The power of influence is often still underused in social media approaches yet can really help cut through in the noisy and cluttered world of these platforms. This new post guides you through four important lessons.
by Tim Gatt
We’ve all been proud of our team’s fabulous work, be it a video, a graphic or a well-worded tweet, but then been surprised (and sometimes disappointed) at how it’s performed.
It’s not enough to post and hope, particularly on Twitter. Tweets zoom past so quickly that they can be easily missed, especially if they’re aimed at the public.
At the Department for Education, we’ve been looking at how using credible and relevant influencers organically and at no cost can help boost the visibility of our posts.
Here are some tips on how you can do it, no matter whether you’re working for a big department or small council operation.
With a small and busy team of content creators, we can’t always invest time and energy in looking to boost every single post.
We have to prioritise – what are the most important announcements for our organisation? Which parts of your content that you’re planning are likely to be the most sharable, relatable, or engaging for your target audience? Is it a lovely, moving case study, an attractive graphic with key practical information, or a picture that puts a smile on their faces?
It’s hard to get people interested in liking or sharing dry posts unless they contain important information.
2. Identify the right people
It’s important to do your research before embarking upon contacting people on Twitter. Do they have a credible or relevant link to your story or piece of content? People tend to be very busy and have little time to read and/or watch something.
Put yourself in their shoes – why would they care about what you’ve made? Is it emotive, or does it have a relatable story at the heart of it? Do they work in that area, or have they spoken about the topic before?
Use Google and the search function on Twitter for your keywords – but I also recommend Buzzsumo. It may have a funny name, but it’s a great tool for surfacing relevant keywords in people’s bios or in articles that they’ve previously shared. And it can be as cheap as £700 a year, which as social media monitoring tools go, is a bargain.
You should also check if the people you’re thinking of contacting have been critical of your organisation. This doesn’t preclude engaging with them, especially if it’s a topic they feel passionate about, but you may want to check with bosses if so and weigh-up the pros and cons of engaging with them.
Also, keep a note of who you’ve contacted previously – did they respond? It’s good to build a rapport, but equally, you don’t want to keep pestering the same people unless there is something they’d really care about.
And don’t aim too high – the notifications of someone with millions of followers are likely to be very busy and almost out of control. Those with smaller, more active followings, are more likely to see it and respond.
3. Check their activity
Take a look at their accounts – including their tweets and replies column for Twitter. Do they personally use social media? A sign they don’t is that their messages appear very corporate and/or the tweets are “sent from Twitter Web App”.
But also look at their likes – have they liked personal comments or interactions? And have they used it recently i.e., within the last week? That can indicate the likelihood of them responding to you.
4. Be polite and personalise your post
I’m surprised at some people who spam a load of celebrities with the same copied and pasted post, with apparently no care or attention. Take the time with each post.
Be polite – say ‘hi’ and explain where you’re from (spell out any acronyms of your organisation’s name, for example, say ‘Department for Education’ not “DfE’.)
Tailor it to the person – do you like his or her work, or something they’ve recently done? You can say so if it fits with the tone of the story or request.
Sometimes the recipient may retweet your post instead of the original post, so be aware! Even more reason to work on what you write.
If you can message them privately, do so, but still treat the message as if it was public – the same rules apply.
And if they do share your post, say ‘thank you’. It could also help to build a relationship with that person for the future.
Don’t expect everyone to respond – I have about a 1:10 success ratio or more, depending on the subject matter. And don’t chase or harangue someone! Keep polite and respectful.
I personally prefer to contact people from my personal profile than the corporate account. I think people respond better to an individual and you can be more personal (My account is verified, which could help my post stand out, but I can’t tell that for certain and wouldn’t necessarily think it’s a major factor; it’s the piece of content that does the selling.)
Although you’re identifying yourself as a member of your organisation, there is less of a reputational risk to your employer of engaging in this way.
Below are some examples of my tweets…
If you have a question, happy to chat about it: email@example.com or reach me on LinkedIn: LinkedIn.com/in/TimGatt
Tim Gatt is Head of digital engagement and creative content at the Department for Education. You can say also hello on Twitter at @TimGatt
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Image via Tullio Saba