Developing a social media strategy isn't exactly a task for the faint of heart. It takes research, time, and effort to craft an effective approach. And with the number of variables you face in the process, one successful campaign doesn't automatically translate to future success.
One of the biggest issues I run into is the difference between a social media strategy, and a social media outreach strategy, so I decided to clear up confusion. Outreach should be factored into your overall social strategy – as in, you need to be doing it – but it needs to have a separate strategy behind it – how you'll do it, when you'll do it, and what you'll be using.
So, let's take a closer look at building an outreach strategy you can fit into an existing social media strategy.
What is Social Media Outreach?
Simply put, you use social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Instagram to increase brand awareness, and build relationships.
The focus is on fostering genuine, mutually beneficially relationships with people who will either spread awareness of your brand (influencers), or have the potential to become a paying customer in the future. It's not a chance to spam users with your content. That's nothing more than a transactional relationship, which is the opposite of what you're going for.
Isn’t that What I’m Doing with My Social Strategy Anyway?
Not exactly. Your social media strategy likely does have some degree out outreach factored in, because you know the kind of content you're going to post on each of your social channels. You know which networks you want to focus on, and your end goals – bring in more followers, increase engagement.
But, at its core, a social strategy focuses on how you're going to use your content, and what forms of content you'll need to create to do it, without bringing in outside influencers to help you get the job done.
Unless you've factored influencers into your strategy already, what you've got documented is likely just a social media content strategy.
What the Content Strategy Looks Like
A social media content strategy includes:
Goals and Objectives: Before working on any kind of social media strategy, you must first begin with your goals and objectives. Only when you have these things clearly defined will you be able to develop a plan of action you need to get there.
Your social media goals need to be broad descriptions of general intentions that are in line with your company’s mission and values.
Common social media content strategy goals include:
- Enhancing the company brand
- Improve business intelligence
Your social media objectives, on the other hand, should be designed to support each of the goals in a specific manner. For best results, make sure the objectives follow the SMART approach.
- S: Specific: Say specifically what you want to do – find the specific area you want to improve.
- M: Measurable: Include some indicator of progress – in social, it's often the number of followers, or level of engagement. Indicate how you're going to measure it – or at least some options for measuring it.
- A: Attainable: Be reasonable about whether you can do it, and determine who will be responsible for it. (In some models, the A stands for "assignable.") For instance, the idea of getting a million followers in a day? Totally not attainable – no matter who you are or how much money you spend… unless you're Caitlyn Jenner, who reached 1 million followers in four hours and three minutes on June 1, 2015. She's the current world-record holder for fastest time to reach one million followers.
- R: Relevant: Is the objective truly relevant to your goal? (In some models, this stands for realistic – see above comments about attainability.)
- T: Time-Oriented: Get specific about when the result can be achieved.
Using the SMART approach will make it easier for you to develop the strategy, and find the tactics to support appropriately executing the strategy so you can meet your objectives and accomplish your goals.
Common social media content strategy SMART objectives for the first goal include:
- Build brand awareness by increasing exposure to new people (i.e. X number of new fans/followers)
- Increasing the number of positive brand mentions while also decreasing the number of negative brand mentions (i.e. Decrease negative mentions by X%, and increase positive mentions by X%.)
- Increase reach of thought leadership content – this objective could be achieved, at least in part, with the use of outreach. (i.e. produce X new pieces of high-quality content)
The only thing missing from these goals is the time element – how soon can you reasonably achieve this? With that in mind, add by X date/time to each objective. Some things will take longer than others, so try to make it reasonable – don't rush it at the expense of quality, but don't take it so slow you're not motivated to get it done.
Understanding of Your Audience: If you want your content to strike a chord with your audience, you must understand who they are. Beyond knowing basic information like their age, gender, and location, dig deeper into the places they are most likely to be found online, how your product or service solves a problem/fits into their lives, and what kind of buyer they are. Establish who the audience is and what they want. If you don't know the answers to these questions, you can't craft the quality social media content they need from you to get the results you want.
Knowledge of Social Keyword Research: Keyword research is helpful in guiding your content, but social keyword research offers a more specific look at what your audience is looking for. You can use the social platforms themselves for this kind of research – seeing what's tending and engaging followers – will help you see how to catch the eyes of your own audience, or build more followers organically. If you'd rather not go through the manual hassle of searching through each network for each of the topics/phrases you think are a good place to start, you can use something like Hootsuite, Cyfe, or Serpstat to help you.
The Social Platforms You Intend to Use: What platforms should you use, based on where your audience is and what your goals are? Facebook is an obvious one, since most businesses are there, but there are networks like Snapchat that don't really make sense for businesses that aren't targeting a Millennial audience.
Content Calendar: What will you post on social media, and when will you post it? Who's in charge of creating the content? What kinds of content will be posted? Things to think about:
- Holidays: Going beyond the obvious holidays like New Year's Day, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day… find and make use whacky and obscure holidays, monthly themes, and more. For instance, did you know that September 19th is Talk Like a Pirate Day? Tie these into your brand when they make sense.
- Business and Entertainment Events: Are there any events in your business is hosting or will be part of? That's worth telling people about!
Company Plans and Events: What's your company up to? What are the plans for the future? How far have you come in the past year? Since you were founded?
What an Outreach Strategy Looks Like
A social media outreach strategy includes:
Goals and Objectives: Your goals and objectives here may be in line with the ones in your content strategy, or they may be slightly different. Regardless, take time to think about them separately from your social media strategies and goals. Continue to follow the SMART approach as outlined above, so you can see how well you've been able to meet your objectives and accomplish your goals.
List of Influencers: The list of people you want to connect to and possibly work with may be short, or could be pages long, depending on a variety of factors. When choosing your influencers, consider their niche, the size of their audience, how often they interact on social, and what you have to offer that's mutually beneficial.
How can you find the influencers that will be most effective for you?
- BuzzSumo: Find out the kind of content that's been popular in your niche, on a competitor's website, or find the people who are producing the popular content. Kill two birds with one stone – find the content that's most likely to resonate with your audience, then find the people you need to get it amplified.
- Klout: When someone joins Klout and connects their social accounts, they get an analysis with a Klout score, that factors in the number of followers, activity, and engagement. If you get a Klout for Business account, you'll be able to research influencers, segment them, and create and manage lists, and engage with them through the Klout Perks program. Plus, you can use native ads to help amplify your message.
- Little Bird: This can help you break down influencer lists by topic. As you're building your own influencer list on Twitter, you can get data about which influencers are most likely to make an impact.
- Mention: A brand monitoring tool that lets you see what people are saying about your company (or your competition) in real-time, there's also an influencer score feature that lets you see who the key influencers in any industry are, so you can make sure to connect with people who will really advocate for your brand… or see which customers are already out there advocating for you.
Networking Plans: Before you can ask anyone, especially an influencer, to do something for you as part of an outreach campaign, it's best to have a relationship with them. You should always be focusing on building relationships, but we all have to start from somewhere. So, it makes sense to have a plan to reach the people you're most interested in targeting – and that's where your networking plan comes in. How, and where, can you find the people you want to build relationships with?
Social Media Groups: No matter your niche, chances are you can find an active group on Facebook or LinkedIn where people you want to connect with are already connected When you join the group, don't just start self-promoting. Introduce yourself and what you do per the group rules, and then actively engage with the users there. Ask and answer questions, share useful information… get to know the people there before you start asking for favors.
Live Events and Conferences: You name it, there's a conference for it. if you want to connect with parents and bloggers who are also social media rock stars, try attending a conference like Type-A Parent. If you want to connect with affiliate marketers to get them talking about your product, or just make more connections in the marketing world, try Affiliate Summit. If you have a decent budget to work with, try sponsoring an event, rather than just attending. Or, if you really want to dig in and generate buzz, host your own event – whether it's a one-day seminar, or a three-day long conference.
Platforms You Intend to Target: Similar to the list of platforms you intend to use, this is a list of the social networks you plan to focus on during outreach. Since you can't possibly be everywhere, and it's better to target a few with high quality than it is to half-ass all of them, choose the platforms that most align with your goals.
Content: You'll need to have the content for whatever it is you want your influencers to promote, done and ready to go. Whether you're promoting a white paper, eBook, or just trying to drive traffic to a landing page, if there's no content lined up, there's no point in a running an outreach campaign at all.
Making Outreach an Integral Part of Your Social Strategy
After reading through everything above, take a second to ask yourself, "Is my outreach strategy already there?" If you answered yes, then congrats – you already factored outreach into your plan. If you answered no, then you've got some more work to do. A social content strategy is important, but you can amplify the results of those campaigns by adding outreach.
How much of a role does outreach play in your social strategy? What other tips and tricks do you have to offer? Tell me below.