Influencer Relations: Using Social to Reach the Untouchables

Nate Illsley

Social media has quickly become one of the easiest and most effective ways to get in front of industry experts and influencers, and while connecting on Twitter may not seem like a priority at first, it’s actually a great way to get your company’s name in front of a target.

influencer relationsSource: pexels.com used under CC license.

In today’s digital age, social media, especially Twitter, has created a sense of immediacy in our lives in many ways. For one, the amount of information we have access to and can share is higher than ever. What’s more, social media has largely enabled people to connect directly. This comes with a number of benefits:

  • Reaching the Unreachable

One of PAN’s clients is a developer of ultrasensitive life sciences technology, and to support its goal of advancing the science of precision health, PAN developed an influencer relations strategy to connect the company’s executive leadership with industry insiders who share the same vision. Recently, we identified a prominent influencer who is an active speaker, a prominent leader and advocate within the industry, and has received worldwide recognition for his accomplishments. The only problem? He’s based in Munich, and he’s one of the busiest people in the field.

A few years ago, emailing or writing his assistant with a query letter was our only hope to establish a connection. If lucky (and convincing enough), his assistant would forward the message along. THEN, if our note miraculously reached him, he’d probably read it once only to quickly move on to the next thing.

In 2017, we easily found the influencer on Twitter and as a meaningful touchpoint, replied to a post with an insightful comment that added to the discussion. Within a day, he liked the tweet and followed our client back. We are now collaborating on a plan to have him speak at an upcoming event the client is hosting, as well as inviting him to contribute to the client’s blog.

  • Bridging the gap between influence and advertisement

Anybody can sponsor a tweet or place an ad, and while that might reach a wide audience, it lacks the same impact as an acknowledgement from a trusted voice. Here’s an example. Let’s say you were scrolling through your Twitter or Facebook feed and happened upon a blatantly sponsored post talking about the benefits of a new HR software platform. Then, imagine right below that ad, one of your friends posted a status talking about how their company implemented the same software and had an awful experience with it. Who are you going to believe, the ad or the trusted voice of a friend?

The same holds true for social influence. Getting an organic nod from a prominent industry voice means a lot more than trying to force your thoughts onto people. If it seems self-serving, the audience won’t take it to heart, but if it comes from a trusted voice with no ulterior motive, it goes a lot further and the impact is much greater.

  • Engaging a new audience

When you connect with industry influencers on social media, you are reaching one not only just new person but the person’s network as well. A retweet by an influencer exposes you to an entirely new network of individuals, many whom may not have had you on their radar to begin with, but who may be the perfect target audience with your story and message. Again, let’s use a real-world example.

Let’s say a small, innovative tech startup with a hundred Twitter followers posts a new promotional video on their page. Without sponsoring the post, it’s not going to reach that many eyes or make much of an impact. However, let’s say a prominent reporter from TechCrunch also takes interest in the company and posts the video on their own page. Suddenly, the post reaches a much wider audience and carries with it more weight, in turn extending the company’s message through a trusted voice.

Getting in front of an influencer opens you up to a new world of users, many of whom are the exact targets you’re trying to reach. You know the old saying “birds of a feather flock together?” That holds especially true on Twitter.

  • Getting your name on the radar

Establishing connections with reporters is one of the most important aspects of media relations, but it’s also often one of the most difficult. We all want to believe that our news is special, but the truth of the matter is, reporters and editors receive hundreds of story ideas per week on average. Standing out in the crowd really matters.

Nowadays, the majority of reporters have an active social media presence and often promote their own articles from their personal accounts. Let’s say you’ve been looking to get on a specific journalist’s radar for a while but so far haven’t been able to get any feedback. This person seems to be writing articles in your sweet spot, but for some reason they haven’t latched onto your story. Especially when pitching national, top-tier publications, it’s easy for a note to get lost in a reporter’s inbox. Getting on their radar through social media could make all the difference.

In addition to traditional outreach, it’s worth trying to engage the journalist on Twitter. Frequently monitor what they’ve been posting and whenever appropriate, retweet their articles and tag them in the post – even something as simple as “Great article by @XZY” can be enough. While it may seem elementary, they’ll get a notification that they’ve been tagged or retweeted. When they do, they’ll see your name as well. It may not lead to an immediate opportunity, but the next time you contact them via email or phone, you’ll stand out in the crowd because of the name recognition.

While a follow or a like on Twitter may seem insignificant in the greater span of things, it serves as a touchpoint to put your name in front of someone with whom you wish to connect or engage. While social media may not always be the best route for engaging an industry influencer, in the modern world of PR and integrated marketing it’s one of many tools we have at our disposal. As such, it should at least be considered when developing your outreach strategy.

For more on influencer relations check out How to Build a B2B Influencer Relations Program and Influencer Relations: It's All About the Personal Touch.

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