By Domenica D'Ottavio published February 26, 2019

How to Use Twitter to Connect for Link Building

When it comes to link building, one tactic rises above the rest in effectiveness and ROI – content distributed through high-authority online publishers. To secure those links, you must connect with their journalists, editors, writers, or contributors.

That’s the time to turn to Twitter.

How can you pitch a high-quality article in 280 characters? You probably can’t. You have email for that. The real question is “How can you use Twitter to build authentic relationships with journalists, writers, and editors?”

Use #Twitter to build authentic relationships with writers & editors for link-building purposes, says @atdomenica. Click To Tweet

Two theories of interpersonal communication back up using Twitter as a tactic for relationship building – mere exposure effect and anonymity and the identifiable other.

The mere exposure effect can be understood in this way: Imagine walking to work via the same route at the same time and seeing the same people every day. One day, you have a morning doctor’s appointment and take a different route at a different time.

Unconsciously, you assign more trust to the people on the first route than on the second route. You find them to be more likable because they are familiar even though you likely don’t know anything about them on a personal level.

The anonymity-and-identifiable-other theory is equally straightforward. Take this example: You’re a pet owner and encounter two people. You know one volunteers at an animal shelter and the other is severely allergic to animals. Knowing nothing more, you’re more likely to perceive a personal connection with the animal shelter volunteer because he seems more likable to you.

Now let’s get to the nitty-gritty. How do you interact with writers, editors, and journalists with whom you’d like to eventually place content?

Step 1: Optimize your Twitter account

Ensure that your Twitter display name, bio, etc., are complete. Follow these best practices:

  • Include your full name or a combination of your name and initials.
  • Detail professional and personal information in your bio. Get creative. Be relatable.
  • Your timeline is an opportunity for you to share your personality. When you reach out to writers and editors, they’re likely to check your timeline before responding. A blank or sparse timeline (or only interactions for transactional purposes) presents a big red flag. Show the Twitterverse you are a human, not a PR robot.
  • Include a photo of yourself and update your header image. Take advantage of the mere exposure effect by using the same photo for your email and Twitter accounts. The more someone recognizes you, the more trustworthy you appear to be.
Use the same photo in #Twitter avatar as your email avatar to increase your recognition, says @atdomenica. Click To Tweet

Step 2: Create Twitter lists

Twitter lists can be a powerful tool. You can track a list of contacts who have responded favorably to your outreach, accepted your pitches, or published your content. Keeping them organized in a list allows you to pay closer attention to their activity, which can help you build better relationships over time.

You also can create a list of writers and editors with whom you’d like to have a relationship and interact with them organically, laying the groundwork for developing a deeper connection.

Another option is to build a Twitter list for a specific campaign. Include all the people to whom you intend to pitch the content. Then periodically interact with them leading up to your pitch release. By proactively getting your name and avatar in their notifications, you can ensure that the mere exposure effect is already working for you.

Step 3: Interact organically with writers, editors, and freelancers

Once your Twitter lists are set up, the fun begins. This step seems the least like work for me because I follow many personable, intelligent, and funny journalists and writers. You can spark a relationship on Twitter in many ways. The key is, and I say this with emphasis, be authentic. Don’t reply to a tweet if it doesn’t spark something in you. Don’t favorite a tweet you disagree with. Be yourself. It will work wonders in the long run.

Follow

Following writers is a great way to keep track of what they’re tweeting and get your name into their notifications. (Every time you follow someone, the person is alerted in his or her notifications.) I often check who follows me even if I don’t follow back. Following someone is the bare minimum when it comes to building relationships. Retweeting, replying, and sharing their work are the best ways to interact.

Favorite

Favoriting (or hearting) someone’s tweet is almost as low-effort as following, but it still has a ton of value. Favoriting or “liking” a tweet is also a good way to appreciate something a contact has tweeted. Keep in mind your favorited tweets are displayed on your Twitter page so if you go overboard or interact inauthentically, it will be obvious.

Don’t go overboard with favoriting tweets of your targets, says @atdomenica. Click To Tweet

Retweet

Retweeting gives you more exposure than following or favoriting. However, if you want to add a little oomph to your retweet, include a bit of your personality. Use humor, give a compliment, or share an opinion.

Reply

The more work you put into the interaction, the more likely the recipient is to respond. A reply is my favorite interaction to have with journalists, writers, and editors. If your reply is thoughtful enough, you could spark an authentic conversation and get noticed.

In my experience, the most effective tactic is to reply to something they wrote and engage in conversation about it. I once placed content with a journalist at Time’s Money after replying to three of her tweets over the course of a week. When I emailed my pitch, she accepted it within 10 minutes.

Rinse and repeat

Though I’ve shown you a systematic way to build relationships with journalists, writers, and editors, your effectiveness hinges on you engaging with a person authentically. You aren’t tweeting them because you want something. You’re tweeting them because you relate to them and hope to forge a real connection.

I usually like to interact with a writer a day or two before I send my pitch. They have time to see my name and avatar come up on their Twitter notifications. Later, they’ll recognize my name and avatar when they see it in their inbox.

The mere exposure effect only can take you so far. Building a relationship through Twitter isn’t a guarantee your pitch will be accepted. The editorial calendar could be full. The writer’s request could be declined by the editor. A vacation might mean they don’t see your tweets and thus are unfamiliar with you when they read your email.

Don’t feel dejected if you have a great Twitter conversation with a target and your pitch goes unnoticed or rejected. Using Twitter may not equal more placements every time, but it can be a great way to differentiate yourself from the hundreds of those pitching to journalists, writers, and editors every week.

Don’t let the relationship end with a single failed pitch. Authenticity demands that. Continue to have conversations with journalists in your topic vertical and, over time, they’ll likely realize you’re not just another PR robot and appreciate the effort you took to connect.

Build relationships with your fellow content marketers every Tuesday at noon (U.S. Eastern) in Content Marketing Institute’s Twitter Chat. Follow #CMWorld.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Domenica D'Ottavio

Domenica D'Ottavio is the brand relationship manager at Fractl, a boutique growth agency based in Delray Beach, FL. When she’s not musing over the latest developments in content and PR, you can find her planning her next international trip, likely over a bowl of risotto. Follow her on Twitter @atdomenica or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Other posts by Domenica D'Ottavio

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