Why I Won’t Blindly Support Your Cause

Recently, I stared getting a slew of canned tweets from various people where I live (Charlotte, NC). All were verbatim and asking me the same thing:

“We’re trying to get the word out about a new movement in Charlotte – can you please RT my last status?”

The short answer is, no, I won’t retweet your last status.

Good Influencer Relations = Common Sense

There are some common sense principles a lot of people seem to overlook when it comes to reaching out to social media influencers. As someone with a lot of followers and a good reputation locally, I understand why others want to reach out to me and ask for my help in spreading the word about their promotions, products or whatever. And I’m happy to help in most cases.

But this time, the approach stinks for several reasons.

First, I’m being hit up blindly. Instead of taking the time to connect with me personally, these folks suddenly sent a barrage of direct tweet and DMs, all asking me the same thing. Which obviously made it feel quite impersonal. Because it is impersonal.

Without being contacted first (email or phone would have be better), I have no idea what this is about. What’s worse, I’m being asked to do the work to click on a link, read about this, and then share it with my followers.

Really? What if I don’t have time to stop what I’m doing to figure out what this is about? More importantly, what if I don’t care about the cause? What if it is simply something I care nothing about, or worse—what if it offends me?

The better approach is to make a personal connection first, to gauge whether the influencer has an interest in what you are “selling,” before you ask them point-blank to spread the word on your behalf.

In this particular case, the cause is religious in nature. While I’m religious myself, I don’t often tweet or Facebook about it, so I’m not inclined to do it in the first place. Ditto for politically charged subjects. However, I might have made an exception had someone connected with me and explained why this is important, and what they are trying to accomplish.

Too often, people push the “easy” button and blast their messages with @ messages to “important” people on Twitter and Google+, tag them on Facebook, etc. But those are generally terrible ways to get someone’s attention and are fact extremely annoying.

Be Considerate of Others’ Time & Interests

Be careful what you ask for, and use common sense. A couple years ago, in thinking of ways to help “amplify” a client’s message, I reached out to Chris Brogan to see if he would be kind enough to share some information with his massive fan base. However, I didn’t just tweet him, I sent him an email. Not surprisingly, Chris responded back quickly. The reply was short and sweet, and he said no. He graciously explained why—the subject was sports-related, and he is not really a sports guy—so it wouldn’t make sense. I appreciated his candor and moved on.

Chris provided a couple good lessons there:

Know your audience. I had read a bunch of his stuff up to that point, so I felt comfortable approaching him with a personalized message. However, I didn’t know he wasn’t into sports. Maybe I had missed that along the way. Or maybe the lack of sports-related tweets in his stream should’ve tipped me off to that. Conversely, let’s say you want to chat with Guy Kawasaki. If you don’t know he’s way into hockey, you will quickly show you haven’t been paying attention.

Be polite. Don’t DM or tweet people or post on their Facebook page out of the blue. At a minimum, ask nicely if you can get their email address and share some information that might be of interest to them.

Don’t keep trying to work some “angle” when people say no. Take the hint and move on. Nothing pisses off influencers more than someone who doesn’t listen carefully the first time. If you don’t get a response using the tactic above, there’s probably a good reason.

Do you have a great cause you think I should promote on your behalf? I’m happy to consider it. Just ask me nicely…through a personal connection. Nobody likes spam.

Brandon Uttley is a seasoned web marketing and public relations professional with three decades of experience.

Currently, he is CEO of Go For Launch, which provides marketing strategy and communications support to companies ranging from startups to established entities.

Prior to his current roles, Uttley cofounded and was CEO of Command Partners, a digital marketing agency. He also confounded and was president of carbonhouse, inc., a nationally recognized web design firm.

Uttley also served as director of public relations at Luquire George Andrews for five years, and an account manager at Epley Associates/Public Relations for three years. Brandon was the 2009 president of the Charlotte chapter of Public Relations Society of America, and he is an accredited member of PRSA National.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.