Twitter Influencers: How to Find and Connect with Them

Twitter Influencers: How to Find and Connect with Them

As one of the oldest social networks still in existence, Twitter has a relatively storied history. As part of this history, Twitter has been a major source of news, thought leadership, and political wrangling. However, like its younger counterparts, Twitter is also a place where people look for product insights as well as to engage with brands. For that reason, I believe that this network has a place in the evolution of influencer marketing. Let’s look at how to find and collaborate with Twitter influencers.

Why Twitter – and Twitter Influencers – Still Matter

In spite of its long history, some people in the marketing industry question why Twitter is still relevant for today’s brands. I’m here to tell you that it’s still a major force in thought leadership. Along with that thought leadership comes the ability to influence people, even in terms of products and services. Of course, you don’t even need to do sponsored Tweets to influence people to buy things. Instead, there are lots of people who will buy just because someone famous likes something.

For sure, Twitter isn’t the latest thing, but this can be advantageous. Twitter users tend to be a little bit older than those found on Instagram, and much older than the TikTok or Snapchat crowd. Using Twitter allows your brand to reach somewhat different demographics than newer networks without completely ignoring the young and hip. Remember, younger people invented Twitter.

Here’s another reason why Twitter influencers matter: they’re still effective. In fact, one study shows that 40% of Twitter users admit to being directly influenced by Tweets. Furthermore, Twitter is holding its own against the competition in terms of engagement rates. According to a recent study, Instagram has a falling engagement rate. By contrast, both Twitter and Facebook are holding steady. Here, the moral of the story is clear: Twitter influencers are still an effective way to market products and services.

Further Reading: 21 X / Twitter User Statistics for 2024 to Guide Your Marketing

How to Find Twitter Influencers

Before you can plan any kind of influencer marketing campaign, you need to know where to find Twitter influencers. After deciding what kind of people to work with, the next job is influencer discovery. Although I’ve written a lot on this topic, most people don’t think that Twitter works the same way. With that in mind, here are some tools to help you. Many are the same as for other networks, while others are different. Luckily, there are many Twitter tools available.

One of the easiest ways to find Twitter influencers is by using Google. Generally speaking, there are several ways to use this search engine. Let’s say you want to find thought leaders. Here, you’ll want to do relevant Google searches to see who is writing on certain topics. Then, look for the ones who have active Twitter accounts. From here, you’ll be able to evaluate their profiles for suitability.

Another way to use Google is by searching for the topic together with “Twitter.” This will turn up results of Tweets on a given topic. As you find people talking about that topic frequently, you will eventually find the Twitter influencers you’re looking for. Finally, if you want to know if a particular person is a Twitter influencer than Google them to see if they have a profile, and check it over if they do.

An example of an influencer marketing search on Twitter.

Another way to locate Twitter influencers is to search Twitter itself. In this case, you’ll primarily use hashtags. First, be sure to see who is using your branded hashtags and those of your competitors. People who talk about relevant products and services on a regular basis might be influencers. Here, you’re looking for the ones who don’t also Tweet about a lot of unrelated topics. Those users probably are just casual observers.

Another way to use Twitter search is by using filters. If your brand is in a crowded field, like beauty or travel, then you’ll get a lot of results with simple hashtag searches. With advanced search, you can tell Twitter not to return results that are clearly just “ordinary” users. Even better, you can leverage this tool to find Twitter influencers who fit within certain demographics. This will make your life easier.

Lastly, use Twitter Search to find relevant conversations or chat rooms. Here, you can hang out to see who talks about related products and services. Over time, you will see who is more influential, and who might be trying to become an influencer. These people can be put on a watch list or followed to see if they are suitable right away.

Further Reading: Twitter Advanced Search: Guide on How to Search for Tweets

Use BuzzSumo

Search for influencer marketing Twitter influencers on BuzzSumo.

If you don’t mind paying for it, BuzzSumo is a great tool. Not only do they help you find Twitter influencers, but they also provide other information. For one thing, they cover more than just Twitter so you can see content in multiple places. Essentially, with BuzzSumo influencer searches the goal is to see what’s trending within the niche. This quickly turns up the people involved with any discussion.

However, BuzzSumo does more than just identify people. Instead, it gives you examples of the content they produce. This means you can run the name of an influencer through the program. You’ll get analytics in addition to content lists, which gives you more information from the outset. Want more time to decide? You can set up monitoring alerts on the person to see what they do over a few days or weeks.

Finally, one thing I like about BuzzSumo is that they do a lot more than help find influencers. You can use them as social monitoring for any topic you want, though you’ll usually stick with your niche. This helps a lot with market research and competitor surveillance. In other words, it’s a single tool with multiple functions. There’s even an API available for more functionality. Of course, other Twitter tools can help in similar ways.

Find Twitter Lists of Influencers

You can find Twitter Lists compiled by any user by going to @username/lists.

Embedded within Twitter itself are Twitter lists. So, let’s say you want to follow social media marketing. There’s a list for nearly every topic under the sun, many of which are built by marketers. To find lists, go to your homepage and click on the “lists” icon. This is in the same toolbar as your messages and notifications.

Once you’ve clicked on this, you can create a list of your own. Typically, for this situation you will add people you already know are thought leaders on Twitter. In turn, you can find out if they maintain any lists themselves, then subscribe if the list is relevant. You’ll be able to see a lot of different people who are interested in the same topic, and over time this will help fine new Twitter influencers.

Keep in mind, lists can also be made around your hobbies or other interests. For instance, I have several lists that deal with food, travel, and overall great content creators. The lesson here is that by thinking out of the box you can find great lists in places you wouldn’t have thought of right away.

Further Reading: Twitter Lists: 11 Awesome Ways to Leverage Them for Marketing

Use a Social Listening Tool

Example of #influencermarketing Twitter search on the social listening tool Brand24.

Finally, finding Twitter influencers is easy with any social listening tool. As many of you know, the goal of social listening is to see what people are saying about your brand. However, there’s more to it. Properly performed, social listening reveals the entire discussion within a particular niche. With practice, almost all of us can effectively find out what is going on in the social world. This information can be applied for reputation management, market research, and more.

Using your social listening results to find Twitter influencers is easy. Make sure that you’re monitoring the competition as well as your own brands. Over time, the same people will show up in reports covering multiple aspects of your niche, and you may be able to collaborate. Once these people are identified, you’ll want to decide which ones are suitable.

Further Reading: The 21 Best Social Listening Tools to Monitor and Empower Your Marketing

How to Connect with Twitter Influencers

Found a few Twitter influencers who you think would make great collaboration partners? Congratulations! Connecting with influencers is also challenging. This is because influencers often get approached by multiple competing brands, all of whom want to engage. Sometimes being the “winner” requires standing out above the crowd.

Send Social Signals

Unless a Twitter influencer has already approached you or has a close affiliation, the first step is to interact with their content. First, be sure to follow them on Twitter. Not only does this help to increase their following, but as you send out social signals these will show up on the feeds of people who follow you. Next, be sure to share the Twitter influencers’ content. At the same time, don’t forget to @mention your Twitter influencers. This tells them that you are really interested in what they have to say.

Once you’ve gotten their attention, it’s time to start a conversation. When just the right Tweet comes along, you can comment on what they have to say. Even more than an @mention, comments prove that you are interested in engaging. Hopefully, they will respond further, which results in a longer conversation. By now you should know if this is the right influencer for your next campaign.

Slide into the DM after building rapport and start an open-ended conversation to collaborate!

Remember, working with influencers is a reciprocal relationship. You are borrowing their followers to deliver a commercial message, and for that reason the influencer is valuable. It’s important that influencers never feel you’re “using” them. For that reason, I only recommend pitching them for a paid collaboration once you have built up rapport.

Chances are, if the influencer is experienced than he or she will know at this point that you have a collaboration in mind. However, it will be to your advantage that you’ve built a relationship with this person. It gives you a significant advantage over the brands who just pitch collabs without prior contact. Not only does this boost the chance of getting your wish, but it’ll make the collaboration much more meaningful.

While Twitter isn’t the most popular network for influencer marketing, it is still relevant. Just like other networks, you have to find and connect with the right influencers to be successful, even though the competition isn’t as stiff. By following these principals, you should be able to build the right relationships and collaborations to benefit everyone.

Further Reading: How to Use Twitter for Business: 15 Definitive Tips to Help You Master Tweeting

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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

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