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How to use Instagram direct messages to reach top influencers and celebs, according to a CEO who has used DMs to land clients like TikTok star Addison Rae

  • Unlike LinkedIn or Twitter, on Instagram users can direct message anyone – no matter how famous they are.
  • Business Insider spoke to Chris Vaccarino, the founder and CEO of the influencer-focused e-commerce company Fanjoy, on his tips for reaching influencers via Instagram DM.
  • Messaging on Instagram is a main way the company has signed some of its clients — like TikTok stars Addison Rae Easterling (nearly 40 million followers) and Alex Warren (10 million followers), along with Netflix's "The Circle" star Joey Sasso (728,000 Instagram followers). 
  • Vaccarino said to get someone's attention on Instagram, long paragraphs won't do, and he shared his tips and why the company relies on this method more than emails or cold-calling. 
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Addison Rae Easterling, who is one of the top TikTok influencers in the world with nearly 40 million followers on the app, expanded her business this month by launching a merchandise store with the e-commerce company Fanjoy.
And it all started because of an Instagram direct message.
Easterling's initial contact with the company was from a DM, according to Chris Vaccarino, Fanjoy's founder and CEO.
Direct messaging social media stars on Instagram is a main way the company has signed some of its talent — from TikTok star Alex Warren (member of the Hype House with 10 million followers) to Netflix's "The Circle" star Joey Sasso (728,000 Instagram followers).
"I don't know who cold-calls anymore, but nobody answers their phone," Vaccarino said. "And once we started working with these digitally focused teens and young adults we realized they don't really check emails."
Unlike LinkedIn or Twitter, on Instagram users can direct message anyone – no matter how famous they are.
Using Instagram's direct message feature, which recently became available on desktop, Fanjoy reaches out to trending creators popular across platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram with a short message – a method that's quickly become an effective way to reach new clients over the past two years, Vaccarino said.

Techniques for messaging influential people

Fanjoy handles merchandise sales for top digital creators like Jake Paul, David Dobrik, and Tana Mongeau, across categories from T-shirts and scrunchies, to calendars and phone cases.
The brand's Instagram page has a large following with over 400,000 followers and it showcases photos of all its clients and top products.
"It's a much more powerful tool and source of reference," Vaccarino said about Instagram. "Similar to email, DMs are just a quick message and we are able to reach out to as many of these potential clients as possible with very short, concise text."
It takes more than a simple "hi" to get someone's attention on Instagram, but long paragraphs also won't do, Vaccarino said. Try writing a quick intro that showcases the value your company can bring the influencer, he advised other companies. Then include an "ask," like setting up a brief phone call or time to meet and discuss further.
"Super simple, to be consumed within 5 to 10 seconds," Vaccarino said. "It can't be paragraphs."
Other influencer-focused companies, like the personalized video shoutout app Cameo, also use this method to connect with creators.
In July, Business Insider spoke to Steven Galanis, the CEO and cofounder of Cameo, who shared his tips for reaching influential people via Instagram DM.
Galanis said the key to a response is largely in the way you formulate your message. Adding in specific details as you introduce yourself will validate your ask. If you both know the same person, like the same restaurant, or will be attending the same convention, add that in, he advised.
Instagram users also have the option to unsend a message if the other person hasn't opened it yet.
If you haven't heard back, Galanis recommended copying your exact message, deleting it, and hitting resend – bumping your message back to the top of someone's DMs.

Read the inside story on Fanjoy for more on how the company pivoted its business model to selling merchandise for internet stars: 

Inside the rise of Fanjoy, from selling music T-shirts to dominating influencer merchandise with YouTube star clients like David Dobrik and Jake Paul

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SEE ALSO: How to use Instagram to reach celebrities and other influential people, according to the CEO of a $300 million startup who swears by it and says 'cold calling is dead'
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