How to Network with Influential People Using Twitter

social media how toDo you want to use Twitter to promote your business?

Are you looking for ways to build relationships that matter on Twitter?

In this article, you’ll discover how to build a strong Twitter community with influencers, which will benefit your business.

Building Connections With Twitter

Using Twitter to help your company grow isn’t about the number of followers you have.

It’s about building a community of followers who are passionate about your industry and who eventually become passionate about your brand.

The quickest and easiest way to develop a relevant Twitter community that grows your company is to find connectors and build relationships with them.

Connectors are called many things: thought leaders, industry experts, etc. They are the people who already have a thriving community and your customer’s ear.

istock-image-find-your-connectors

You can benefit from forming relationships with connectors on Twitter. Image source: iStockPhoto.

By building relationships with influencers, you increase the chances of gaining your customer’s ear and building your own strong community.

#1: Find the Influencers in Your Current Network

The best place to find connectors is in your current community; find influencers who are already following you.

By using Followerwonk, you can see your current Twitter followers ranked by a Followerwonk statistic known as social authority.

Followerwonk’s social authority is based on the retweet rate of users’ last few hundred tweets, the recentness of those tweets and a retweet-based model trained on user profile data. This number is by no means perfect, but retweets are so strongly correlated with a healthy community that they’re a great way to identify relationships that you should pursue.

Even if the person has a great social authority rank, they’re not worth reaching out to unless they’re involved in your industry. It’s not just about having a community—it’s about building the right community.

social-authority-graph

Find influencers in your network by selecting the higher numbers in the right column.

#2: Know Your Competitors’ Connections

One of the great things about Twitter is transparency. From @google to @smexaminer, you can see everything everyone is saying. This makes competitive research super-accessible.

Your competitors have networks that likely include influencers who are directly related to your industry. To find these people, follow the same process you followed above, but use each competitor’s Twitter handle instead of your own.

Another tool that can help you find your competitors’ useful friends is Open Site Explorer.

Type in your competitor’s URL and go to the Just-Discovered tab to see the recent inbound links your competitors have gotten.

open-site-explorer

Here are the recent links to Social Media Examiner. Use the Just-Discovered tab on Open Site Explorer to find the recent inbound links for your competitor’s website.

These are people who find your competitor’s content valuable enough to link to. It’s worth your time to build a relationship with them so they’ll link to your content next time.

#3: Search for Influencers in Your Niche

There are several tools you can use to do this, but Followerwonk allows you to drill down to a niche in your search.

You can use social authority as your guide here, but it’s more important to zero in on the person’s focus. People who are directly involved in what your company values will be a better fit for your community.

For example, a digital strategy company that partners with HubSpot would do better to target an inbound marketing B2B HubSpot user instead of a general marketing user.

followerwonk-report

The more focused your search, the better your results.

To start off, build a list of 15-20 people from these categories who would be great to nurture relationships with—people who aren’t only influential, but also align with your company’s value and vision. Five of these people should feel a little bit out of your reach and seem larger-than-life in your industry.

#4: Follow and Interact With People on Twitter

To build your community, you need to focus on the conversations you have.

Quick tip: If you reply directly to a person, it will only show up in their feed and the feeds of people who follow you both. If you include your response in a retweet rather than a reply, it’ll show up for all of the people who follow both of you.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you may not have the courage to connect with in real life. In my experience, people are surprisingly responsive on Twitter.

Make sure when you do reach out, you bring value. Offer help, your opinion and a kind word. Don’t ask for anything, including a follow-back. You’re trying to build a relationship and you do this by being a giver.

#5: Set Up Alerts to Track Where Your Influencers Are Mentioned or Post Online

This can be done with Google Alerts, Fresh Web Explorer or a number of other tools.

Use the alerts to find where your industry influencers share their thoughts on the web outside of Twitter.

google-alerts

Get an email every time your influencer is mentioned on the web.

When you find a good article they’ve written or a place they’re mentioned, share it on Twitter to shine the light on them. Again the key is to help them, not you.

#6: Add Value Outside of Twitter

Now that you know every time the influencers you follow are mentioned across the web, the number of ways you can promote them, point people toward their relevant resources and maintain relationships with them are wide open to you.

Share events they’re speaking at, books they write and causes they support. Comment on their blogs and help them in all ways possible.

thank-you-tweet

Use Twitter to say thank you.

Each of these actions will help increase the likelihood that your influencers are receptive to your Twitter advances.

Conclusion

The goal of these tactics isn’t to trick or con anyone into following or helping you. The goal is to build genuine relationships.

Apply these tactics to your own strategy. As you identify influencers and add value on Twitter, you’ll build a community that shows exponential results.

What do you think? Have you found any great ways to jump-start an effective Twitter community? Please leave your questions and comments in the box below.

Images from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, Jason Kosarek

Jason Kosarek, Digital Strategist at LyntonWeb, an inbound marketing agency and Gold Level HubSpot Partner focused on helping clients generate leads, thrill customers, and reach goals through inbound marketing programs. Other posts by »




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  • Richard Young

    Another great tool for this is Twtrland.com @Twtrland – great for pulling out influencers by skill sets and interest.

  • http://indispensablemarketing.com/ Patrick McFadden

    To build your community, you need to focus on the conversations you have. It’s all about the context you have with real people, not about the number of followers you have. Totally agree!

  • Ben Heligman

    FYI for Quick tip #4: If you reply to a tweet and just add a period (.) at the beginning of the tweet your response will also show up for all of the people who follow both of you.

  • Jason Kosarek

    Thanks for the comment Ben, Good tip!

  • Jason Kosarek

    Absolutely Patrick being human is key. My colleague wrote a great article about it here: http://socialmediatoday.com/lyntonweb/1718936/inbound-marketing-tips-humanizing-your-company-social-media

  • http://www.wearerecurve.com/ Bradley Robb

    This article is conflating influence (or worse the idea that an influence can be static and a person) with the idea of social authority. They are two distinct and separate things.

    Numerous studies have concluded that “influencers” have no greater statistical chance of influencing others than normal people do when the influencers are chosen before hand.

    This is why it’s important to separate authorities as potential platforms (in a broadcast sense) from the desire to leverage those individuals as a source of true influence (able to create an impact that turns a decision from one end to another in a true causal sense).

  • Jason Kosarek

    I appreciate you sharing your thoughts Bradley! I agree that influence is a more complicated than a metric like social authority. I like the way you broke down the two different types of influence in your last paragraph. Do you happen to know an article that digs into that idea further?

  • http://www.wearerecurve.com/ Bradley Robb

    There are a several out there. Duncan Watts is one of the lead researchers in the field – and he’ll put out a really good paper every year or two.

    Here’s an assortment of links on the topic:

    Light read – http://www.fastcompany.com/641124/tipping-point-toast
    Academic read – http://misc.si.umich.edu/media/papers/wsdm333w-bakshy.pdf
    Self-promotion – here: http://www.wearerecurve.com/blog/myth-influencer-marketing/

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  • AmandahBlackwell

    Great points!

    I like participating in Twitter chats. Not only do you learn from others, you can make great connections and build and develop your community.

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  • Jason Kosarek

    Thanks Amanda! Good point about Twitter chats. They can be an easy place to find and interact with an already established community.

  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    These are really great tips, Jason. Building relationships via Twitter is one of my main objectives and these are all great tips for connecting with connectors. My focus is a little more broad, but I think executing some of these strategies would definitely help grow my network quicker and in a more meaningful way.

    I especially think adding value outside of Twitter is so important. Real life relationships are complex and online ones should be more than just about one topic on one network.

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Hi Jason! Thanks for the recommended tools and the tips you’ve provided here. Engagement and building that personal connection is really the best way to create a community on Twitter. Thanks again!

  • http://www.shop.graciousstore.com/ Gracious Store

    This is a very enlighten a very good way to get really involved in twitter.
    Thanks

  • Laura Elgueta

    Thank you Jason! Easy to follow tips but more importantly, you stress the importance of building relevant and genuine relationships. Giving first, without expecting anything in return, is great advice for life in general ;)

  • Pritpal

    i have been struggling with twitter and this article helps me get aware and now I need a plan. Thanks for the great article and tips for using it for business.

  • Kapoor Ajay

    Loved this piece, thanks!

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  • Jason Kosarek

    Excellent. Thanks Bradley!

  • Jason Kosarek

    Thanks Kapoor!

  • Jason Kosarek

    Twitter can be challenging when you start, but is my favorite social platform because of how open it is. Everyone can see everything (almost) everyone else is doing.

  • Jason Kosarek

    Thanks Laura! You’re exactly right. Building relationships online is and in person isn’t all that different.

  • Jason Kosarek

    The step “adding value outside of Twitter” is the one I am personally working hardest to try and improve on. It is (as you said) complex. Do you have any suggestions on other ways to do this outside of what was mentioned in the article? Thanks for the comment Sarah!

  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    Thanks for the reply, Jason! One thing I strive for (within Twitter) is consistent participation in Twitter chats, as well as seeking out new ones as much as I can to see new faces (avatars). Outside of Twitter, I think Quora is a great place to add value. You can dig really deep and provide answers to genuine problems or issues.

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  • Foodlovertour

    Hi, I’m Matt from Food Lover Tour in Barcelona, Spain. This article give me information about the way I’ve got to “prospect” it is not just a “clic on me” that’s why also Blogs can be very useful when it comes to “share”. Thank you very much! let see how it goes :-)

  • http://www.BenjaminNewcomb.com/ Ben Newcomb

    This is a really great post! I especially like the thought of adding value to the people you want to meet outside of Twitter. I am going to start hunting down the blogs of some of the people I follow immediately and do just that! Thanks for this post!

  • John Waghorn

    Nice post Jason and a cracking resource for
    businesses too.

    I like the bit you mentioned about people becoming connected with your brand as opposed to the number of followers you have – a loyal following is pretty important in the social sphere.

    Building relationships takes time, but it’s worth it and it ultimately facilitates your marketing efforts too. Followerwonk is a good tool to use and competitor research is also a good tact.

    Essentially, once you’ve made these relationships your own, they become more personal to you and your brand. Thanks for sharing.

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  • David J Caron

    Hi, this doesn’t seem to make sense as to the difference between these two things, since it seems to give the same outcome for both a reply and a re-tweet.. “Quick tip: If you reply directly to a person, it will only show up in their feed and the feeds of people who follow you both. If you include your response in a retweet rather than a reply, it’ll show up for all of the people who follow both of you.”… Aren’t they both the same thing ?









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