Peak Outreach: Don’t Bug Influencers – Follow Engagers
Over the years so called influencer marketing has become the new standard.
For a few years it is difficult to reach out to an influencer. After all such successful people were always busy.
These days with everybody and their aunt practicing influencer outreach.
Thus it’s almost impossible to connect with real influencers by now. They get inundated with requests and messages.
Can so called engagers be the viable alternative to the influencer hype?
Who are influencers in the first place? How do we deal with peak outreach? Let me explain below!
By influencers I don’t mean moderately successful people like myself. I mean the top dogs of the attention economy.
With flocks of people using tools like BuzzSumo etc. every marketing blog recommends it’s next to impossible to get attention from influencers.
Why? Influencers not only are busy as ever but now they have to deal with a flood of outreach messages that look more or less the same. Additionally
outreach has become a bit deplorable over the years
and sadly often resembles SPAM messages. How do I know? I get a lot of outreach messages for SEO 2.0 and because of my other – mostly dormant – blog.
I also write about cycling in German but most of the time I don’t do it for lack of time or rather funding. Yet, basically every day I get PR messages of all kinds.
With even more advanced tools like Buzzstream‘s Discovery search engine high profile influencers for any given topic (here [SEO]) just require a click to find:
You do not only find AJ Ghergich aka @seo but also
and others who are not my peers today anymore, because of their stellar success and huge following. Each one of them has tens of thousands of followers on Twitter alone.
Even though they follow me back the attention economy is against me. They are by far too busy to listen to my grumpy tweets.
Peers vs Influencers
Over the years I have been advising to band together with like-minded individuals and to focus your efforts on socializing with peers.
In a way that’s the opposite of “influencer ass-kissing“. Yet with peers you also assume that there is some kind of hierarchy based on authority or popularity.
Peers are less influential than influencers and thus there is not already a huge group of people trying to get their attention.
This time I’d like to go a step further and get rid of this hierarchy altogether. Dump the influence metrics!
Do not solely focus on the already controversial Klout score or whatever other tools like the aforementioned BuzzSumo provide.
Instead of trying to use other people to get what you want try not to treat them as solely a means to an end.
Socialize with other people who actively socialize with you. I call them engagers. In fact in 2015 I radically changed my social media approach after realizing that neither high profile influencers nor low key lurkers will help me.
Both influencers with huge audiences and passive lurkers won’t even respond most of the time when I talk to them.
The only people that matter are those who listen and respond. All others are basically not even there.
Ever since I try to reorganize my whole social media experience by predominately looking up first and foremost what my engagers say and share.
I converse with real people like you and me instead of trying to follow larger than life experts or wasting time on trying to make lurkers respond to me.
How does that look actually? I have a prioritized stream for the few dozens of engagers I follow closely using a Twitter list.
The Agony of Organic Reach
For many years it was enough to garner a large following on social media. You could depend on at least some of these people to see your updates and to spread the word about them.
In recent years however fewer and fewer people will even see what you say or share. Social Media sites have implemented algorithms that prefer already popular people and content.
Since 2015 I focused on engagers because most social media sites have throttled organic reach in an algorithmic way.
You may have thousands of followers but they either won’t see your updates at all or they will ignore them because they get inundated with so many others.
People can’t focus on each update and every one they follow. They will rather check out their close friends’ messages or those by superstars than yours then.
I always preferred online friends who share the same interests and ideals with me.
Just because I have met someone in school does not mean I have the same favorites. Also I prefer to meet real life friends in person.
In the worst case you ostracize someone by sharing the wrong political opinion or some thing else deemed controversial by them.
Engagers Listen and React
I haven’t really made up the word engager myself. It exists on the Web it seems already. Yet the way I use the term might differ from the general population’s understanding of it.
Let’s recapitulate then: engagers are those people who are
They listen to what you say and look up what you share. Then they like you based on the content you create or curate. You might have the wrong
- place of birth
- skin color
- political affiliations
or whatever but they agree with you on what shareable content is.
You may think such people do not even exist in real life let alone on the Web! Here are some examples of engagers (and their blogs) who have engaged with me and supported me recently:
I had no choice when I decided to write for a global audience. Living and working in Germany made me a bit of an outcast. I couldn’t just socialize with German people I know first hand.
Also why would I limit myself to the German speaking population? I’m not even German. I have been born in Poland and I still can’t even take part in elections here after 30 years.
The German blogosphere is still small and often obnoxious. I remember a guy who was suffering from depression and who tried to set up the first Problogger-like blog in German.
He got cyber-bullied by other German bloggers who attacked him so viciously he had to give up.
Ever since I fled the former dictatorship in Poland as a kid I haven’t been fond of traveling.
This is one of the reasons why I have been only once to the UK and the US and have no real life friends there left.
The only way to socialize with native speakers then was to seek out like-minded individuals sharing the same values and interests.
I do not travel to conferences but I do socialize actively on the Web without significant automation. When I share I do it manually and respond to feedback or am thankful for actual engagement.
I may appear like the last of the Mohicans using this approach but not all users are influencers, lurkers or bots either.
They do not always have huge or even substantial follower numbers but they are there, they listen and they respond. In short they are supportive.
Why would I bother influencers who everybody else is already bugging then?
* (CC BY 2.0) Creative Commons image by John McSporran
Thanks for mentioning BuzzStream…and for providing feedback on BuzzStream Discovery ! As we discussed on twitter, if you’re looking for mid-tier bloggers/influencers, you can use filters in the product to do this. For example, you can filter your search results to only show people who write for pubs that have a Domain Authority between 20 and 50.
BuzzStream, co-founder and CEO
Thank you for providing such an awesome influencer research tool, especially now that Apple killed Topsy!
Thank you for the tip with the filters! I overlooked them at first.
It’s extremely important not just to randomly approach the “larger than life” top influencers found on top by default as everybody else is trying to get their attention already!
I loved your article. So damn true! I’m currently after influencers and it’s close to mission impossible. You stand a point, I am eager to try your approach! But can you give me some tips on how to find and approach engaged see myself?
Thanks for the kind feedback! Just say hello and who ever responds may be a potential engager. When it happens more than once add that person to your list of favorite people.
Appreciate the advice! Thank you for the valuable piece once again, it’s an eye-opener.
I will try your advice and start to filter the friendly guys (engagers) from the cold kings and queens that never pay attention to average guys :-)
Btw, I am putting together an expert roundup on the upcoming Penguin. Mind if I ask you the quick question so that you participate too? I’d be honored.
There is something between influencers and engagers. Take me for instance: I’m definitely not an influencer (at least not online) and I wouldn’t consider myself an engager neither. If someone approaches me on twitter and I notice, I will respond – provided I have time to do so. If not, it might seem like I don’t care – and that’s absolutely ok for me. But if somebody gets in touch with me, I’m trying to make it a good experience. Am I online 24/7? Do I spend 6 hours a day on social media networks? No and no. Do I want to be available to anyone anytime? Certainly not. Am I trying to be polite, friendly and helpful if I get the chance to? Yes, definitely. This wouldn’t be any different if I had 1 million followers. It’s a matter of principle. I don’t want my smart phone to be like an intravenous internet injection – for many good reasons that go far beyond this discussion (…). To completely switch off all internet devices whenever possible is the best advice I can give lol. I hope you get my point, Tad. And how can one compensate not being online all the time? Automation is the answer – and I’m a big fan of it, no secrecy here at all. But I’m also a real person you can talk to – just not all around the clock. Oh…and one last thing regarding so called influencer marketing: if you break it down it’s nothing but a strategically planned and executed ongoing deliberate manipulation of a target person for your own benefit. Not to noblest of motives, to say the least. I mean that sounds like the behavior of a sociopath, doesn’t it?! And by the way: in real life only mentally unstable people send love letters to stars in anticipation of a speedy wedding lol! In real life nobody would talk to someone that never ever responds, so why online? Apart from this, people shouldn’t ask what others could do for them, they should ask themselves what they could do for others – this change of mind would make a great difference in the world. Trying to be a good person is always the right decision, this also applies to marketing if you want to build a sustainable business.
Thanks again for the kind feedback and also the opportunity. I may not be the best expert on Penguin but I’ll try my best.
Just shoot me a mail with the exact question!
Thank you for sharing your deep insights with us. To be honest I agree wholeheartedly with most of what you’re saying. It sounds like common sense to me but it’s not that common these days.
Automation is a bit of a double-edged sword. That’s why I haven’t used it yet on social media. I hated answering machines for at least a decade before I started recording messages on them as well!
Just sent you an email to onreact (at) onreact.com.
Thanks again and keep in touch ;-)
Unfortunately you’re absolutely right with your assessment regarding common sense, I think. There are multiple reasons for that and the outcome is that people can be manipulated too easy – no need to read Cialdini at all…
I’ve never used an answering machine and I still not use a mailbox today – I’m happy ‘bout every call I miss ;-)
These days it’s hard to not work with automation – but it surely has some negative aspects though, no doubt ‘bout that, Tad!
By following your tweets for quite some time now I already assumed that we would have sooome things in common…I mean not too many people know Eckhart Tolle for instance or read articles like the one by Walter Kirn you shared some days ago…assuming to know you a bit I recommend reading this piece about Elon Musk http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/05/elon-musk-the-worlds-raddest-man.html – interesting and entertaining aswell.
However I hope it’s ok for you that I share all your blog updates on autopilot (I know they are good) – keep up the excellent work and take care Tad!
Its always a challenge to find responsive influence’s good post thanks for sharing!
Well, don’t be so modest, you are an influencer, at least for me :)
Nowadays, dilution is everywhere, in content, on social media shares, in outreach email. I think this will help us to raise our quality standards and increase our filters. We might face that during some years, but I have the feeling that the tendency will reverse sooner or later.
I actually remember browsing the web in the 90’s, when there was like 1000 websites in French language only. At that time I had the feeling of a big warm family. When someone published something, there was no way to be an ass-kisser because not only social media were not invented yet, but comment didn’t exist yet. So, you were sharing your opinion, and only your readers were counting.
Yeah, thank you Jice!
On good days I may exert some influence but most of the time I’m just an average guy like everybody else. In fact I have to reach out to real influencers on behalf of clients. These are people who have so many followers, visitors etc. they will simply ignore you.
Yes, I also remember the early Web of the nineties, I started using it in 1997 and it felt different than now. This was before automated spam so every email was exciting.
That said I don’t want the old Web back or “make the Internet great again”. There is no return to an imaginary past. We need to adapt to the present and there are not enough influencers for everybody to market to.
Honoured to be mentioned in such good company, thanks Tad! :)
You’re welcome! It’s well deserved. I’m glad to have in my inner circle of engagers!
Hi Tad! thanks for the tips. This was very helpful. I was wondering, which social media platform do you think is best to use when engaging with influencers?
Thank you for the kind feedback!
Very good question. I’m afraid it depends though. For example I suck at Facebook.
Personally I mostly use Twitter because it’s quite open and you don’t have to be friends in real life already to talk to people.
It also depends on where the people you want to reach are at.
Sometimes I use LinkedIn, sometimes Facebook when I see that they are not using Twitter actively or solely automate it.
Ideally you can connect by mail. Depending on rented space is always risky.
Don’t focus on famous influencers though. They rarely respond. Socialize with your peers.
RE: ” I was wondering, which social media platform do you think is best to use when engaging with influencers?”
Twitter is more intimate and easier to communicate with people.
I totally agree w/ Tad about not chasing famous influencers. When I started on twitter I made it a point to not even follow any influencers unless they followed me first, and lots of them eventually did (and some even spoke to me directly occasionally). I tweeted links to articles written by influencers, but that was just natural because lots of them DO have good content (@MarkWSchaefer comes to mind and @JeremySaid, @BMassey +many others obviously).
People often wanna jump right in to “engaging with influencers” but think of it like dating; you don’t walk over and start chatting up a super-model while over-weight, jobless, and living in your mom’s basement. Build up some cred first, show her (influencers) that other people are interested in you and what you’re doing. It’s like a screening/curation system for them. They can’t talk to everybody, so they only talk to people that lot of other people have already vetted for them (models and influencers).
Thadeusz, nice article brother, great speaking to you this morning ON TWITTER :-)
Excellent advice. Thank you! I can’t even add much to it!
Reminds me of my metaphor that relationship building is not a one night stand.
Thanks Tad for the tips! :) Means a lot
Hey, thanks for sharing your valuable approach, you are just awesome, I will start filtering friendly guys.