OK – here’s a simple question for the business owners and managers out there: Would you say that a key benefit of your social media activities is lead generation?
According to a Booz & Company and Buddy Media 2011 study, 46% of companies saw lead/sale generation as a key benefit of using social media – that’s almost half of all the businesses surveyed! But I wonder, why isn’t this number higher? With the right strategy and process, any business can generate leads through social media.
1. Start at the right platforms
Many companies go into social media with the mindset of ‘If we build it they will come’. They set up a Facebook page and a Twitter profile and begin posting away, because those are the two most popular social networks.
However it’s important to consider first what’s the best platform for lead generation for you. Where are your prospects lurking? Don’t just maintain a presence on any social network – you have to be where your target customer is. For example if you are a B2B, it may be better to invest in a LinkedIn presence than a Facebook page.
Before you choose a social network for the purpose of lead generation, do some research on where your customers are.
2. Listen to conversations
Social media is about the conversation. If you treat it like another mass message medium you won’t get the full benefits. Of course, the number one thing to do is keep an eye out for people who are talking directly with you on social media. This isn’t hard to miss – you should be constantly monitoring your @mentions on Twitter, Facebook wall posts, Pinterest repins, blog and news mentions and so on.
But don’t miss out on the conversations that don’t necessarily show up in your notifications. Set yourself up with a social media monitoring service and search for plain-text mentions, mentions of your competitors, and conversations about your type of product/service. You may come across someone asking their Twitter followers: ‘Can anybody recommend me a good value (your product category here)?’ Gold!
3. Be human
Now here’s a very important part of social media success that many companies miss the point on – you have to act like a normal person on social media. Durr?
Yes, someone out there is just waiting to be sold your wonderful product. But don’t just jump in and tell them “We have the best ones – click here to buy NOW” – it may come off as rude and a little uncalled for.
I once was having a Twitter conversation with a friend and someone I didn’t know (and who didn’t even follow me, for that matter) just jumped in with a product-push comment. Good for him and his awesome social media monitoring ninja skillz, but to me it was the equivalent of someone pushing their way into a private conversation and suddenly throwing product brochures and a sales pitch at us. Be wary of jumping into conversations already happening between people on social media – you don’t want to be the socially retarded salesman!
A good way to begin sussing out the potential lead is to establish a connection – for example by following them on Twitter. Next, send them a non-pushy, personalised Direct Message or tweet, e.g. asking what exactly they are looking for and if you could help (see? Conversation, not sales messages!). The key to generating leads with social media is to listen well and engage well, to establish relationships for the long term – not to blast people’s personal feeds with advertising messages.
4. Be useful, interesting and relevant to the target customer
The first thing that a potential lead will see on a social network when you reach out to them will be your profile – so this solidifies their first impression of your company, brand and products. If the consumer finds nothing interesting/relevant/useful to their needs on your profile, you may be written off their consideration set. Hence, the importance of a content strategy to have great, shareable and interesting content available to the social consumer. Aim to create and distribute content with a clear and consistent focus to attracting the interest of your potential leads. If you can make yourself seem relevant and interesting to your target customers, they may follow you – and there you go! A lead who’s genuinely interested in what you have to offer.
These can be applied to any social network (and in real life as well). Ultimately generating leads through social media simply requires keeping to a clear focus on finding, establishing and following up on leads, and being relevant, helpful and interesting. If you have any tips to add do share them here!
FRANk can help you with setting up a social media strategy to listen for and generate leads (among our many other services!). Get in touch with us to find out more.