Losing your posting mojo on social media happens; add a pandemic into the mix and I’d be surprised if you told me you hadn’t encountered Comojovirus (thank you Vicky Taylor for that one) at least once in the last year. Taking a posting break is fine, yes read that again, IT IS FINE but if you want to be sure that you don’t fall off the social media radar keep proactively engaging (also called ‘outreach’) with other accounts.
It’s a like, a quick Insta story reaction, a reply, comment, direct message; it’s anything where you initiate an interaction. The more you use actual words the more likely you are to spark an interaction that’s reciprocated because as I say, ‘likes are lovely but comments count’. Depending who you’re initiating this interaction with it could be to strengthen an existing rapport or simply trying to create a, ‘hello I exist’ moment!
The aim is to build a unique relationship with people that will impact your business in a positive way either via sales or opportunities and you should incorporate ‘outreach’ into your social media strategy ideally on a daily basis.
Why is it important?
The pandemic has changed our habits, people are spending more time online consuming as users and promoting as businesses. Consumers are seeking distraction, entertainment and connection and although we’re entering a new normal we’re still apart physically from others more than ever before. Proactive two way engagement can help people feel that connection that has been taken away and that they ‘belong’ in your virtual world.
As a business, comments and private messages (the 2 most powerful proactive interactions you can undertake) present a company and brand as human. While you might not be touting a sales call you’re building the blocks towards connection that hopefully will either directly or indirectly have an impact on your business.
If you’re feeling creatively limited, either because of a lack of inspiration or motivation, outreach is a way to stay front of peoples’ minds in a meaningful way.
Get it right and you’ll stand out from the crowd (which is larger than it’s ever been) because many businesses don’t understand the power and importance this activity has. Sprout Social research taken just before the pandemic found that 61% of consumers think a brand’s engagement with their audience makes their social ‘best in class’.
Comments on a post, replies to a tweet etc. are visible so you’re giving yourself an extra opportunity to be discovered by others too.
All these interactions will help send the right signals to the algorithm that people are interested in you even while you aren’t posting any content.
The great thing about outreach is that it’s not difficult, having conversations is something we do every single day BUT the way you do it can make or break your social media presence. I’m a firm believer that many small businesses can nurture relationships in a positive and powerful way that most larger businesses are unable to replicate.
"….if we think about customer experience, that’s what sets the superior brands apart. Everyone knows when they’re dealing with a customer-centric brand. It shows. You can feel it. Sure, you can go really deep and crazy with customer experience, but you can also focus on conversations. Conversations are the ignored, low-hanging fruit of almost every business."
How does it work?
Look beyond your echo chamber or digital ‘bubble’ (sorry had to get a Covid19 term in there somewhere!) and seek out new people to connect with. Potential customers are likely to be a prime focus but don’t neglect searching for other connections that may provide you with business opportunities as well as accounts that you may simply be attracted to.
Facebook makes outreach hard because it is such a private platform so your Facebook page needs to be attractive, complete and one that encourages and makes contacting you easy. Create content that gets shared to help you reach new audiences organically. Connecting with ‘new’ audiences is achievable in groups as long as you either find or create a non-spammy one where conversations actually happen.
Twitter is THE most conversation-driven social media platform and this, coupled with its phenomenal searching capability, makes finding new and relevant people to chat with super easy. Just make sure you use and/or follow lists so it doesn’t become too overwhelming.
Instagram may have a more simple search function than Twitter (hashtags and geotags) but you can get a little ‘smart’ and use other accounts to find new connections by checking comments on posts, hashtags the account is following; posts they may be tagged in and their branded hashtags. When you find a new account you can choose to view and connect via their posts, Stories, Story Highlights and IGTVs with the bonus that any reaction to Stories is completely private.
When your content block lifts proactively engaging with accounts will be a balance between searching for them and checking out any you don’t recognise who interact with your content which more often than not is a strong signal that they’re interested in you in some way.
How to get started?
Look for something in their content that brings you together and allows you to connect meaningfully and from the heart. Don’t force the connection, if it doesn’t feel natural it’s probably better to move on. It sounds counter intuitive but forget about ‘doing business’, treat your social media accounts like a person trying to make friends not a business trying to make money. No matter how tempted you may be do not go for the hard sell or spam people with links to sign up to newsletters, join your Facebook group, follow you on other platforms etc. because you’ll undoubtedly achieve the opposite of what you are seeking.
Over to you:
Go and find 5 new accounts and start a conversation, it’s really that simple. You might choose to initiate this by:
· complimenting them
· being helpful
· showing you understand
· acknowledging how they feel
· asking a question or answering one they may have asked
· sharing an experience, common purpose or values
· expressing interest
· sharing an opinion or idea relating to their content
Then come back and let me know what happens!