What is Social Media Outreach?

The traditional marketing concept has always been to ‘build creative’ (your campaign and messaging) and then ‘buy eyeballs’ (media placements like television ads). Proactive outreach (engaging one-on-one with a potential customer) hasn’t normally been included in the marketing approach as it is resource-intensive and usually reserved for the sales team. With the proliferation of social media, it is now effective for marketing teams to engage proactive outreach as part of the marketing mix. Below we discuss how social media outreach can connect with your potential customers while reaching higher conversion rates than broadcast marketing techniques ever could.

Marketing Strategies Often Confused With Outreach

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 the 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.

For more comprehensive definitions of these two types of marketing strategies, we define them in this blog post.

What Social Outreach Really is?

Historically, marketing has been making your campaign or messaging, getting impressions (TV, Billboards, Newspapers), and having 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.

But social media isn’t your typical traditional media. As a user, you have a greater ability to go out (not literally, which is a bonus) and target individuals. From there, you can have a personal one-on-one conversation in a systemized way.

What Outreach Looked Like in the Past

Before social networks, here were your 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 not engaging in a conversation your customer is already involved and interested in. You’re not able to see what they’ve been talking about in real-time or able to get a comprehensive profile about what they do. These past outreach opportunities were resource-intensive, with no way of controlling the message or having a specific way of implementing it.

This is where social media comes into play.  

How to Do Social Media Outreach

How to Do Social Media Outreach

What makes social media different is that you’re able to know so much about who you’re going after before you even interact with them.

Here’s what social media outreach could look like:

  • Following your potential customers
  • Favoriting their Tweets
  • Direct Messaging them
  • Looking at their feed and then commenting on one of their relevant Tweets
  • Going to their LinkedIn profile and favoriting one of their posts
  • Sending them a LinkedIn InMail
  • Adding them as a connection on LinkedIn
  • Going to their blog and commenting

This is a pretty long list of possibilities that awaits you with social media outreach. You may see a trend – acting like a person, not a company. These are all targeted, one-on-one interactions that are distinctive to social media. Targeting specific customers based on their interests and desires undoubtedly means a higher conversion rate than going around and knocking on doors.

Building a human relationship with your customer is extremely important, and now social media provides us with the ability to. Zappos has taught us a lot about creating the ultimate client experience. Building a relationship with your customers allows them to bond with your company. This personal attachment allows your customers to become your brand advocates, promoting your product with their own added enthusiasm. This is the most critical yet untapped attribute of social media outreach.


It may take some time to shift people’s mindsets. As a marketer, you may feel these tactics don’t scale well, but reaching out on social media in a systemized way can be very quick. It doesn’t take long to favorite a Tweet or start a conversation, especially if it can be automated. Compare this with the time it takes to make a cold call or send a personal email, and you’ll find this strategy can scale pretty well. With higher conversion rates, you also can spend a bit more resources on this strategy and channel.

Think about it: if you have an employee who has a booth at a conference, the number of conversations they’ll be able to have there and connections they’ll be able to make is much less than having that person on social media engaging with interested customers at the right time. So don’t be scared to break the traditional confines of marketing outreach! We’ll be right here to favorite your Tweets.

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