The reasons why social influencers aren’t responding to you

Influencer marketing seems simple enough: You make a pitch to an influencer (someone with a large social following or significant influence in your industry). That person shares your content or mentions you to his or her followers. And, immediately, you get a surge of attention and interest.

Yes, this is how it’s supposed to go — but that’s the simplified version. Most newcomers to the field of influencer marketing end up getting ignored; no matter whom they choose or how carefully they word their messages, they never get a response.

So, what gives?

1. You aren’t targeting the right people.

One of the most common culprits is a simple targeting issue: You aren’t reaching out to the best influencers available to you. This could be because:

· Your targets aren’t relevant to your industry.

· Your targets aren’t very active.

· Your targets don’t collaborate with others.

· Your targets are too high or low on the “totem pole.”

Or, it could be from a combination of these and other factors. In any case, you need to dig deeper when researching prospective influencers. You can start by broadening your search, using social and content discovery tools like BuzzSumo or Little Bird to find new prospects. Also, make sure you get to know influencers before you contact them; know their areas of expertise, how they communicate with others and just how influential they are.

2. You don’t have a reputation.

If you don’t have a reputation of your own, it’s unlikely you’ll attract any attention. Top names in an industry have hundreds of thousands of followers; they get thousands of messages and notifications every day from individual users who blend into a mass of white noise.

If you want to stand out in this feed, make a name for yourself. This isn’t a quick fix, but it will help you get your foot in the door to bigger, more powerful influencers in the future. Start by creating more valuable content via exterior publishers, and network with stepping-stone influencers until you start getting recognised for your work.

3. You went straight for the ‘ask’.

“Hi, my name’s Michael and I was hoping you’d share this valuable piece of content I created!”

Tweets and social messages have to be concise, but that doesn’t mean you should cut to the chase this quickly. If you immediately ask an influencer for a favour, that person is going to tune you out immediately.

Think about it this way: If a stranger came up to you on the street and asked you for ten dollars, would you hand it over? What if a friend made you dinner, spent a lovely evening with you, then asked to borrow ten dollars? People don’t like to be accosted for favours, so warm them up to you first.

4. There’s nothing in it for them.

This sentiment is so strong that you should avoid thinking in terms of “favours” altogether. You aren’t soliciting favours from your target influencers; instead, you should be making a valuable exchange with them.

For example, rather than getting value from an influencer sharing your content, you could give that influencer value in return with, say, access to content the influencer’s followers would love. Sometimes, a simple spin is all that’s necessary to make the deal look like it’s in the influencer’s favour; in any case, there needs to be something in it for them.

5. You mass-messaged.

If you copied and pasted any portion of your message to multiple influencers, you’re doing something wrong. Influencers are receptive, and can pick up on generic quirks in your message that you could use to spam hundreds of people.

They get hundreds, if not thousands, of spam messages a day and won’t put up with them. Instead, you need to craft a warm, personalised greeting. Speak directly to them as if you know them (and if you’ve researched them, you should); and be sure to write a brand new message every time you target a new influencer.

6. They’re just busy.

Don’t forget that for most influencers, posting on social media isn’t a full-time job. They’re busy running businesses, meeting with people and directing organisations. They (and their assistants) don’t have time to respond to every message they receive — especially when they receive so many.

Maybe a target influencer would love to co-author a new post with you, but doesn’t have room in his or her schedule to actually do it. You can get around this problem by reaching out to more people, and selecting ones who seem to have ample time to post on social media.

7. There’s just no obvious reason.

Social media marketing is a valuable strategy, but it’s not fool proof. People can be unpredictable, so even if you craft the perfect message, it’s possible that it isn’t going to resonate with them. Your message may also be vulnerable to random factors; for example, an influencer could have read your message with every intention of responding, but forgot and lost track of time. Any message could die for pretty much any reason.

If you know why your chosen influencers aren’t responding to your messages, you can come up with a plan to improve them. Remember, influencers are people, and each person you contact will have different preferences and personality traits. What works for one person may not work for another. Still, with best practices in place and some extra consideration in your strategy, you can improve your odds of success in gaining a response.

About the author

Michael O’Connor is a partner at Grey Sergeant and specialises in marketing communications and PR in the consumer and B2B sectors. Grey Sergeant provides strategic advice and planning and promotes businesses through integrated marketing, PR, media relations, social media, digital marketing and events. For more information please contact