The Intermediate Guide to Social Media Outreach
Social media outreach can mean many different things to different people, so it is difficult to give one simple universal definition. Commonly, it is used to mean building and maintaining relationships with new and existing customers, respectively.
Regarding the former, social media has revolutionized prospecting and lead generation by replacing the (at best) mediocre open rates of impersonal blanket emails with the endless opportunities to attract and impress potential clients. With respect to the latter, one can make the most of social media connections by creating engaging content for them, involving them in conversations and delivering some added value that will hopefully result in more prosperous cooperation. Social media outreach can also mean increasing your brand awareness using an effective strategy.
Can social media actually deliver?
Or is it just a buzzword? Perhaps so, if you limit yourself to bi-weekly posting and sending bulk messages out on LinkedIn, but then this would not really be taking care of your social media outreach at all. The process should be continuous, rather than a single activity, and it can work wonders for you if it is well maintained. What’s more, there is so much information available on the internet about each prospective client that you should properly research them and send personalized messages to maximise their effectiveness. Of course it is worth mentioning that many social media efforts can be completely free of charge, in monetary terms, with time and effort being the only expenses. Read on to learn how to benefit from social media outreach and start implementing it in your strategy, from as early as today even!
Building a successful social media outreach strategy
An easy mistake to make when starting out on social media is to send a lot of direct messages that lack personalization and hence end up being treated as spam rather than outreach. Observing no effects from this poor strategy, the next mistake would be either to stop completely or to keep going on a larger scale. To avoid shooting in the dark or giving up, it is instead recommended that you think about your tactics within an overall strategy first of all.
It is relatively easy to manage social media, but the devil is in the details. You need to do a lot of work before you hit “send” or “invite”, else your efforts may be in vain.
How do your social media profiles look?
The first decision you need to make is whether to set up your account as personal or as a business account. There are pros and cons for both choices, particularly when it comes to Facebook. A business profile there, which is called a Facebook Page, allows you to reach a target audience by building campaigns around the page. However, since they can’t be used to initiate conversations, it somewhat limits the possibilities of extremely personalised content.
An effective strategy that allows you to benefit from the pros of a Facebook page without suffering from the cons is to combine a business profile with personal activities. You can do this by posting valuable content on your Page and then sharing it from your, or another employee’s, personal profile. This will impact the reach of the post and also the credibility of those employees that share it, as well as the business as a whole.
When it comes to personal profiles, remember to update some details such as profile photos, especially on LinkedIn. This is important when making new connections and relationships, regardless of your business goals. Once again, ask yourself if it looks as professional as possible.
Whether extending your outreach using a personal or a business profile, it need to appear professional and trustworthy in order to inspire confidence and prove effective. Take a look at your profile and ask yourself if it reads like a person or brand that you would like to work with.
Do you already have some resources ready?
As has been already mentioned, details are crucial. It won’t make do to simply fill in your profile, create some low-quality content and then send invites out with a “spray and pray” approach. You must first check what resources you already have at your disposal Do you have a series of articles or e-books that are ready to be published? A well-motivated team to work with? Only then you can answer what you still need to prepare. If you have not been present on social media before then your posts need to look natural and not forced, since your reputation will be negatively affected if people can spot the difference.
What is your target group?
When it comes to choosing the direction for your social media outreach and the platforms to use, It is essential that you first identify who it is that you want to reach and what your ideal “buyer persona” is. Of course, this is unique to each business, so it is down to you to decide what sort of person you want to contact as a potential client.
It is important not to get over-excited about the possibilities of social media and make too many posts about anything or make too many connections with anyone. That’s not how outreach works and it should not be your strategy.
After identifying prospective customers you should make a list that includes a few important details, such as where they are active and what they publish. The catchphrase “the more you know, the better” certainly applies here. Detailed research will allow you to personalise messages to required extent so that they really hit the target. It wouldn’t exactly be the best move to poke someone on Facebook who recently Tweeted about social media etiquette now, would it?
Ideas for social media outreach
There are a plethora of different tactics that you can apply for your strategy and we will go into a few ideas below.
As already discussed, social media outreach is about taking time and care with the details, not just pressing “publish” before you are fully prepared. It can sometimes take a lot of effort to approach a certain prospect, but this can pay dividends in the long run. Look at the list of potential clients that you should have now drawn up and dig deep into their online presence. Follow them on platforms where they are active, like their posts and share or retweet – without being too over-the-top, of course. Take note of any discussions that they are engaged in. Join groups that they are members of and share some relevant content. This will all be useful information at a later date.
When you do finally make contact with your prospect, you will be able to use the things that you’ve learnt from the above to shorten the distance of the approach and thereby increase the chances of success. This is when social media outreach meets social selling, so before you make the connection, be sure to double check that you have made full use of all available touchpoints in order to deliver maximum value.
For some people on your list of prospects, it might be suitable to make an introduction on LinkedIn especially, or perhaps even with Facebook Messenger. Don’t forget that you may only get one chance to get this right with each potential client though, so make sure you are ready to do so and don’t overuse this option if you’re not ready.
It is important to take care of reviews, endorsements and recommendations of your profile on social media in order to appear as trustworthy as possible to your target audience, who you will be able to reach more easily if you build up social proof.
You also need to maintain your relationships. Don’t just rest on your laurels once you achieved some of your business goals, but instead engage your followers in order to take further actions. Warming up a lead can sometimes take weeks or even months, but it can be worthwhile to keep feeling them valuable and informative content that eventually perks their interest.
Keeping your audience engaged and interested in the social footprints of your business may require more than your personal power alone. This is another reason, on top of those mentioned earlier, why it is crucial to prepare a content strategy on social media that involves both business and personal profiles.
Do some research to find out which types of content are loved and shared by your target audience. Some tools are readily available from Hubspot (Blog Ideas Generator) and Buzzsumo, for example, which can be used to identify mentions. Remember about providing value when you create your content since no one wants to waste time reading about things they are already familiar with. Prepare a content calendar with two parts, one each for your personal and business profiles, then combine them by sharing business content via personal profiles and providing additional comments or changing the format.
Sometimes you may feel like you just want to do even more with your content. Why wouldn’t you make it gated, and increase your social media reach?
Finally, combine your prospect cycle and your content cycle, then keep going through them on a daily basis. Keep publishing and interacting, but do so in context and with a reason. Social media should be a key and integral part of your strategy, not an afterthought.
Measuring social media outreach
Just as there is no universal definition of social media outreach, there is no universal and definitive way to measure its successfulness either. Some people just to measure reach and engagement rates, whilst others track the impact of social media on conversion (a term which itself can be defined in different ways).
We are sorry to disappoint you, but there is no universal answer to this, either. Some specialists measure reach and engagement rates, others track how social media impact conversion (speaking of the meaning of conversion, it can be very varied as it is measured and identified individually).
Social media outreach can certainly seem like a terrifying prospect at first glance, but with time it will only become easier and reap greater rewards. Use our handy guide to focus on value and consistency, then you’ll be on the right track.