Creator Outreach

Predictable Influence Part 2: How to reach out to influencers

How to create outreach systems for predictable growth
Posted on
May 14, 2022
3 minute read
Yash Chavan
Founder at SARAL

Once you have found and vetted the right influencers for your brand, the next step is to actually reach out to them. When you’ve taken the relationship-driven approach, you can’t go with a marketplace that facilitates (and owns) your relationships. You need to form them on your own.

After reading this article, you will know the best channels to reach creators on, how to follow up, how to get an unfair advantage to be noticed by them and some tips on optimising your chances of success. Buckle up.

Best channels to do creator outreach

If you ignore everything else and do just one thing, that should be emailing the creator. Emails, not DMs, are the best way to reach and get responses from creators. You can use tools like SARAL to send multi-week drips to creators. Using this would create a daily sending system for you so that you're not doing the busy work of sending emails manually and following up until they reply, it's all done for you!

Your email sequence inside SARAL

How to email influencers

If you don’t know yet, you can use SARAL’s chrome extension to find and vet creators for your brand. Once you have a list of creators, you should send them an email offering free product.

Read that line again, they keyword is offering. Normie brands fail because they reach out to creators asking them for posts. This does not work optimally or in the long run.

I wrote about this in-depth here: How to get more replies from influencers.

Some tried and tested subject lines:

  • Love your work! (collab?)
  • Collaboration with {Brand}
  • {Brand} Sponsorship for {Creator}
  • Partnership?
  • {Creator} x {Brand} - Brand collaboration
  • can I send you some {product}?

Just be straight and to the point, don’t try to clickbait or be fancy. Creators are more likely to open something that says "collaboration" or "partnership" than anything else (as it means money, and who doesn't like money?).

Your goal with the email is to get them interested enough to reply and learn more. Do not ask for a commitment and do not send them a creative brief, keep it short. I will write another email templates post, but understanding the fundamentals means you can come up with your own custom email and stand out.

How and when to DM influencers

Word of caution before you implement a DM strategy. Influencers with more than 10k-15k followers will rarely ever open your DMs, let alone notice them. So you’re better off sticking to DMing smaller influencers, I’ve had luck with creators who have less than 7k followers.

Influencer classification table for reference

I’ve shared some influencer DM templates before but let’s cover some first principles here so you’re able to create your own scripts.

  • Influencers’ inboxes are noisy. They get 100s of DM’s every week from fans, brands, and haters.
  • Larger creators do not check their DM’s very often.
  • All new DM’s land in the requests folder, not in the primary inbox.

There are all these blockers you need to keep in mind before you DM. Don’t let this push you away from DMing people though. Just keep in mind that you’ll have a way better time getting replies over email than over DM, solely due to the nature of the channel.

That being said, keep the following things in mind when writing your script:

  • Never ask for posts without forming a relationship first.
  • Do not send unpersonalised copy-pasted DMs.
  • Do not have a vague ask such as “Let’s talk”

The goal of your DM should be to either get their email address, or to get them to notice the emails you’ve been sending. It’s rare to get them to agree to a deal over DM (unless they’re already familiar with your brand).

Emails will always be your primary communication channel for influencers. DMs will remain a good secondary boost. But there are more things you can do to improve your odds of success with creator outreach.

How do brands get noticed by creators on social media

Comment on their posts

Comments can work better than DMs because they don’t get buried. Instead, they get shown to the creator, and they love seeing comments (it means more engagement for them!).

If you strictly just want to be noticed, comment on their second or third most recent post. This is because the recent post likely is buzzing with brand new comments and yours may get lost.

Leaving an actual thoughtful response, followed by a reminder to check their email/DM works well.

Reply to their stories

Even bigger creators tend to check their DM’s for replies to their stories. These are like “comments” on stories so it’s one way to stand out in the DMs. Again, make sure your reply is thoughtful and shares genuine feedback with the creator and you’re likely to receive a response.

Tag them in a story

This is an interesting way to get noticed by creators as story tags pop-up directly in notifications as: “1 story mentions you". All they need to do after this is to click on the story to view it. This will especially work if you have a quirky looking product that’s very relevant to them. For example, if you sell customised pet paintings, you can create a painting for their pet and tag them (and their pet!) in a story that shows the painting. It's so specific and special that they're more than likely to respond to you.

Post a story with your product in it, tag the creator, and say you want to send product to them. It’s a bit risky and out-there but it may help signal your commitment towards collaborating with them and get a response in return! It's simply costly signalling.

Engage in other ways

You can leave comments and replies when it’s in your interest, but the best strategy is still to just be a real member of the creator’s audience and occasionally leave likes, comments on their posts, attend their live sessions, sign up for their newsletter, etc. The more ways you engage with them, the higher your chances to get noticed.

You can connect with them on LinkedIn too. Most smaller creators also have main jobs. Their LinkedIn is likely less crowded and you can reach them there.

Obviously this does not scale, so you may want to reserve this just for superstar creators who’d be awesome to have.

Optimise your profile

So far we spoke about creators and your outreach to them. But there are some things you can do to your profile itself that’ll make you look more legit on social media, thus improving your chances for success.

  • Have a face in your profile photo: Don’t reach out from your brand’s account, it comes off as robotic. Humans like humans, so reach out from your personal account. You can always tag your brand in the actual DM or comment. You can go a step further and have the same photo across email and LinkedIn so they recognise you instantly.
  • Get verified: It’s social proof on social media. If you have a few public posts about yourself on the web, it’s worth it to apply for verification on Instagram.
  • Optimize your bio: Make sure your bio mentions your association with the brand. Eg: “Co-founder @brandname” so they know it’s not a bot or a random person DMing them.
Photo by Erik Lucatero on Unsplash

Build a routine for predictability

My goal with this series of "Predictable Influence" is to take the randomness out of influencer marketing. And it's on you to make this into a system for yourself to really see success with the influencer channel. Take everything you learned in this post and pace it out over a week. Set a weekly pace for emails, comments, DMs, tags, and so on.

They key is to set a weekly outreach cadence. Reach out to those many creators on a weekly basis, follow up with them in the DM’s and comments and optimise your profile for success. This way, you will predictably email and get responses from creators you want to work with.

In the next chapter of the “Predictable Influence” series, we’ll cover how to predictably make deals with big creators and make them long-term promoters of your brand. Sign up for our newsletter below to stay up to date!