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The Barney Stinson’s Playbook for Cold Tweeting Influencers

Elise Yu

Mar 4, 2024

While cold emails get the glory, cold tweets are somewhat underestimated. It should be the other way around. Cold tweets are much easier to craft and they have a higher chance to get noticed and answered.


What is a Cold Tweet?

A cold tweet is like a cold email with benefits. Basically, it is tweeting someone for the first time when you haven’t yet met them.

It’s “cold” because the other side doesn’t expect a tweet from you. When done properly, they won’t expect it but will be well familiar with you, the sender.

Cold tweets are extremely powerful. They can generate B2B and B2C leads, start long-term relationships with influencers, and even land you your next job interview.

Take Blake Robbins for example. His cold tweets ended up with job opportunities at Lyft, Nest, and General Assembly! When cold tweeting is done right, it can be that foot in the door you need. It doesn’t mean you’ll surely reach your goal, but at least, you’re playing a better hand.

How to Cold Tweet and Actually Get a Response

It’s super easy to blow it with a cold tweet. The eagerness and anxiety to get a response shine from every character of your tweet.

It shouldn’t be that way.

I was thinking, who’s the master of cold outreach, with 100% success rate?

That’s right. Barney Stinson.

5 Types of Cold Tweets

So here they are, 5 cold-tweeting techniques from the hustling master of How I Met Your Mother. Give it a try, you’ll be surprised by the results:

1. The Wingman

  • What it is: An intro to a prospective influencer by someone friendly or authoritative.
  • How to do it wrong: Ask just anyone from the influencer’s tweeps for an intro.
  • How to do it right: Take a look at the inner circle of the influencer. Who does he speak the most with? Do you know any of them? Great, ask one of them to be your wingman and get a polite intro.

Pro-tip: You can use our iOS app exactly for that. The app analyzes connections and relationships between different users and finds the best matches to get you an intro from. Here’s how it looks in the world:

Guy Avigdor tweets

2. The Scuba Diver

  • What it is: Barney tricks all his friends into advocating for him in front of the chosen one (while wearing a scuba diver suit). You don’t need that last part for cold-tweeting.
    In cold tweets, The Scuba Diver technique is connecting with the influencer’s best friends. They will later advocate you to the influencer. By connecting with the influencer’s inner circle, you weave an invisible net in front of the influencers, making it inevitable for them to bump into it.
  • How to do it wrong: This one is the hardest to pull off. It requires time and attention. To make it work, you need to study the inner circle of the influencer and make sure they’ll mention you. The thing is, you should verify they all mention you in a positive way. So play it cool, slow, and easy. Get to know those influencer’s friends and keep good relationships with them.
  • How to do it right: The Scuba Diver is a method of reaching influencers that you presume will be the hardest to get a response from. Just like with the Wingman, communicate with the people the influence talk with the most. Your name will pop up in their conversations. Be assured that hearing about you from several close friends will arouse their curiosity.

Pro-Tip: Creating this volume of connections takes a lot of time. You can take a shortcut by advertising to the people the influencer engages with regularly. If you’re not sure how we can help you accomplish that.

3. The Desperate Ted Mosby

Image from How I Met Your Mother
  • What it is: Get immediate sympathy, like when telling someone that you were left at the altar.
  • How to do it wrong: Desperately ask for help. It usually looks like this:
    @saviour Hi! I need your help! Can you share this link with your audience? Would mean much to me! Check it out:
    Don’t throw yourself at the influencer. This way the first time they hear from you is in your desperate mode. Not your best side.
  • How to do it right: WIIFT. Instead of thinking about What’s In It For Me, focus on What’s In It For Them.
    Finding what’s in it for them is easy when you listen. Pay attention to the influencer you’re reaching out to. What’s their “being left at the altar” story? Do they need something you can help with? Start with that.

4. The Fireman

  • What is it: Barney just says he is a fireman and it works like a charm.
  • How to do it wrong: Put too much weight on your role and company, while it’s a brand new company or a non-impressive job title. You’ve probably seen it on Twitter with this format:
  • @MyInfluencer Hi! I’m Paul, VP Cold Tweets at 2PeopleAtOneMonthOldStartUp! Can we talk?
  • How to do it right: Only use it when it’s most definitely means something to the influencer. When choosing to make it the main focus of the tweet, make sure they’re familiar with your brand.
  • @MyInfluencer Hi! I’m Betsy, marketer at Nike. Would be happy to have a word with you!

5. The Joey Tribbiani

What is it: Hey, that’s from a different story! I know, I know. But Friends’ Joey is so much like Barney!

The Joey Tribbiani may seem simple but actually requires a preliminary work.

Remember Joey’s “How you doin?” catchphrase? So there’s an equivalent cold tweet. Meet:

@MyInfluencer Hi, got a sec?

We learned this basic yet smart line from Hillel Fuld, CMO at Zula. All you have to do is tweet the influencer the simple line of “hey, got a sec?”. And it works.

How to do it wrong: Don’t be a one-trick pony. Some influencers will dig into your tweets. They won’t find it charming to see that you’ve sent the same tweet to 10 other influencers.

How to do it right: Joey’s How-You-Doin worked not because he chose his words carefully. It worked because he was a good looking guy, brave enough to make a move.

Being a Joey on Twitter means being transparent about who you are: add a decent profile picture, a descriptive bio and a link to the company you work for.

When you cold-tweet an enigmatic question like “got a sec?”, people will try to figure out who you are. When you don’t disclose enough info about yourself, it feels creepy. When your profile fully disclose who you are, it’s more likely you’ll get a response.

This casual tweet works best after being around the influencer for a while. First, make sure to give them a little ego boost by following them, liking and retweeting some of their tweets. If they follow back, you can send a direct message (but never an auto-DM!). If they don’t follow back, you can go ahead and send the cold tweet.

A Final Word from Ted

Barnie was a hustler. A good heart buff, but a manipulative hustler. With influencers, you should aim for the real deal: a long-term relationship.

Don’t objectify influencers and use them for your short-term needs. As Tara Hunt explained in her epic YouTube video, a fair-weather friend is a friend who contacts you only when in need.

When you treat influencers as fair-weather friends, you’re risking to be ignored the next time you approach them.

So don’t be a Barney, be a Ted instead. If you need some tips on how to build relationships with influencers, we’ve got you covered with the Guide to Influencer Marketing. You can also check Beacon’s blogger outreach.

Got any success stories of cold tweets that went well for you? We’d love to hear them!

Looking for Influencers to Master your Cold Tweeting Techniques?

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