piece written on the 20th November 2014 by  

I was chatting to a friend the other day who is launching a new product in the not too distant future and he was asking me whether I knew some ways to get the product seeded into the right influencers hands. He has someone to actually handle this task for him so time isn’t a big concern, he’s one of those guys who wants quality over quantity, which I greatly appreciate. His specific request was to be able to engage with the right people within his industry and we agreed that email was not the correct approach at this point. His target audience is South Africa.

After a fair bit of discussion we agreed that Twitter could be a great approach for this and he asked me to find out who the influencers are. Now there are a lot of ways to do this, but most of them are rather time consuming so I wanted to take an approach that would not consume too much time and would get me to the right people quickly. One piece of software came to mind immediately, Followerwonk. Followerwonk is, in my opinion, a heavily under utilised tool for finding people on Twitter. I can’t quite put my finger on why people don’t use it, perhaps it’s just a case of it not reaching us yet. Anyway, I am familiar with it so I wanted to use it to extract the right people.

For the sake of this article I’m going to use “investing” as the topic here so let’s assume he’s launching a tool linked to investing.

First thing to do is load up¬†and sign in with your Twitter handle. Once you’ve done that you want to navigate to “Search bios” and then complete the form with the details you’re searching for, here’s an example of what I used for this:

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I choose to search for “investors” in South Africa that have at least 5,000 followers and no more than 20,000 followers. Personally, I find that people with over 5,000 followers can generally be taken seriously, but if the followers go over 20,000 those people are more public figures and the chances of engaging with them are very difficult, so let’s save them for later.

Once you’ve performed your search you’ll be presented with a list of South African’s who have more than 5,000 followers but less than 20,000 who have listed “investor” in their Twitter bio.

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This is a great starting point and now we need to narrow things down a little:

  • Look at “tweets”, “followers” and “social authority” as the metrics that determine whether someone is credible or not.
  • It’s a good idea to see whether a person followers others back, if they do, chances of them being someone who engages is higher.
  • You can note how old the account is relative to the number of tweets and/or followers for more insight, but that’s getting rather involved.
  • I always recommend clicking through to the person’s profile on Twitter and actually having a look at whether they engage, RT and so forth.

Something that plays a really big role in this is that if you’re launching something great in a specific industry, you really should have a decent idea of the various role players in said industry. For example, I do a lot of investing and I know “Simon Brown” quite well from his tweets. I can immediately say that he’s a respected guy who does reply to tweets so he would definitely go onto my list of people to try to seed the new product to. I’d recommend looking for about 10-20 people to engage with and carefully go through their profiles to make sure that you won’t be tweeting to a deaf ear or tweeting to the incorrect type of person. A spreadsheet is really useful for tracking all of this.

There are some important points that go along with this before you start engaging:

  1. This takes time, you need to engage with a person, gain trust and so forth before you simply blast them with a request and/or product announcement. With a quality over quantity approach you’ll waste all the hard work if you don’t do this organically.
  2. Don’t fire up Tweetdeck and simply send out a copy/paste tweet to the 20 people who’ve found. Not only will your timeline look spammy (which is important because they’ll be clicking through to you), it’ll also potentially irritate people who are connected to you and the person being tweeted. Instead, create an execution timeline, send out unique tweets and engage over time rather than bursts.
  3. Consider RT’ing things they’ve said, after all they’re in your industry and therefore the material they are sharing is more than likely useful to yours and therefore there’s an added bonus that you’ll pick up some followers along the way too.
  4. It’s best to do this form of outreach using a personal account on Twitter than a company account. Companies approaching individuals to strike up a relationship just doesn’t work very well.

This approach to out reach isn’t ground breaking or brand new, it’s been done a number of times but I can tell you that it hasn’t been done correctly a lot of the time and with patience and persistence you certainly can get great success from this. Think about it, all you might need is 1 or 2 influencers tweeting about your new product for it to arrive in front of the right consumer, an investor, another influencer and so the list goes on.

If you’ve tried this approach, pop me a comment below, I’d love to discuss your success!