4 tips for building a social media outreach strategy

One of the most effective strategies to be used in both lead generation marketing and demand generation is finding a way to extend the reach of  your content through social media. Having a wide reach is critical to a successful inbound marketing campaign as it gets more eyes on your content and, if done right, more clickthroughs down the funnel to your branded content.

But it’s not just a matter of posting content on your social channels and expecting the shares to magically happen on their own. That’s a “field of dreams” strategy of, “if you build it they will come”, and in marketing, it doesn’t work. You need to put things in motion.

But how?

Often, this is done through an outreach strategy, a strategy whereby you leverage your relationships with key influencers, publishers and others with the purpose of having them share your content with their network, on their channels.

As with most things, your outreach efforts shouldn’t be done haphazardly or left to chance. Here are a couple quick tips for building an outreach strategy to amplify your content’s reach on social media.

“You’ve got to deliver value through your content – enough to make sharing it irresistible.”

Start with a clear goal and a great idea
Lisa Barone, VP of strategy at Overit, told BuzzSumo that the goal of an outreach campaign is to raise awareness of something that has value for a specific audience. The could mean building links to a specific piece of content, a business’s website as a whole or just overall brand awareness. Then, you’ve got to deliver value through your content – enough to make sharing it irresistible.

Once you have a goal, you need an idea for your content. Will it be an infographic, video, whitepaper or another type of content? Will it be something bigger like a cause or an event? Know what you want to do and figure out what will make a publisher, influencer or an individual fan want to see it and share it with their own audiences.

Build genuine relationships before you need them
If you’re planning on creating high-value content, you’ll want to know that it can hit the ground running once it makes its way on to social media. But if you wait until the last minute to ask others to share your content, you’re likely to get rebuffed.

BuzzSumo wrote that Sharon Flaherty, founder of BrandContent, believes it’s all about building real, mutually beneficial relationships with brands and people. Yes, link building and SEO are important, but what’s more so is having content that people want to experience and share on their own terms.

Find a way in which you can be an asset to the publishers or influencers in your vertical and add value to what they’re already doing. Once you’ve built a relationship, then you can start reaching out and asking them to promote and share your content on their channels. In fact, if you focus on the relationship, and the quality of your content is good, in many instances you won’t even need to ask. It will happen naturally.

And remember that while Facebook is still the king of the social sharing world, you shouldn’t neglect the second or third most popular channels in your vertical. In fact, if you’re a B2B, and not wanting to “pay to play” you may want to start with social platforms other than Facebook. For example, Buffer found that in the business space, LinkedIn earned 21 percent of the shares among high-engagement publications. That’s not a negligible amount of interaction!

Find the platforms your potential partners and audiences use
According to Buffer’s blog, its imperative you know what platforms get the most traction for publishers and other content creators in your space. What types of content get a lot of shares? Who are the thought leaders and influencers things revolve around? Find out what brands or personalities in your vertical get their content shared the most and focus on them as someone you can build a relationship with. Further, you’ll find that each channel is better suited to certain types of content. You can help your outreach strategy a lot just by making sure your content is in a format conducive to sharing.

“See what keywords and hashtags you can use to promote and amplify your content.”

Understand the sharing habits of your space
Sharing habits differ for each vertical. Some see a flurry of activity during the morning and are flat at the end of the day. Others see their sharing peak on different days. Find out when your space is most active and, if you’ve built¬†relationships with others who will share your content, don’t be afraid to ask (just don’t make it a habit) if they can post it during that time to maximize its reach. Don’t do this for every piece of content, but if you have a “big rock” or great, (inspiring, life-changing) piece of content, it’s okay to ask.

In addition, look beyond particular influencers to see what keywords and hashtags you can use to promote and amplify your content. These are a great way to tie your campaign into existing trends and search habits of the audience you’re trying to reach.

By using the strong keywords and hashtags, you’ll not only boost your own shares, but those of the people and brands doing the sharing. This ties back into the relationship part of the strategy – how can you find a way in which everyone involved benefits from all the activity?

It’s equally just as much about the relationships as it is the content itself.

Martin Jones

Martin Jones is a Senior Marketing Manager with the corporate Cox Communications social media team where he assists in leading strategy, campaign ideation and marketing execution for Cox Business social media & content marketing. Today, over 1 million fans engage with Cox Communications content, campaigns and Customer Care on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube. LinkedIn and Google+.