I have a game I often play with myself when trying to connect with members of the press on Twitter that's quite reminiscent of the old game show "Name That Tune" where people make bets on how many notes they have to hear before they can name a song. In my game, I have been known to say out loud (to myself or to co-founder Katie): "I bet I can get them to connect with me in three tweets!" Who is "them"? Well often it's members of the media, but it can be anyone on Twitter who you want to connect with and who can make an impact on your business: retail stores, social media influencers, celebrities, potential cross-promotion partners - you name it!
Over the years I've honed my skills at connecting with people in person, via email and on social media, and while mastering my craft I've learned some tips and tricks that I'm going to pass on to you. Try them out, and see how many tweets it takes you to connect!
NOTE BEFORE STARTING: The key to powerful and successful communication on social media (and anywhere) is authenticity. What this means when you're reaching out to people on social media is that you're trying to connect with people who you've researched to be sure they are a good fit for you, followed and are sure could be part of a mutually beneficial relationship with you!
With that said - onward to the tips!
KICK UP YOUR RETWEET UP A NOTCH & RESPOND:
It's one thing to "retweet" something that someone says on Twitter. When you do this it says "I think what you said is so relevant/cool/inspiring that I'm sharing it with my followers." This is a great first step but if you want to create a meaningful relationship you need to kick it up a notch! After you retweet them I want you to then reply to their post and share what you liked, add to the conversation, throw some witty banter their way (if that's their style) and take the Twitter relationship to the next level!
MAKE A STATEMENT THAT INCLUDES THEIR HANDLE:
You can make amazing 140 character statements or ask great questions all day long on Twitter, but if someone isn't actively following your feed they'll never know. How do you remedy this? Include their Twitter handle in a statement that is related to them - be sure that you do not begin the Twitter post with their handle or you will limit the amount of people who will actually see it. Three ways to do this are:
Compliments: Compliment a story of theirs, an appearance they made, something they created, etc. Note: this has to be something you actually like or enjoyed - authenticity people! When you do this you're not only publicly complimenting them and sharing them with your feed, but they'll get an alert that someone has mentioned them on Twitter and be made aware that you do exist and that you like them! Who doesn't love that kind of one-two power combo!
Questions: Did they write an article or blog post you liked? Appear on air in a story that intrigued you? Make a statement that got you thinking? Ask them a question about it or dig deeper, using their Twitter handle so that you are able to get their attention. If they respond, keep the conversation going for a tweet or two, which will really let you (virtually) connect with them.
Sharing Things They May Like (that are not your business): If you have been following a person on Twitter that you want to connect with and really understand what they cover, what their interests are and what their likes and dislikes are, you may see something that you think they would be interested in (an article, an image, a gif, meme, you name it). Why not share this with them? I once grew a relationship with a local reporter by leaps and bounds when I sent her wacky cat photos (she had a clear love for them). What I was really doing was sharing that I "get" her and what she does and loves. This was all long before I "pitched" her on the social platform. It's been love ever since.
DON'T MAKE YOUR FIRST CONTACT AN ASK:
Imagine if the first time you ever met someone in "real life" (i.e.., face to face, not on social media) they didn't even introduce themselves or get to know you and went straight for an "ask" related to how you could help them. You'd probably be smiling on the outside and thinking, "who is this person" on the inside. The same goes for Twitter. The first point of contact you make with someone should never be an ask. If you've been following them for awhile you should make sure your first points of contacts are: retweets, replies, questions, favorites and so forth. They most likely will then recognize you and your brand when you actually do make the ask, which leads us to the next tip...
GO FOR "THE ASK" THE RIGHT WAY:
Let's face it, when you finally decide to ask someone if you can connect with someone off Twitter and in the real world, the pressure is on. Not only is this a heavy ask, but you have to do it in 140 characters or less. My advice on how to make this happen? Just do it. Cleary and succinctly. Don't overpromise, oversell or overcomplicate it. If you're both following each other DM (direct message) them. If not, just ask them on Twitter publicly. Begin with their handle and proceed to ask:
@SusieSnowflake Love your articles! I'd love to email you something I think would be perfect for your column, where shall I send it?
@SusieSnowflake How best can I connect w you regarding Susies Cookies and my biz Dessert Deliveries? Thanks!
@SusieSnowflake I'd love to shoot a quick question to you over email, how can I do that? Thanks!
A FEW NOTES ON THAT EMAIL YOU'RE GONNA SEND...
If you follow these steps I'm guessing that YES you're going to get the tweet that invites you to take your social media relationship to the next level: email. A few pointers for you before you follow through:
Don't wait ages to email them, do it as soon after you receive their tweet with their contact details.
Include a reference to your social media handle in the subject line and the body of the email.
Don't "talk Twitter" on an actual email. Though you may have spent several tweets speaking in abbreviated language and slang on Twitter, email is a step up, and your writing style on it should be the same. Be clear, concise, grammatically correct and professional. Respect the person you are writing. Include a salutation. Create an ask that is mutually beneficial. Basically pitch or email them as you would any professional contact, and you'll be able to grow a relationship off of Twitter as quickly as you do on it!