Laura Fitton

5 Mistakes You Are (Likely) Making With Influencers On Twitter, And How To Turn The Tide

Video Transcription

Hello Outreach Marketing Summit. My name is Laura Fitton, better known as Pistachio. I am the inbound marketing evangelist at HubSpot and I’m here today to fix some influence or relations mistakes you might be making already with Twitter.

These are the five main points we’re going to talk about in the next 15 minutes. We’re going to talk about number one: not @-spamming the people you want to reach. Number two: what is the right mindset for how you can approach influencers?

Twitter is great because things up and you can try to talk to anybody, but you really need to have the right mindset to do it effectively. Number three, a very pragmatic, practical tip: why you actually should not use the re-tweet button.

Number four: why giving credit where credit is due is actually going to be more beneficial to you than simply sharing things without a little added credit. Number five: we’re going to talk about staying classy, not crossing that line from supporter to stalker.

Before we dig deep, I want to stop everybody here to reflect on something really unique about Twitter. As you’re thinking about your influencer strategy, I want you to remember that Twitter subverts the influence paradigm just a little bit, not only letting you reach out to influencers, but actually letting you become an influencer. That is because the message itself is the influencer.

The gentleman who shot this photo, whose phone the picture was taken on, who became an internationally published photojournalist within less than 20 minutes of this photo being taken had fewer than 200 followers at the time. There’s no way you would’ve thought of him as an influencer. He came up with a piece of content so incredibly compelling that it itself became influential.

I’m going to show you some tips on working with influencers, but I want you to remember that your best action at all times is that inbound marketing, where you’re focused on putting out the kind of content that’s going to attract the right buyer for your business.

Let’s dive into our five tips. These are five mistakes you might be making in your influencer relations. The title of this whole talk, don’t tweet me maybe, a little shout out to Carly Rae Jepsen. Really, are you at spamming the people you want to reach?

Now here’s an extreme example. This is just a few minutes, under an hour worth of tweets at Ellen DeGeneres asking her to check something out. It’s spam. Twitter doesn’t like it. It violates the terms of service and it’s not going to get you in front of the influencer that you want to reach.

I wasn’t able to screenshot this because it only happens occasionally, but sometimes a well-meaning brand is not aware that they’re violating Twitter’s terms of service. They’ll put up five, ten, 15, even 20 tweets in a row where they’re just going down somebody’s list of people to reach out to.

They’re starting every tweet for example, at Pistachio, or at the Ellen show, so they think it won’t be as visible to their readers that they’re spamming. They are still spamming. They can still be reported. They account can still be suspended by Twitter.

Instead of at spamming, you want to think about building relationships. That’s the real long-term opportunity in using Twitter to reach influencers. It’s not in that quick hit, share my link, retweet this post, checkout my product. Even if at spamming was effective, even if the target of your at spam sees it and takes the action, which is technically a win, you’ve just lost because that person doesn’t necessarily and probably doesn’t, have a higher opinion of you now.

You haven’t established any groundwork for a future relationship. If anybody doesn’t recognize this image, this is that moment when Bogie is about to turn to the French military man and say, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Let your Twitter outreach be the basis of a beautiful long-term friendship. What’s a way to do that? Let’s start with another famous quote here. If anyone in this audience can’t think exactly what the next line is then study up on your JFK. The point here is to stop asking what influencers can do for you.

Ask first what can you be doing for the influencers you want to target? This next example of point two here is a rather extreme case. You can’t guarantee that something like this is just going to happen to you. This happened to me early in my career.

I was running a Twitter app store called and I wanted nothing more in the world than to make an impression on tech journalists. The Wall Street Journal would be a great spot to be making that impression. My company and I knew a lot about Twitter apps.

I was following a lot of the types of journalists and bloggers with whom I wanted to eventually make that impression. Sure enough one of them, Julia Angwin at the Wall Street Journal installed an app that had really, really invasive Twitter privacy settings. It would actually change your location on Twitter to your exact latitude and longitude.

I was able to seize that opportunity, send her a tweet right then and there and say, Ubertweet is great, but you’re going to want to check your privacy defaults. I found out several years down the road that actually was a turning point for her in her career. She became much more interested in privacy issues afterwards.

When this blog article ran about the incident, she reached out to me and thanked me for that. To be able to do this kind of thing, you have to already be watching and following and thinking, how can I help this person? I’ll get to some very tactical points in my summary if you’re not sure what that might look like.

Let’s go on to step two. Don’t touch that retweet button. You might already have had the idea that when you’re trying to get on somebody’s radar it’s a good idea to share the stuff they’re sharing. There’s a much better way to share than that simple retweet button.

Here I have an example. Note that this is not only better for reaching Anthony DeRosa at the Associated Press, it’s actually better for the readers too, when you add a little comment in front of that retweet. This isn’t even a technology thing. It’s as simple as copying and pasting the tweet with your mouse, cleaning it up a little bit, because of the way formatting tends to copy, editing it to add in your comment, and appending any specifics that you want to have included there.

In this way, in this specific case, I was actually thanking him for something. In other cases, you might be telling your readers why this article by the journalist you’re retweeting is particularly relevant to the kinds of things they’re interested in.

When you retweet right, you’re actually paying a complement. Related, but slightly different, is to always remember give proper credit where credit is due. Doing this is actually going to end up being extremely good for you.

My example here involves an instance where HubSpot was being covered in Forbes. Of course, everybody at HubSpot was very excited to share that on Twitter. I encouraged everybody to take one additional step, which was we stopped, we looked at the name and Twitter handle of the journalist, and we added a remark to all our shares where we actually thanked him.

As we asked employees to share this great news, we also asked them to remember to mention the reporter who wrote. This does a bunch of different things. It does show the reporter that you and your team are supporting their work. That means a lot in a world where journalists are being measured on can their articles drive traffic? Can they get the page views? Can they support the organization?

Media companies are under all kids of strain and pressure. The more you do this kind of thing and show I’m really behind you, I’m with you, the more likely that influencer is to feel favorably towards you, possibly to come to you for quotes the next time.

A really, really important note here is some of you may be using… There are some great products out there that let you opt a bunch of your supporters into automatically posting tweets. If you’re using one of those tools, for example at HubSpot probably over 100 employees have raised their hand and said yes, when we have really big news to share, it’s okay to use that tool and I’ll tweet it out on my account.

When you’re using any kind of an automated tool to share things, that’s the one time you don’t want to insert the journalist’s name because they’re going to see 30, 50, 100 different tweet of the exact same tweet coming from different people. That’s going to start to look creepy and suspicious.

We’re going to talk in point five about how to not look creepy. This would be a good example right then and there. I think the one exception to that is if you’re going to have your supporters retweet a post that you made on your main company account. Then it’s going to look a little more natural and organic. Otherwise be very careful about including the journalist’s name in a tweet that’s going to go out from a lot of different accounts.

You might be thinking, sure that’s great. You’re at a company that gets a lot of press. This is really easy for you at HubSpot. What am I supposed to do with this rule at my company? It’s not just a way of magnifying press that’s about you; it’s a way of doing any share correctly.

As you’re approaching your Twitter account, you’re hopefully doing a lot of really smart curation. You’re going out there and you’re finding the best articles in the industry that are going to be relevant to the personas that your company sells to. This rule works just fine in those situations.

When you find those articles and you line them up, and you’re getting ready to share them on all your social platforms where this kind of tagging is available, but especially on Twitter, take that extra moment to find the name of the person who wrote it. Figure out their Twitter handle and include that right in the tweet so they can see you’re a fan of their work. You’re sharing their work with others. You’re promoting their work.

It’s a really great opportunity. Use it judiciously. Don’t go crazy and do this all the time to one particular journalist. They might notice you being really creepy. Definitely give credit where credit is due.

Staying classy, folks. Remember the gold here is to support, never to stop. Believe it or not, if you’re following someone’s account, you’re checking it out, you’re doing your research and you’re ready to go, that line between outreach and stalking might be thinner than you think. Here is why.

Twitter has changed up their notifications a bit so that you’re not just seeing specific mentions, but you’re actually seeing every little action here and there taken. To give you this screenshot, I went and I did a fake example. I used my Twitter For Dummies account.

In a five minute, I did actually not that intense an amount of reading of my main account, Pistachio. I retweeted a couple things. I favorited a couple things. I sent one actual reply. That’s not a ridiculous amount of activity. Here’s the thing.

All those things I just did are public and surfaced to the Pistachio account. I did all this on at Dummies. I logged out and logged back in as Pistachio and I took this screenshot. It looked really creeping that one single account had suddenly done six different things with my account.

Just remember when you’re spending the time and investing time in actually reading the Twitter streams of the influencers you want to do outreach with, bear in mind how much of what you’re doing is visible to them so that you don’t start to make them feel uncomfortable.

If you think this doesn’t really, it actually does. I’ve seen, usually not the well-meaning marketers, usually not genuine companies, but actually people who are a little bit more rogue just kind of go crazy and favorite everything for a day or retweet everything for a day or two or just get on Twitter and retweet anything said by any influencer.

When you go to their stream, it’s just a bunch of retweets. That really verges on stalky creepy behavior. Instead I’d like to give you a vision of the kind of relationship building that Twitter makes possible that is truly magic. This is a screenshot from a children’s book, The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

In it a little fox comes by. The plot here is this boy is quote un-quote an alien who has landed on a strange planet from space. The planet of course is Earth. He approaches everything with a sense of naivety and wonder and curiosity. He sees the fox. It’s pretty and he wants to play with it.

The fox says, no, no, no. You must tame me. You must come at the same time every day. You must be a little distance away and just allow me to gradually come to trust you. Then with time I will start to trust you and I will look forward to you. I will be tamed.

That is the kind of thing you are actually able to do with influencers on Twitter by not running in and asking them for something first. The best way to nurture these relationships is my four-word guide to Twitter. It really is this simple folks.

Listen. Learn from what you’re hearing. Care, genuinely care about how you’re interacting. Seek to serve. The five main points we went through today: don’t at spam. Reverse your mindset to really think first about what can you do for influencers to earn their attention, to earn their praise? Don’t touch the retweet button. Use the manual retweet, which is simply copy and pasting and adding your own little signature of information. Give credit where credit’s due. Stay classy.

Why would you at tweet, which is at spamming, when you can instead at connect? Here’s a detailed list of do’s and don’ts that I want all of you to try. You should be able to get these slides through the event. If not, I will make sure they go up on For example, instead of at spamming, you can take the time invest in researching for their contact info.

Instead of begging for someone’s attention, you can earn their attention by putting out an amazing piece of content. Instead of asking for a litany of different things from a follow back to a retweet or share to an at mention to help for your organization to the kind of bogus asks like will you check this out, will you give us feedback?

Really it means will you share? Instead, you want to follow them first. You want to retweet their stuff. You want to answer their questions. You want to provide help and if you really want them to share something, you better make sure they can see, very obviously and quickly what is in it for their audience.

Anyone who is good at social media is sharing stuff that they know will benefit their audience. I want to thank you all so much. To thank you as an audience, I’ve included links here to four completely free different tools that we make because we believe in helping others first.

Of course this diagram also shows you a quick overview of our paid tool does. Mainly I wanted to say thanks and offer you four quick free spots you can go for extra help and to improve your work. Thank you so much. Have a great afternoon.