Short and sweet pitching.

Social media offers an opportunity for us PR folk to reach out to influencers and journalists in a more intimate space. Specifically, Twitter’s low-barrier-to-entry and high adoption makes it a very appealing medium for influencer outreach. Below are a list of best practices for getting influencers’ attention without stepping on any Twitter toes:

1. Maximize your Twitter profile.

You need to make sure that your profile, whether it’s yours or your brand’s, appears serious and professional. Establish yourself as a thought leader in the field they’re in. Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Make sure your bio is error-free and accurate. Put in keywords that explain what you would hope to be found for in a Twitter search (SEO)
  • Make sure your bio is concise – tell your audience exactly what your specialty is
  • Keep your recent tweets relevant to the topic you’re pitching, and think twice before posting about anything controversial
  • If it is a personal Twitter account, make sure your head shot is professional and of good quality. Business accounts, add an approved company logo or custom logo for outreach

2. Be certain the influencer you’re after is open to a “pitch” interaction.

What type of dialogue is acceptable to them? If the person only uses Twitter as a distribution channel rather than an engagement, research and awareness tool, it may not be the best platform to reach out to them.

3. Build a Twitter outreach list.

Twitter lists can be set to public or private and allow you to organize Twitter users in groups to manage how you read tweets. Creating or subscribing to a list allows you to see only tweets from users on that list, and is a great opportunity for a community outreach and engagement campaign. This comes with a pair of benefits: insights for you and appreciation for those you add to a relevant list.

4. Engage and interact.

It’s important to build a relationship with your influencers through personal interactions leading up to your pitch. Retweet, favorite, quote, and reply to tweets that are relevant to your brand, company, or area of expertise. Use the same hashtags as them or respond with a question that sparks a discussion to help drive engagement. Don’t be too desperate; you don’t want them to file a restraining order.

5. Reach out.

After you’ve engaged with the influencer, you can begin to reach out about the goal of your campaign. Be concise; Twitter is 140 characters for a reason! If they want additional information but didn’t provide an email, Twitter recently extended the 140-character limit for direct messages, so you can use it as you would email. Here are a few more tips:

  • Address the person by name if it’s provided in their profile
  • Get to the point; state exactly why you’re reaching out
  • If you’re tweeting from a personal account and not the brand’s, include a link to some news or @mention the brand you’re representing

6. Remember it’s public!

When pitching a reporter over the phone, if it goes badly, it usually stays between you and the person on the other end of the line. That’s not the case when you’re pitching online. Twitter’s instant shareability can quickly amplify an interaction, making a bad situation worse for you and your brand. Consider your approach and outcomes. Don’t mass tweet pitches to several reporters. As soon as you contact an influencer, they will likely click your Twitter profile and look at your recent tweets. You don’t want them to see your last 20 tweets are copy-pasted versions of the one you sent to them.

7. Follow up.

Once or twice is the max. The point of a pitch on social is to be short and sweet. If they don’t respond, they’re not interested.

If you’re ready to launch an influencer relations campaign that wows, grab a coffee and do your research. Follow the above steps and you’ll be golden.

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