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Influencer Marketing: Direct Message as First Contact

In 2023, influencers are the ones who shape opinions and set trends, which is why influencer marketing is now a tool used by many agencies and brands to increase reach and engagement. However, reaching out to influencers can be a daunting task, so we're looking at how direct messaging (DM) can be used to reach influencers and perhaps spark a valuable partnership.

logos message appel et mail sur un téléphone
logos message appel et mail sur un téléphone

Key Takeaways

  • Direct messages provide a private space for personal conversations with influencers and can be an appropriate way to build a partnership based on trust.
  • Compared to traditional emails, influencers may be able to respond to DM more quickly because they are active and responsive on the platforms.
  • Sending visual content is also easier using Direct Messages, which  can illustrate the value of a collaboration.

Direct messages (DM) are one of the many ways to initiate a conversation with influencers and perhaps even build lasting relationships in the long run. Unlike public comments or mentions, a DM provides a private space where a personal conversation can take place. You can express your excitement about an influencer’s  profile, acknowledge accomplishments, or refer to specific content that particularly resonated with you.

There is of course the one big question we’re all familiar with: how do you stand out in the overflowing inbox of influencers? Brands have a certain advantage, especially if they have already established identifiable creatives. Still, it may seem a bit unprofessional to make contact in a direct message as some brands have an unserious demeanor. So here’s an example of how best not to do it:

What does it mean to DM instead of email on Instagram?

Contacting influencers via DMs offers several advantages over traditional email outreach. Since Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) spend a lot of time on social media, the chance of getting noticed by influencers through Instagram DMs can be higher. This can be especially advantageous over emails since DMs are usually displayed as individual notifications.

DMs provide a real-time and direct means of communication. Influencers tend to be active and responsive on social media platforms, so a first contact through direct messages is a quick and efficient way to reach them. Unlike emails, which can take longer to receive a response, DMs allow for faster message exchanges.

The inbox on Instagram is also a more casual and informal environment for communication. You can build an authentic and genuine connection with influencers, rather than communicating formally and stiffly via email.

When you DM an influencer, they can see right away if you have followers in common, for example. This “social proof” can make you more convincing, but also more credible and increase the likelihood of a positive response. The certification with the blue checkmark on the profile only adds to your legitimacy and increases the chances of a positive response.

At the same time, you can directly share images, videos, and links, which allows you to present your brand visually right away. Compared to text-based emails, it’s easier to share visual content and demonstrate the value of collaboration via DMs.

While reaching out via email can still be effective in certain cases, using DMs to reach out to influencers offers unique advantages in terms of visibility, direct communication, personalization, and authentic interaction.

How do you write to influencers for a collaboration?

Below are some important considerations to keep in mind when crafting your influencer DMs:  There are a few things to keep in mind because an influencer DM needs to be well thought out and strategically planned.

Influencers receive so many DMs from fans, brands, and critics every day that their inbox is often overflowing. As a result, well-known accounts do not check their DMs regularly. Accordingly, it’s important to know that new DMs usually go into the “Requests” folder, not the inbox. Influencers must accept your message before they can reply.

  1. What do you want to say? Instagram DMs should be concise, engaging, and targeted. Make sure your message is exciting so that influencers actually do both steps – opening the message and writing a response. Keep the request straightforward and avoid vague statements.
  2. What are you going to do? Clearly articulate how your brand aligns with the influencer’s content or values. Highlight the benefits of a collaboration or the unique aspects of your brand that would resonate with the target audience. When you connect based on shared interests and values, you increase the likelihood of a positive response. You’re also directly showing interest and an understanding of the influencer’s content.
  3. What value do you add? Immediately offer what added value a collaboration can have. This  can  be a free product sample, exclusive access to a sale or product, or a unique opportunity related to your brand. By giving up front instead of wanting to take right away, you demonstrate your sincerity and leave a positive impression.
  4. Who are you writing to? Instagram DMs definitely need to be personalized: Names and other details need to be researched ahead of time.

It’s important to follow up after the first DM, especially if you haven’t received a response. It’s best to wait ten to 14 days and then send a polite follow-up message to promote your request to the top of the message list again. Use elements from the first message and provide additional information to get a response.

Remember, there are other strategies besides the content of your message to improve your chances of success. Try different templates, repeat your approach, and continually refine your strategy to get the best results.

Sample collaboration request: here's how you conceptualize direct messaging on Instagram

A respectful and professional tone is essential when contacting influencers. Avoid overly promotional language (influencers know the drill and can spot overly salesy messages right away) and don’t make demands. Instead, focus on building a relationship and establishing a mutually beneficial partnership. A polite and respectful tone increases the likelihood of a positive response.

Step 1: What are the goals of the influencer marketing strategy?

Before you set out to write a DM to reach an influencer, you should be clear about your goals. This is always the first step for any influencer marketing campaign and should not be forgotten or neglected here either. What are the goals of your influencer marketing strategy? Do you want to increase brand awareness, drive more traffic to your website, promote a new product, or build a long-term partnership? Once you’re clear on your goals, you can craft a message and tailor it to the influencer’s specific interests and target audience.

Defining your goals will also help you select the most appropriate Influencers that match your goals and target audience. Keep the following points in mind when defining your goals:

  • Target Audience: identify the specific demographic or niche that fits your brand. Knowing the target audience will help you select influencers who have a strong presence in that audience.
  • Brand Alignment: Determine the type of influencers that align with your brand’s values, message, and aesthetic. Look for influencers whose content complements your brand’s image and who have a genuine interest in your industry or niche.
  • Engagement goals: Clarify the specific outcomes you hope to achieve from the collaboration. Whether it’s increased engagement, higher conversion rates, or a boost in social media followers, clear goals help guide messaging and track the success of efforts.

When you know your goals, you can approach influencers with a clear vision and thus increase the chances of finding the right partners. You can also effectively communicate your intentions directly and build a mutually beneficial collaboration from the start.

Kolsquare-Insight: Remember that reaching out to influencers is not only about your brand’s needs, but also about adding value to the influencers  and their audiences. By aligning your goals with the influencer’s interests and making a compelling offer, you can build a successful partnership that benefits both parties.

Step 2: Research and select influencers.

Once you have defined your goals, the next important step is to conduct thorough research and find the right influencers

This step requires careful consideration to ensure you are targeting influencers who fit your brand, have an engaged audience, and can help you achieve the results you want. Need help identifying the right influencers ? Kolsquare can help!

We offer a complete data-driven solution that helps brands optimize every step of their influencer marketing campaign thanks to the latest technologies like Big Data and Machine Learning. You can identify the right profiles for a campaign from our catalog of over three million influencers and then also measure and analyze the performance of each campaign. With our team of thirty experts, you can develop effective campaigns and expand your knowledge of the influencer sector through research and insider knowledge.

Here’s a quick guide for effective influencer research and selection:

  • Identify relevant niches: Determine the specific niches or industries that are closely related to your brand. Look for influencers who specialize in your niches and have built a strong following in their fields.
  • Analyze audience demographics: take a close look at the demographics of the influencers’ target audience. Consider factors such as age, location, interests, and values. Make sure the audience matches your target market to maximize the impact of the collaboration.
  • Evaluate engagement metrics: Evaluate the influencers’ engagement metrics, e.g. likes, comments, and shares for posts. High engagement indicates an active and engaged audience.
  • Content quality and brand alignment: Evaluate the quality of influencer content and how well it aligns with your brand’s values and aesthetics. Among other things, check to see if influencers have worked with similar brands before and make sure the style and tone of voice are consistent with your brand’s identity and messaging.
  • Authenticity and Influence: look for influencers who demonstrate authenticity and have a genuine connection with their audience. Assess their ability to influence and inspire followers. Influencers who have established themselves as trusted voices in their respective niches are more likely to achieve better results for your brand.
  • Reach and accessibility: consider the size of the influencer’s following and the platforms on which they are active. Assess whether they have a wide reach (does that match your goals?). Also, make sure they are reachable via direct messaging and open to collaboration in the first place (if they just posted content  promoting a similar or competitor’s product, collaboration may be out of the question at this time).

Through extensive research and strategic influencer selection, you can find partners who are a good fit for your brand and have the potential to deliver brand messaging to a relevant and engaged audience. This step lays the foundation for effective outreach and increases the likelihood of a positive response from influencers.

Step 3: Short, direct and to the point

We can’t stress this enough: Once you’ve identified influencers you want to target for a partnership, the next step is to write a personalized direct message (DM). It should definitely attract attention and generate a positive response. A well-worded direct message shows your genuine, sincere interest in working together and increases the likelihood that a meaningful connection will be made. Here are some tips on how you can effectively personalize the DM:

  • A warm introduction: start by addressing the influencer by name and expressing your admiration for their work. Mention a detail or a recent accomplishment that impresses you. A warm and personal introduction shows that you’ve taken the time to understand and appreciate the Influencer’s unique qualities and them as a person and creative.
  • Keep a long story short: because Influencers receive many messages from brands and followers on a daily basis; it’s difficult for them to scan long rambling messages that consist of a single block of text. They skim their DMs and if your core message can’t be understood at a glance and within ten seconds, you’ve unfortunately lost. The rule is: brevity is the spice! State your goal and reason for contacting them in a clear and concise message. Avoid long paragraphs that may overwhelm influencers or prevent them from reading your message.
  • Emphasize mutual benefit: You’re hoping to gain an advantage by collaborating, but you also have a lot to offer influencers – show that right away and briefly explain what the mutual benefits of collaboration are. Whether it’s the opportunity to reach a new audience or the chance to provide unique content to their followers, what are the benefits of collaborating with your brand?
  • Showcase your brand and its relevance: Reference specific details from your brand’s content or recent posts to show that you know exactly how a collaboration would play out and that your values and aesthetic are a true match.
  • The Right Tone of Voice: Your DM should be in a friendly and engaging tone, but at the same time, not sound too friendly or highfalutin. Avoid overly formal language that could come across as elitist or impersonal. Write in an entertaining style that matches the influencer’s tone and voice. Appealing wording helps to create a pleasant atmosphere and thus an initial base.
  • Finally comes the call-to-action (CTA): End your DM with a clear CTA. Invite influencers to discuss further collaboration, provide additional information, or ask about their preferred method of communication. A clear call to action shows that you want to move the conversation forward and makes it easier to respond, as influencer* know exactly what the next steps may be.

Remember that personalizing your DM shows resect and genuine interest in the Influencer*s and their work. By being brief and to the point about what you want, you increase the chances of getting their attention and a positive response. What message would you respond to if you were the influencer? What would convince you?

Step 4: An authentic DM on Instagram

Authenticity is the be-all and end-all when contacting influencers  After all, that’s what everything in this marketing sector is about. If you don’t communicate authentically, how can you expect your partners to risk their credibility by promoting your brand? Authenticity and transparency are therefore a solid foundation for a successful partnership.

You can be transparent by listing your intentions, goals, and expectations. Clearly communicate why you are interested in working with those influencers and how you envision both parties benefiting from the partnership. It’s best to tell a short story that highlights your brand’s values and mission and captivates potential collaborators. Open communication helps influencers already understand your brand on a deeper level and build a connection based on shared values.

What is your brand identity?  Only if you stay true to yourself (and your brand) can a two-way partnership grow. Also, show your empathy, understanding, and respect for the work of influencers and also for the ravages of time and trends in the industry.

Step 5: Call to Action = Response

A clear and convincing CTA is crucial to encourage influencers to respond to your direct message. The best way to do this is as follows:

  • Be clear and direct: clearly state what you want the influencer to do next. So you can either ask for a call (and include direct contacts and their contact details; you can also use Calendly to send a link to your calendar so you can schedule an appointment), immediately note some key collaboration details, or simply ask for the preferred method of communication. By knowing exactly what you want and need (it always depends on your internal communication channels, of course), you make it easy for influencers to understand your expectations and take the next step.
  • Be flexible: offer options for communication and collaboration that match the influencer’s preferences and your own way of working. In all proposals, give them the freedom to choose how they communicate or suggest alternative ideas for collaboration (maybe they’ll use a program that can help you, too?). This flexibility shows that you value the influencers’ input and are willing to listen to their preferences.
  • Be enthusiastic: Show your excitement and enthusiasm for the potential collaboration. Let the influencer know that you are open to ideas and that you appreciate and understand their individual style. Being genuinely enthusiastic (maybe even excited) can increase interest in a collaboration.

About Kolsquare

Kolsquare is Europe’s leading Influencer Marketing platform, a data-driven solution that allows brands to scale their KOL Marketing strategies and implement authentic partnerships with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders). Kolsquare’s technology enables marketing professionals to easily identify the best Content Creators profiles by filtering their content and audience, and to build and manage their campaigns from A to Z, including measuring results and benchmarking performance against competitors. Kolsquare has built the largest community of influencer marketing experts in the world, and offers hundreds of customers (Coca-Cola, Netflix, Sony Music, Publicis, Sézane, Sephora, El Corte Inglés, Lacoste, …) the latest Big Data, AI and Machine Learning technologies to drive inspiring partnerships, tapping into an exhaustive network covering 100% of  KOLs with more than 5,000 followers in 180 countries on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. As a Benefit Company, Kolsquare has been pioneering Responsible Influence by championing transparency, ethical practices, and meaningful collaborations to inspire change.

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