Accessing Influence with Twitter

A lovely Twitter interaction happened to one our beloved colleagues/clients last week that exemplifies one of the things that I find most interesting and powerful about using Twitter at this moment in time: the low barrier to entry in terms of connections with spheres of influence.

In this particular instance, one of the owners of Lunapads.com, Suzanne Siemens (@luna_gal), posted this tweet:

Screen capture of tweet by @luna_gal

For those who can't "speak" Twitter, what Suzanne did here was share with her Twitter followers that she:

  • Saw "No Woman No Cry" a new film by by Christy Turlington (here she used Christy's @CTurlington Twitter user name, which meant that her Tweet showed up for Christy when she checked Twitter). Christy is advocating for maternal health around the world and this film is one of her current public outreach efforts.
  • And that she thought other maternal health advocates should see it as well, especially Shanti Uganda, another NGO working on maternal health, and the rest of the team at Lunapads should take note (that's the "shout out" bit at the end).

The next day, Suzanne saw this when she checked Twitter:

Screen capture of tweet from Christy Turlington That's a response from Christy to Suzanne letting her know that she both knows of Lunapads as a brand and product, while also endorsing the brand. That's kind of flat out awesome on a basic brush with celebrity moment (especially if you were coming of age in the age of the Supermodel), but on a less frivolous note: Christy has, at current count, 24,739 followers. Whatever percentage of  those followers, who checked Twitter or her tweets on June 26, now know that Christy Turlington thinks Lunapads are something worth tweeting about.

The whole interaction probably took no more than 2 minutes on the part of each woman. A genuine moment of shared interest was shared via social media and a connection was made. And that's one of the powerful things about Twitter at this moment in time. While you can set up your account so that you control who can and can't follow you and how your privacy is managed, most people leave their Twitter accounts open -- whereas Facebook by comparison tends to be more a mirror of existing real life relationships. And so, like in this example, it's quite easy to share something with someone that you may never hope to meet in real life, simply by addressing them on Twitter (whether or not they notice or respond will vary of course).

I can't tell you how many stories like this one I've heard from people having the chance to connect -- even if only briefly -- with people of influence via Twitter. And while the story remains to be told as to how connected Christy and Lunapads will become, in many cases those casual initial social media connections have turned into powerful relationships or leverage points for organizations and businesses.

So what can you do to attract a similar connection for your organization:

  • Start by creating a Twitter account;
  • Then, start following the people and organizations that have influence in your world;
  • Once you've got your sea legs and feel more comfortable on Twitter, start connecting to those influencers when you think there's a good opportunity. What do those opportunities look like? Often people will actually go so far as to ask questions directly on Twitter: answer them. Or, like Suzanne did, if you run across their work in the world, let them know what you think of it. If you write a blog post or publish a report you think will interest them, be sure to announce it on Twitter and let them know by including their username, just as Suzanne did with the inclusion of @CTurlington.
  • Take note who is following you. You don't need to be obsessive about this, but Twitter may start to introduce you to new or emerging people of influence in your world that you didn't know about.

So your homework? Assuming you've already got a Twitter account, is to go find 4 new people of influence to start following on Twitter and start thinking about how you can strike up a conversation.