There’s no formula for creating a wow-worthy post on social media. A post that took hours to put together can be met with little fanfare. Off-the-cuff ideas can blow up at random. At the end of the day, it’s more random than not.
Your social media engagement strategy is a different story.
A proactive marketing strategy can improve your customer relationships, brand reputation and your standing amongst key competitors. It’s not a magic trick for overnight growth, but in a way, it’s even better. It’s a controllable, scalable path toward long-term rewards.
Our team uses a few Sprout features to proactively engage with people across social. In this article, we’re peeling back the curtain to share our approach to proactive engagement. Plus, we’ve also rounded up our top tips for creating a strategy of your own.
What is proactive marketing on social media?
Proactive marketing is an audience engagement strategy that prioritizes entering conversations about your industry or brand that don’t explicitly mention your brand handle, alongside the ones that do.
For example, a company that sells hair care products might proactively engage with posts from content creators that don’t directly tag or mention their products as a relationship-building practice. This shows both the creator and their fans that the brand is keeping up with relevant conversations in the industry.
Why your proactive marketing strategy matters
Proactive marketing helps brands get more out of their social media engagement strategy. It shows your audience that you’re actively trying to connect and communicate with prospects and customers.
That can create a major competitive differentiator on social media. Take Chewy, for example. Their proactive marketing strategy takes social conversations offline with flowers, portraits and other gifts. These special touches have earned them some nationwide media coverage, cementing their status as customer care all-stars.
It's the least we could do, Anna. We hope these flowers will help to keep your spirits up. 🌹💙
— Chewy (@Chewy) June 15, 2022
This just goes to show that posting isn’t the only way to create a memorable social media moment. An empathy-driven, proactive marketing strategy is more than enough to turn heads (and raise follower counts), too.
How Brand Keywords in Sprout’s Smart Inbox support proactive marketing on social
Brand Keywords are custom Twitter searches that pull social posts into your Sprout Social Smart Inbox in real-time. You can interact with these posts directly from your inbox, just like any tagged message.
This feature helps social media professionals track conversations that use specific terms, hashtags or social handles.
Including these messages in your Smart Inbox can elevate your proactive marketing strategy by creating a process that mimics your established engagement strategy. Depending on your inbox volume, you can even create separate Custom Inbox views—one for direct mentions and another for Brand Keywords—to make engagement tasks easier to divide and conquer.
How #TeamSprout uses Brand Keywords in the Smart Inbox
Brand Keywords create more flexibility around managing conversations on social. Combine that with the many filtering options available in the Smart Inbox and you get tons of different set-up options.
At Sprout, we’re always tweaking our keyword approach. Small changes here and there can help surface conversation opportunities that best align with our brand goals. We even save some filter settings as Custom Inbox Views for easy access. They monitor:
- General brand conversations: Messages that directly or indirectly mention the Sprout brand.
- Investor conversations: Messages that mention keywords that cover our stock and other conversations that involve investor relations.
- Industry conversations: Messages that are talking about social at large, from an industry and professional development standpoint.
Separating these streams into three different views supports deeper focus as we move through engagement tasks—a major benefit when it comes to social media inbox management.
How to create your own proactive marketing strategy with Sprout
There’s no single approach to proactive marketing on social. The conversations your brand can weigh in on are never-ending. That’s why it’s important to create a strategy that focuses on creating social media business value. Here’s how to get it done:
1. Determine your team’s bandwidth
Creating a proactive marketing strategy means leveling up your social media strategy. Like all new endeavors, it takes time.
Consider how much time your team spends on reactive engagement (i.e. responding to tags and mentions). What is your daily inbox volume like? If that alone is tough to manage, then you may want to prioritize creating a business case for expanding your social team.
If there’s wiggle room to work with, then proceed to the next step.
2. Identify conversations that provide value to your organization
Use company and department goals to decide which conversations present the largest opportunities for your team.
For example, if your big goal this year is brand awareness, you may want to prioritize conversations around key influencer partnerships or larger industry discussions. Engaging with those posts can expose your brand to new audiences interested in your products or services.
Here are some potential Brand Keyword use cases to get inspiration flowing:
- If your company hosts a lot of events (live or digital), use Brand Keywords to create Custom Inbox Views for live engagement during the events.
- If you receive a lot of product feedback on social, you can use Brand Keywords to organize messages by product or sentiment.
- If you work with co-marketing partners, you can create multiple partner-specific Brand Keywords to proactively build on those relationships through social.
3. Create Brand Keywords and start engaging
Once you’ve decided on the conversations you’d like to monitor, it’s time to set up your Brand Keywords.
To create a new Brand Keyword, visit the Sources drop down from the Filter Menu in the main view of your Smart Inbox. Then, click the Manage Keywords button.
From there, you can create or remove keywords as needed. Once you click Save Keyword, messages will begin to show up in your Smart Inbox.
Pro tip: If you find that a new keyword is surfacing too many conversations to manage, you can quickly remove the messages from your inbound message stream using the Filter Menu.
4. Adjust your keyword setup
As you test out your new proactive marketing strategy, you’ll quickly learn that some keywords are more helpful than others.
For example, conversations around the terms “Sprout” and “Social” separately can surface a variety of conversations. Some relate to our brand. Others are about gardening or even “sprout”-ing an idea.
Try Advanced Search Options to fine-tune your results. This is a test-and-learn activity, so it may take time to get right. If you’re not pulling the conversations you’re looking for during your first go, just keep trying new combinations.
Bonus Step: Use Social Listening
If you already have a social-specific proactive marketing strategy in place, then you might be ready to kick things up a notch with social media listening.
Social Listening in Sprout can provide an at-a-glance summary of wider industry conversations, including themes and sentiment trends. Use it as a gut check before entering conversations on larger social or cultural moments. It can help ensure your contribution is on-brand while reducing risk.
Level up your proactive marketing strategies with Sprout
Social media insights can help you get ahead of conversations, establishing your brand as a forward-thinking and relevant contributor to its industry. Brand Keywords are a powerful social media inbox management tool, but we’re still just scratching the surface of what you can do with Sprout.
Want a full look at what our engagement features can do for your social media strategy? Start your free 30-day Sprout Social trial today.
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