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Engage influencers on Twitter in 5 minutes a day

How fast can you find relevant people on Twitter? And how do you engage them? How clear are your goals and your strategy? You probably use the search panel to look for hashtags, companies or users, ending up with a list of general results. Fine, but not exactly what you were looking for.

Here’s how you can set up a killer strategy to stay on top of the news in your niche, engage influencers, find business leads and build relationships while saving time. You’ll see how everything is possible with a combination of common sense, best practices, guts and a little help from automated processes. Let’s get started.

1. Master the advanced search

What if you could narrow your search and find exactly the people who are looking for your product, who are talking about a competitor of yours or are just relevant for the market you’re in? There are different ways to filter the most interesting contacts from the total amount of Twitter users. An intriguing way to do it is to learn something about advanced search operators.

These operators let you include and exclude additional information in your search, in order to make the results more relevant to you. On this page most of the advanced options are available. But you can just add manually the operators in the Twitter search bar.

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1.1 Common search operators

Just as in Google search pages, you can use some common operators to refine your search. For instance, root -beer will return all the results containing root but not beer; bike OR bicycle will return tweets containing any of the 2 words.

1.2 Filter by geographical position

Yes, you can! Advanced operators let you filter tweets according to the position of the tweeter. If you’re involved in a local community, it could make sense to run this kind of search:“flea market” near:”london” within:5km

The same can be done with dates, using the operators since and until.

1.3 Smiles and punctuation

Ok, this is kinda scary. To a certain extent, Twitter understands the mood of your tweets. So you can also filter using or to get only tweets with a positive or a negative attitude. Moreover, adding a question mark to your search will show tweets containing questions.

2. Organise contacts in public lists

Once you start finding relevant people on Twitter, you need to understand how to organize them in order to have immediate access whenever you need it. A good strategy can be to categorize and include them in your Twitter lists. A list is a collection of Twitter users whose tweets you want to group. You can follow other people’s public lists or create your owns.

2.1 Criteria to create your lists

Twitter lists are perfect for your next step: listening. In fact, listening is one of the most powerful uses of social media and Twitter lists can make listening very efficient.

A contextual fit is the most important factor to create your lists: pick the niches you’re interested in and group people accordingly. Other factors you can consider are the overall reach of the people you add – i.e. you can decide a minimum amount of followers – and the type of person.

If you are advertising a fashion brand you may look for fashion bloggers; if you work for a nonprofit organization you may need activists; maybe you’re crowdfunding your IoT device and need just makers and hardware developers.

2.2 Why your lists will evolve

There’s no need to create a perfect list from the beginning. Your lists will evolve over time: the people you find will lead you to other influencers. You’ll see how people interact with each other and you may find inspiration for your next move. Overcrowded lists can be hard to manage, so keep them short and clean.

Sometimes you may find out some of the people you follow focus on uninteresting topics, some others are not congruent with your brand or values. You can drop these and move on.

Need some lists to start from? Take inspiration from these! 1 2 3

3. Start building relationships

How do you create good relationships with key influencers? Here’s how Jeff Bullas, one of the main experts in the field, put it:

Show through your actions that you respect their work, business, time, and privacy

Jeff Bullas

Listening to your shortlist of people, reading the articles they share, understanding the way they think, will take you closer to your goals. You’ll find unexpected ways to help out.

When you see a new way you can provide assistance to someone else, just do it. You’re building credibility for yourself while helping someone else.

3.1 Ideas to start from

Here are a few ways to start relationships with members of your lists:
  • Retweet and promote their content, cause and products.
  • Comment on their articles.
  • Ask for their opinion in their area of expertise.
  • Mention that you’ve mentioned them – i.e. if you talk about them in one of your articles.
  • Hire them as a coach or consultant.
  • Connect them to someone who needs them.
  • Make it easy for them to do what you want them to do.
  • Don’t let too much time pass without a contact.
  • Look for new ways to create value for both of you.

3.2 It's ok to be transparent

After you’ve engaged your targeted influencers, it’s time to reach out and be transparent about your goal. Find their direct email – most of the times this is not hard at all. You probably need more than 140 characters to appropriately reach out. Hey, remember Jeff Bullas’ words? Respect their business, work, time, and privacy. So be honest about what you’re looking for and show where the value of your proposal is.

This has been a successful, although time-consuming, marketing strategy for a long time. Your main goal is to grow your audience and your brand’s influence with it. Do it well and you’ll see benefits you weren’t even thinking about.

What are your favourite tips & tricks to engage influencers on Twitter?

This post was originally published on the Twittercounter blog.