Every digital marketer does it. Some do it well. Others …not so much. But it’s a critical part of social media, online networking, and public relations. Let’s talk about starting conversations.
There’s an art to writing that first message. And there’s science behind that art. Dating websites have tons of data on what works in first messages. Let’s see what marketers can learn from the hopeful boys and girls on dating websites.
Ready? Ok, Romeo. Let’s go.
In a study by OkCupid, they show that the member would get a higher response rate for first messages that mention the specific interests of the person they’re talking to.
This may be personal interests (such as zombies and metal bands) but in marketing, it’s more likely to be a reference to something professional, such as:
Mentioning an interest is your chance to show that you have something in common, and to do it in a positive way.
How’d you find that interest? You read their profiles, you’ve read their content, you’ve researched their company. You’re listening and paying attention.
Everyone likes to be noticed.
If you’re starting a conversation with a high-value potential contact, like a prospect, job candidate, journalist, or influencer, dig deep into the research. Indicating that you’re deeply engaged makes a huge difference.
I read your book, and I agree that…
I’m subscribed to your podcast and I noticed that…
I’ve been reading your blog for the last few months and…
For guys on dating websites, this is life and death. The ladies can smell arrogance a mile away. Self-effacing language shows humility. But it also acknowledges the obvious: it’s awkward to contact someone out of the blue.
Tip: A first message should be direct and concise. But if there’s a place for softened language, it’s in the one sentence that admits you’re coming at them out of nowhere.
Another finding from the OkCupid study found that the most generic salutations get the worst results. “Hi” “Hey” and “Hello” were the most common openings, but also the least effective.
I’m not suggesting you start a message to a New York Times editor with “Yo!” The lesson here is this: don’t start by sounding like everyone else.
Any pickup artist will tell you that you’ve got to put yourself out there. Have the guts to reach out. No guts, no glory. But don’t rush it. It may be worth it to slowly put yourself on their radar in the days and weeks leading up to the first conversation.
Social media gives you all kinds of ways to do it. Here’s a sample of the 35 steps in the complete online networking guide…
Follow them on Twitter or Google+ (which don’t require their approval)
Share their content on Twitter or Google+ (and mention them)
Comment on something they wrote (show that you thought about it)
Share content on Facebook or LinkedIn (and mention them)
Write something that refers to them (and quote, link, or credit them)
Start a conversation (possibly mentioning what you wrote)
Once the conversation has begun, ask a follow up question. Open-ended questions work best. Avoid asking questions that can be answered with a single word.
Once a good connection is make, you’re ready to politely ask for something. I find that an offer to collaborate is a great way to start.
Go for it, player! Ask her out!
Our friends at Bluewire Media created an excellent blogger outreach template. Enjoy!