Note: This post was originally published in December 2013 and due to its popularity has been updated.
The traditional concept of marketing has always been to ‘build creative’ (your campaign and messaging) and then ‘buy eyeballs’ (media placements like television ads). Proactive outreach, defined as engaging one-on-one with a potential customer, hasn’t normally been included into the B2B marketing process as it is resource intensive and usually reserved for the sales team.
Now that social media has become a core part of the B2B buyer’s research process, it is now effective for marketing teams to engage with buyers proactively on social networks as part of their playbook. Below we discuss how social media outreach can provide a connection with your potential customers while reaching higher conversion rates than broadcast marketing techniques ever could.
Traditional social media marketing has focused on broadcasting, not outreach
Historically, marketing has been about pushing your messaging out to a broad group of people, getting impressions (think TV ads, billboards, and newspaper ads), and hoping that people come to you. That same notion has been brought to social media – build as many followers as possible and then schedule your messages out to them.
Most social media teams are used to putting together an editorial calendar, and publishing content. This is a necessary component of social media marketing but just because you are posting does not mean your target customers are reading it. Broadcast is similar to putting a billboard up and waiting for people to drive by. Many people may see it but only a small subset may be actual potential customers and thus the conversion rate is low.
Marketers who respond to people talking to them on social media may confuse this with outreach. In reality, while reactive is engagement it is only a response. Reactive marketing usually means customer support. By answering questions posed by your current consumer base, you’re not building a community of new customers.
Before social networks came along, marketers and salespeople had three go-to options for outreach:
- Cold calling high value prospects
- Door-to-door sales and networking
- Brand ambassadors starting conversations at events
However, with all these options, you’re wasting time with some amount of people who aren’t interested in what you offer. With the old options, you simply didn’t have information on what each prospect does and whether they are entering a buying cycle. All of these past outreach opportunities were resource-intensive and you had no way to personalize the message.
But once social networks came along and Twitter and LinkedIn became the places where B2B buyers spend their time, you suddenly have a lot more information about the people you want to reach before you ever send an email or pick up the phone. Now, you can connect with any individual and have many one-to-one conversations at once.
Here’s what social media outreach could look like:
- Following your potential customers on Twitter and LinkedIn: Once you follow someone on Twitter or send someone a LinkedIn request, these social networks will send them push notifications and inbox notifications so that you can get on their radar.
- Favoriting their Tweets or LinkedIn post: again, this is a way to get on someone’s radar and show that you’re paying attention to their needs.
- Direct Messaging them on Twitter or send them a LinkedIn email: Once someone has seen you on social media and reciprocated interest by following you back, this is the time to start a conversation. With marketing email effectiveness declining year over year, sending a prospect a direct message provides a new way to make your message heard.
- Looking at their social feed and then comment on one of their relevant Tweets or LinkedIn posts: When you comment on someone’s feed, the goal is to share knowledge and add value to the person and in the process, build credibility for your brand.
- Going to their blog and commenting: Reading their blog is a great way to gain more insights on a prospect’s needs, pain points.
This is a pretty long list of the possibilities that await you with social media outreach. You may see a trend here – you’re acting as an individual, not a company. These are all targeted, one-on-one interactions that are distinctive to social media. By targeting specific customers based on their interests and desires undoubtedly means a higher conversion rate than going around and knocking on doors.
How to scale social outreach
The good news is that you don’t have to do this kind of outreach manually anymore. Once you’ve defined who you want to talk to and what you want to say, you can leverage technology like Socedo to find your target audience and automate the outreach.
Socedo finds the contact information of your target prospects (i.e. corporate email address, job title, company name, and more). From there, you can either upload a list of contacts into your marketing automation system, send the list to your sales team to call on, or sync the data to your marketing automation system and nurture these leads through email.
Compare this to the time it takes to make a cold call or send a personal email, you’ll find that this strategy can scale pretty well.
Building a human relationship with your customer is extremely important, and now social media provides us with the ability to connect with buyers on a much more personal level and as a result, boost the productivity of our marketing and sales effort.
You can sign up for a 7 day free-trial of our software. In just minutes, you can start to see your target audience on Twitter.