Social media outreach is a crucial component of your brand’s marketing strategy. In a world in which 2.62 billion people have a profile on a social platform, it pays to reach out to your customers where they are most active.
But an effective social media outreach strategy is a delicate dance to perform. While other, less successful brands choose the spammy salsa as their dance of choice, those seeking true success should elect for a finessed foxtrot that delivers genuine results.
To become the Nureyev of your social outreach, strap on your dancing shoes and follow the tips below…
Social outreach success starts at home
99% of your social outreach will involve directing potential customers to your social profile (with the aim of leading them in turn to your website.) Your profile is your store window, a place where you display your wares to prospective customers or influencers.
Consequently, it’s worth spending a little time making it look and feel good. Aim for a distinct visual branding that is embodied in the imagery and colors you use throughout.
This should be complemented by consistent copy too, with a tone that matches your brand. Avoid spammy language and ensure your social activity is regular and fresh. When visitors land on your profile, they need to see that the content you share is relevant to both you and them, providing value while remaining consistent with your brand.
Focus on building sustained, authentic relationships
Social influencers receive dozens of requests a day from brands asking if they could share content “because they think they’ll really like it.” And more often than not, these brands have appeared out of the blue without so much as a “hello.”
Such an approach is the hallmark of an ineffectual social outreach strategy from an inexperienced brand. In the same way as asking for a favor from a friend you never speak to, will be met with refusal, so too will such an approach to influencers be received in the same way.
Consequently, it’s important that you build genuine relationships with influencers first before asking something of them.
Start by surgically building a list of influencers you want to target and their social media channels. Get to know the content they post and curate, who they follow, and ultimately, what their brand is all about.
Start to engage with their posts and their network. Perhaps comment on an Instagram post or engage with a Twitter thread. Once you’ve sown your seeds, reach out to them directly. But don’t go in with the hard sell – praise them or suggest a really awesome tool you’ve just found that you think they might like. Give them value.
Once you’ve built an authentic relationship with an influencer, they will be more likely to spot you among the news feeds and even share your content with their audience if you ask them nicely.
Set clear objectives for clear direction
It can be tempting to launch a social outreach campaign with the aim of building a brand, increasing followers, getting shares, finding guest blog opportunities, and so on. But while aiming for the stars certainly sounds poetic, more often than not you’ll simply fly too close to the sun and end up in the sea.
Instead, identify one clear objective and use it to guide and inform your campaign. A coherent goal will help you identify the prospects you should reach out to and how you execute it.
Let’s zoom in on how to build a brand with social outreach. Say you’re an ecommerce entrepreneur and you’ve just got your hands on a starter store that has a poor social media footprint. Eek! Your aim is to increase the number of Twitter followers and create a brand presence.
Begin by identifying likely customer segments and creating (and sharing) content that they want to see. Appealing to your niche by sharing content that you know your customers value is a solid start.
Then find social influencers to share and engage with your content to get your name out there. Don’t randomly scour Twitter for prospects. Use tools like Social Animal to generate a targeted list of influencers. Reach out to these influencers and begin to build an authentic relationship with them. Once this is established, you can ask them to share your content (or they may do so freely if you make a really good impression!).
Over time, track your follower count and your engagements, and most importantly, keep the relationship with influencers going, even if the influencer declines. After all, you’re building a brand, so there’s little value in burning bridges.
And don’t set your campaign goals too high either — be realistic. Social outreach can be arduous, and setting unachievable targets that are impossible to meet won’t just leave you feeling frustrated, but will lead to an unnecessary drain on your resources too.
Relieve frustration with social automation
Social media outreach campaigns require diligent, coordinated efforts running concurrently across a range of platforms. Staying on top of each thread can be a strain, particularly as a small business with a limited team.
But automation can relieve this. We are seeing more and more social automation tools pop up that are both effective and, crucially, affordable too. Reaching out to influencers and scheduling social posts and direct messages can all be easily automated to save you precious time during your campaigns.
For example, rather than manually messaging each influencer on your list, automate it entirely and send a heartfelt but uniform DM to multiple contacts at once. Many tools let you personalize each message with influencer names and so on, giving your automated outreach that human touch.
While automation tools such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social dominate the market somewhat, there are plenty of smaller brands that can provide solo enterprises with effective social automation capabilities. Most tools offer free trials, so shop around before committing.
Know your platforms (and their users) inside and out
No two social platforms are the same. What works for Facebook doesn’t work for Twitter, and vice versa. Just as an explorer learns the terrain they’re traversing before setting out, so should you learn the social platforms you’re working with.
One such factor in this is finding the optimum time to share online. Take Instagram, for example. As the photo-sharing app’s algorithm changes, so does the best time to share content. Later revealed that while 7pm to 9pm was the optimum time to share in 2017, that changed in 2018 to between 11am and 1pm.
But even then, the best time to post changes from platform to platform, industry to industry, and location to location. Do your research beforehand to identify when works for you and your influencers and structure your editorial calendar accordingly.
Similarly, while most platforms use hashtags, the way they are used varies between each social network. Twitter lends itself to current events and branded business hashtags, while Instagram offers a wider scope for your brand. Again, research beforehand and use wisely.
Armed with the tips above, your brand should be more than ready to strut your social stuff. Set yourself clear objectives for your outreach and understand your platforms — doing so will help you build genuine relationships that will keep on giving. Get footloose with an all-singing, all-dancing social media outreach and start seeing solid tens with your campaigns today.
Victoria Greene is an ecommerce marketing expert and freelance writer who loves to see businesses grow through embracing social media. You can read more of her work on her blog Victoria Ecommerce.