love their witty captions.
If their post happens to feature something related to your product, expand on that with an engaging post of your own. The Honest Company, for example, regularly reposts images by micro-influential moms who are already using their brand’s products.
After this, try connecting with them via Direct Message. Give a brief outline of your offer or proposal, and then ask them if it’s okay to send more details by email. This is an excellent way to strengthen your connection with the influencer and show them that you respect their privacy.
#5: Engage With Them on Facebook
Once you’ve followed an influencer’s Facebook page, you can begin interacting with the page by liking and commenting on their posts. Like Instagram, it may be easy to get lost in the flood of comments, so it’s best to comment as your brand’s official Facebook page, as it will stand out amongst the
Additionally, try sharing an influencer’s content, and tagging them in the post. If they’re a blogger, for instance, share their latest blog post on your brand’s Facebook page. Or if there’s a post featuring them, share it on Facebook, and make sure to tag them.
Take a look at this post by Geek Fuel, for example. It’s an excellent opportunity for them to be noticed by The Simpsons creator, Matt Groening. It would have been even better if they were able to tag the official Facebook page for the illustrator in the post.
Once they have started to notice your efforts, reach out to them with a private Facebook message. Keep your first messages short and non-promotional. For example, you could tell them how much you love their content, and encourage them to keep it up. When they respond, continue the conversation with them, and then offer your proposal for a partnership.
These tips and strategies will help you connect with various influential individuals across all social media platforms.
Remember to diversify your efforts across not only varying platforms but also different potential influencers. You can prioritize one of these channels, but you should gradually connect with influencers on other channels. For example, if you’re starting to gain results from Instagram influencer marketing, make sure you begin connecting with influencers on Facebook and Twitter.
An important point to remember is that relationships take time to grow. Don’t let a lack of immediate effects deter you. Building a strong and genuine connection with influencers will make your promotional efforts more authentic, and will yield better results.
Which of these tips are you planning to apply first? Do you have any questions about the tips provided here? Let me know in the comments below.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 Shane Barker