Image by Tom via flickr

How to Ask for Things on Social Media (Without Making an Ask out of Yourself)

Asking for something is one of the hardest things to do on social media. There’s a subtle line between asking for a favor and making an ask out of yourself.

However it doesn’t need to be complicated. Thanks to social media, it has never been easier to connect with a stranger—for a lead, advice, help opening a Capri Sun—without it being strange. And it’s not only easier for you, but easier for everyone else as well.

A common technique is to send a Tweet asking for retweets, or create a status asking for likes. But unless you’re Nash Grier or 5 Seconds of Summer (Google them), you shouldn’t ask for retweets. Those only work when a user has large social currency they can offer in return. For example, teenagers will be promiscuous with their retweets and follows if there is a chance a popular artist or personality will follow them.

There’s a lot of noise out there but even if you don’t have 4 million followers, a hit single or a cat that never smiles, you can still be heard. Here are six simple steps to leveraging your following on social media. At the end of this article, I’ll both put them in to practice.

Don’t start by making an ask

Your first contact with anyone on social media should be positive and personalized. Yes, it takes more time to send a hand-crafted tweet or message to a new contact but it’s worth it.

If someone you don’t know contacts you and begins the message by asking for something, how likely are you to listen?

If you want someone to read your blog, read their blog first or at least show that you have taken some kind of interest in them. Doing 30 seconds of research on someone to personalize a message is worth it and will instantly create value in a relationship.

It may not work 100% of the time, but it will work way more often.

Keep it simple

We live in an 140 character world but that doesn’t mean you need to use all of those characters. Make sure your ask is simple to both understand and execute. If it requires more than two steps to execute, you will not get a great response. People are willing to spend a minute helping you, not 10.

Start with your network

If you’re on social media, you have a following. You’ll also eventually have to ask that following for something. It’s not the size of that following that matters but what you do with it.

Begin with your most engaged followers. These are the people that interact with you the most, are your best advocates, support everything you do. Mine is still my mom. I love you, Annie Barrett.

Contact them privately. Tell them what you need and offer to help them whenever you can. Always be thinking about how you can offer value in your relationships. A great network is built on an even distribution of give and take.

Coordinate when you will post a message to social media and have your most engaged followers advocate for you at the same time. If there are multiple voices supporting your cause at the same time, it will show traction. A small network can look much larger if the message is well-timed.

Use humor

One of the easiest ways to make an ask seem less aggressive is humor. People engage more with a good joke, a topical reference or something self-deprecating. There is nothing wrong with making yourself seem more human and more approachable when your asking your network for something.

Be specific

Be polite but not too polite. What you are asking for must be clear. Don’t let a joke or something clever distract from what you need your network to do. If you need someone to click on a link make sure they know that. Direct them to where they need to go first and then figure out how to make it engaging.


This is the most important part. Thank people. Acknowledge them publicly. Make sure you are always appreciative when your network helps you. It will make it even easier the next time.

That’s all there is to it. If you are sincere and take the time to engage with people, they will do the same in return. Don’t ignore your network when you don’t need things.

Put it in to practice.

Ask me anything on Twitter right now (@Barrettall) and I’ll answer.

And if you have 20 seconds, vote for me in the Shorty Awards. I’m in the top five. So you’re saying there’s a chance? Yes. All it takes is a quick tweet to make my mom proud.