26 Ways to Use Social Media for Lead Generation

social media how toIs your business looking for leads?

As enticing as the saying is, “If you build it, they will come,” we all know that just because we build a social media presence, people don’t magically start knocking down our door.

Instead, we need to encourage people to come to our social pages and once they’re there, we have to create enough value for them to hang around. And through these repeated exchanges, casual users can become regular visitors as well as valuable leads.

In previous posts, I’ve written A-Z guides to help create the absolute best presence on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs. Now let’s turn our attention to harnessing the power of those efforts for lead generation.

#1: Assets

As part of your social media marketing plan, Michelle deHaaff suggests that companies examine social media and online assets to see what they can leverage for full social media engagement. She identifies seven key assets: location, people, stories, images, video, audio and words to help us think about engaging more fully.

#2: Brand Message

Ethan Lyon suggests that users want to identify with a brand. He offers Nike’s identity as an example, “Customers buy Nike because the brand gives them the confidence to succeed—much like an effective coach.” What is your brand message? What should users know about you? Can they tell that from what you’re posting?

#3: Compelling Messages

Use compelling messages throughout your communications. Craft messages that users can relate to and won’t be able to resist. These are generally the messages that speak like real people and not marketing spin. Below is an example from Pogue’s Post.

david pogue verizon

David Pogue uses a conversational tone and a bit of humor to drive home a point from Pogue's Post.

#4: Differentiations

Because there’s a tremendous amount of competition vying for consumers’ attention in the social media arena, businesses that can differentiate themselves will stand out and get noticed. Zappos Service Twitter page shows how to make it friendly and feel like you’re hanging out with a good friend. Create remarkable content.

zappos twitterhttp://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=8364&message=1

Zappos employees tell you when they're signing off and when they're leaving for the night.

#5: Etiquette

Michelle Golden recommends in her book Social Media Strategies for Professionals and Their Firms to practice good etiquette. “Definitely don’t write about and link only to your stuff. Instead, go out of your way to promote others liberally.”

#6: Feedback

Users who write comments and ask questions appreciate receiving feedback. Make it a regular practice to take time to respond.

sme feedback

A fan poses a question on Social Media Examiner's Facebook page and Cindy King responds with a timely answer and directs the fan to a link.

#7: Google

Remember that the social media updates you post via your blog, Facebook page, tweets and YouTube channel appear in search results, too. The person searching is an active user looking for information, and bringing the user to your pages is an excellent way to get in front of potential customers.

google search

A person looking for sources for how to choose a paint color would find blog posts and videos. This person is looking for help and the companies have provided advice and solutions. The companies have found ways to get in front of potential customers.

#8: Help a Reporter Out

Companies are often looking for ways to share experiences that might be referenced in blog posts and articles. You don’t have to be a big company to get picked up for a story.

Sign up for Help a Reporter Out and when you have a story to share on a topic, offer the information to the reporter. HARO is one good way to spread information and get high-quality, free publicity for your business. Keep your eyes open for other ways to distribute information about your business with social media press releases.

help a reporter

HARO serves as a vital social networking resource for sources, reporters and advertisers.

#9: Icons

Social media icons help users share your content and offer ways for people to like your content. Likes are valuable votes of confidence and go a long way with users who may have come to your site for the first time. Make your content easy to share.

#10: Joy

In Guy Kawasaki’s new book Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions, he tells us that achieving trustworthiness will go a long way for a business. People want to do business with companies and people they can trust. And sometimes it means that we may end up giving our time or some kind of service that we’re not compensated for. Guy suggests that we give with joy.

#11: Knowledge-sharing

Share your knowledge freely in blog posts and white papers. Some businesses are afraid they’ll give away all of their secrets. Your knowledge is a valuable asset; don’t be afraid to share what you know.

hubspot knowledge sharing

HubSpot's inbound Internet marketing blog regularly shares the blogger's personal experiences in marketing and is very generous about sharing tips.

#12: Leverage Content Products

Jeff Bullas recommends using 7 content products for marketing: social media, e-newsletters, blogs, white papers, article marketing, case studies and online videos.

Use a good mix of content, because not all users will read a case study or watch an online video. You’ll increase your odds of being seen by more people by using a mix of content products.

#13: Monitor Conversations

Monitor conversations about your brand and competitors. There are many social media listening tools that will help you keep a pulse on what’s being talked about. The more you know, the more responsive you can be.

#14: Nobodies Are the New Somebodies

One of the most serious mistakes we can make is to pass up a potential lead because we don’t perceive the company or person to be a valuable lead. As Guy Kawasaki says, “Nobodies are the new somebodies in the world of wide-open communications.” Treat everyone with the same attention and respect.

#15: Offline Skills

Online skills don’t have to be inherently different than the way we act offline. Erica Swallow suggests that we use our offline skills and go out there and “Meet people, communicate and build relationships… Be genuine, track conversations and respond to inquiries promptly and thoroughly.”

#16: Produce Content

Not only do we have to produce content, we also have to produce enough of it. HubSpot provides some interesting recommendations: “Businesses must produce enough content for their blog to kick off growth in leads, which starts with about 24 to 51 posts.” HubSpot found that more indexed pages on Google also translate to more leads. They suggest that every 50 to 100 incremental indexed pages can mean double-digit lead growth.

#17: Questions

Lisa Barone recommends that social media marketers should “answer questions because they’re a good way to establish your authority, but also for people to ‘test’ you out.”

#18: Relationships

Lisa Barone also suggests that “social media is an emerging lead generation tool because it lowers the barrier to the sale by building relationships, displaying expertise and through networking you’re able to bring in more people than cold calling ever could.”

#19: Showcase Your Experience

According to Erica Swallow, “The first step to engaging a community of potential customers is sharing content that showcases your expertise. A simple social media update usually isn’t enough to convey a full analysis on a topic. Include links with your updates that expand on key ideas. Keep in mind that your goal is to create value for your followers. Learn what your fans respond to and what they don’t, and then adjust your updates based on that information.”

#20: Target Personas

Buyer personas have been around long before social media hit our radar screens, but marketers have found that having a good picture in mind of the target customer is beneficial in terms of how we write our content.

A blog, for example, can have multiple categories of topics and so you may find that certain categories speak more to certain personas than others. And certain Facebook and Twitter updates may appeal to certain users.

Regardless of how you segment these groups, it’s incredibly beneficial to share target persona information with whoever is developing content for your social media channels.

target persona

Before writing, review your persona list to remind yourself whom you're conversing with.

#21: Useful Content

Kristina Halvorson, author of Content Strategy for the Web, says that if our content isn’t supporting the successful fulfillment of our business objectives or our users’ top goals, then it’s a waste of pixels. She suggests adding two columns to a content inventory: value to user and value to business.

#22: Value

Guy Kawasaki says there are three types of value: 1) pointers to useful, inspiring or entertaining content, 2) personal insights, observations or content, 3) advice and assistance. Guy’s recommendation is to pass along these gems to friends and followers to help them derive more value from online resources.

#23: Word of Mouth

The Marqui Web Marketing Blog’s post 6 Ways Social Media Marketing Helps B2B Lead Generation says, “Word of mouth has been, and continues to be, one of the best ways to generate more leads for your business. Buyers tend to trust peer referrals more than any other source of information and since social media allows people to share their experiences (both good and bad) with a wide range of people, this can help increase trust in your company’s products and services.”

#24: Excellence

The Network Singularity blog says “there are 5 C’s to social media excellence: coordination of social media activities, commitment means engaging with your environment and deliberately pursuing social interactions, confidence in your social media activities, comprehension of social media, and cultivation of worthwhile and friendly relationships.”

#25: Yes

Being likable on social media enhances our potential for lead generation. Guy Kawasaki says one way to become likable is to “adopt a yes attitude. This means your default response to people’s requests is yes… By contrast, a no response stops everything… To make a default yes work, you must assume people are reasonable, honest and grateful.”

#26: Zeal

Enthusiasm is contagious. By showing the fervor you have for your business, products and services, and through the content you share on your social media channels, users will be inclined to want to stick around, engage and build a relationship. Reach out and show your enthusiasm.

What ways have you generated leads with social media? What would you add to this list? Leave your comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Debbie Hemley

Debbie Hemley is a freelance writer and social media coach. She helps businesses develop and maintain social media content strategies. Follow her on Twitter @dhemley & Facebook. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.colemanmg.com Antonio Coleman

    Its always good for people to be able to find your content through Google searches..free traffic is the best and social media paves the way for that..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Anais

    How many times a day should I post to my Facebook fan page?

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Hi Anais – We post about 3 to 5 times a day. The key is to be non-promotional if possible.

  • deb1221

    I agree. You work hard for that content may as well reap the benefit of being found through a search. Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Anais, Good question! There are some people who believe posting to a Facebook page shouldn’t happen more than 2-3 times a week. That being said, it really depends on the kind of page it is. A news site obviously needs to update frequently but I think the point for the rest of us with business pages is not to subject our fans to potential “update fatigue.” You may think try varying the day and time of your posts and see what works best. Hope that helps. Thanks for reading! Best, Debbie

  • http://dissertationtoday.com/dissertation dissertation service

    yes. agree with you too. the article is great and the author did a great job! best wishes and thanks!

  • Mabel Diaz-Joslyn

    Great thoughts about monitoring conversations and the mention of Guy Kawasaki’s point that “Nobodies are the new somebodies in the world of wide-open communications”. Treating everyone out there with the same attention and respect is crucial for nuturing them as leads and making them eventual conversions.

  • deb1221

    Thank you for your comments! Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Thanks, Mabel. Guy’s new book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions is filled with loads of great insights like this one, too. Best, Debbie

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  • Brooke Palm

    Great article Debbie. I’m going to bookmark it for future reference. What are your thoughts on using controversial statements or content on Facebook or Twitter to get the conversation going?

  • deb1221

    Hi Brooke, Thanks for your comment. Hmm, did my family put you up to this? All kidding aside, I guess I try to stay away from controversial at all costs. You never know how someone is going to interpret something and misconstrue your intentions. But that’s me. It may work for others well. I guess I’d be interested in hearing too what others think about it. Hope that helps! Best, Debbie

  • http://www.austintenantadvisors.com/ Nathan K Smith

    My favorites are knowledge sharing and promoting others. Giving is the best way to generate leads. Obviously If you promote yourself all the time you will get some leads in the short term, and you have to work harder to get those. However giving and sharing useful knowledge and going out of your way to help others succeed will pay dividends time and time again.

  • deb1221

    Thanks, Austin. Funny how that works isn’t it? Best, Debbie

  • http://www.ProfitParrot.com Profit Parrot

    Awesome post :)
    I will try to use all of these effectively to grow my following and my blog
    Thanks again for the great tips!

    -Lark Miller

  • http://felixrelationshipmarketing.com/ Juan Felix

    Hi Debbie, I’ve been taking notes while reading your post. High value from A to Z. Thanks a lot.

  • http://balticcat.livejournal.com Nataly

    Hi, well I liked your post a lot – it’s exactly what I needed as I am running an SMM campaign for one business now. Thanks!
    Have started translating it into Russian and here is the first part: http://balticcat.livejournal.com/8784.html. To be continued )))

  • deb1221

    Thanks, Lark. Glad you found helpful. Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Thanks, Juan! Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Nataly, Glad to hear post is helpful. The link didn’t work, if you have chance try and post it again. I’d love to see it! Best, Debbie

  • http://www.austintenantadvisors.com Austin Office Space

    Great article! Love the tips!

  • http://talkingmediasales.com Ben Shute

    Hey Debbie,

    Another great list of ideas. I think #15 is such a key point, and one that can be forgotten when dealing virtually.

    Cheers
    Ben

  • deb1221

    Thanks! Glad you like them. Debbie

  • deb1221

    Hi Ben, Thanks for your comment. I agree. Offline and online dynamics can get pretty muddled at times if people don’t pay particular attention. What’s that adage…don’t say online what you wouldn’t say to someone in person. Best, Debbie

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Shilpi Roy – Virtual Assistant

    Hi,
    Thanks a lot for this great post. I fell social media is effective way of connecting with potential customers and we are trying to improve ourselves in this area to do better.

  • http://balticcat.livejournal.com Nataly

    Hi Debbie, here is the link again: http://balticcat.livejournal.com/8784.html
    But it’s only a part of the article, will do the second part later.

  • http://www.redcom.in Neha Shah

    A well sought out database of engaging customers is must in Social Media. Identifying the most engaging users in the network and even the probable customers for business is the key in Social Media.

  • Kosiyae@yahoo.com

    Hello!
    how are you doing ?
    i wish to connect my business on social media for promotion
    do i need to pay ?

  • Aurelius_Tjin

    Great insights. Good Article. I will share this article to my friends who are bloggers and I’m sure this tips will help them as it helps me. Thanks Debbie. :)

  • http://www.stephaniesammons.com/ Stephanie Sammons

    Great ideas here Debbie thanks for sharing!

  • http://paynelessadvice.com/ Donald Payne

    Great Tips!

  • deb1221

    Great comment, Neha. I agree, there’s nothing like a well-maintained database of customers and prospects. Thanks for reading. Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Thanks, Aurelius!

  • deb1221

    Thanks, Stephanie. Appreciate it! Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Thanks, Donald!

  • http://twitter.com/rachelhonoway rachelhonoway

    Great post, Debbie! I just posted something similar about my brother-in-law’s dog doing a better job with social media than most companies!

    I think that a lot of companies approach social as just another media outlet. They think that all they need to do is rearrange their advertisements a little bit and regurgitate them on Facebook, when in fact they need to approach it as an avenue to build relationships. The smart companies (like Zappos) have this figured out and are already prospering from it.

    Again, great post!

  • deb1221

    Thanks for your comments. Does the dog have a Facebook page yet? Apparently Mark Zuckerberg’s dog does and lots of other cats and dogs, too! http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/2011/mar/09/mark-zuckerberg-dog-facebook-page

    What interesting times these are!

    Best,
    Debbie

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  • http://ariherzog.com/blog/ Ari Herzog

    These are great tips. I’d add to #23 by extending word of mouth beyond the web and into your daily life. Why not print a flyer about your website or blog and post it up at the local coffeeshop bulletin board?

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  • http://twitter.com/WorkhorseAustin Grant Chambers

    Great article Debbie and thank you for sharing. Some outstanding take-aways in here.

  • http://www.mywebcareer.com Greg Coyle

    Great tips, Debbie! All of these can be applied to both businesses and personal brands. Using social media can be a daunting task to take on to improve your business and these tips are all definitely useful. I particularly agree with having a consistent brand over multiple platforms and thinking closely about what message you’re trying to send.

  • http://www.goldenpractices.com/ Michelle Golden

    Debbie, thanks SO much for including my book in your phenomenal list of 26 ways to use SM for lead generation. I clicked through just to see what you were saying and imagine my surprise when I saw my name in #5!! Thank you!!

  • http://www.thewebcitizen.com Ilias Chelidonis

    Hi Debbie, i believe that someone needs to start from Content and then all the rest will follow. I agree with your ways to use social media i would just place Content as number 1 in terms of priority.

    Elias

  • http://about.me/russalman Russ Alman

    Very good article. I have a number of social media clients and colleagues I will share this with.

  • http://insurancecoverage.me/life-insurance-loans Phil on Insurance Loans

    All great points, Etiquette is definitely important so one doesn’t come across as self serving. On #16 content is really important and the frequency as Google loves updates frequently.

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  • http://www.bestwebhostingblog.net/ Preethi

    From here, i gathered a lot of information about social media that would be more helpful for all the people without any doubts. So, i would like to say thanks for given great article on here.

  • http://www.tonvanhouten.nl Ton van Houten

    Top post.

  • deb1221

    Nice points, Ari. Thanks for reading and commenting. Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Thanks, Grant. Debbie

  • deb1221

    Hi Greg, Thanks. I agree, messaging is really key. Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Hi Michelle, How cool to stumble upon your name in the list! Thanks for being a great resource. Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Hi Elias, Thanks for your comment. Yes, I agree content is king (or queen)…whatever, it’s BIG! Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Hi Russ, Thanks for sharing the post w/clients and colleagues. Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Hi Phil, Thanks for reading and commenting. Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    HI Preethi, You’re very welcome. Thanks for reading. Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Hi Ton, Thanks for reading and commenting. Best, Debbie

  • http://www.FrogPond.com;http://www.HTEN.com Fr0gP0nd

    Debbie, I just added social media icons to a real estate enewsletter I create for agent to send to consumers. I’ve add facebook, twitter, linkedin, youtube and my blog icons that link to the individual agents social media sites. My questions is will this increase the agents seo? Here’s a link to an example: http://demo.housingtrendsenewsletter.com If this isn’t increasing agents SEO then what would you suggest? Thanks, Susie

  • http://alpharettarealestateguide.com/ Sabine Taylor

    Debbie, seriously is this great and I am not sure if the top universities are teaching this…and people charge for this. great stuff

  • deb1221

    Thank you, Sabine. Really appreciate your kind words. Best, Debbie

  • http://lighthouseinsights.in/ Prasant Naidu

    replying back to your customers and making them feel that we respect you is nothing like it. this behavior or etiquette from the business indeed will increase word of mouth and your customers will be your brand representatives.
    thanks for the post and making me a part of one of ur examples(fb) :D

  • http://crowdbooster.com/ Ricky Yean

    Not just “lead-gen,” this is a great post about things to keep in mind when looking to grow your account.

  • http://twitter.com/Crys4pr Crystal H Peterson

    Just a few things to add on your points for “Produce Content” and “Word of Mouth” – brands can and should leverage the content that is already being created by their best customers (AKA Brand Advocates), which also touches into Word of Mouth. This adds to the content well for marketers, and also expands upon Word of Mouth.

  • nupurmaskara

    Like the way you’ve explained your points with screenshots- very clear then. Thanks!

  • http://www.marketingm8.co.uk Peter L Masters MCIM

    A great post and thank you Debbie! My enthusiasm is boundless and sometimes I’ll admit when it comes to Social Media I can overdo it and I sometimes forget that friends and family might not be quite as excited about all the new developments as I am! I absolutely agree that being positive is SO very important especially during the recent (ongoing?) world wide economic downturn, it’s just too easy to join the doom and gloom club. My post earlier this week also proved that humour (and humor) really connects people all over the world! I tried to spread a little laughter and it really, really worked! We all work extremely hard, long hours are more than commonplace, waking up and checking Tweets on the mobile next to the bed isn’t that rare nowadays! My post ‘Social Media satire and how Social Media is changing our lives’ deals with just some of the ways our lives have really changed since we all climbed aboard the Social Media roller coaster. I am truly amazed at the amount of people who have loved the laughter, I’ve never had so much feedback and the comments and Tweets are endless. I am considering this idea on a monthly basis, any more would spoil it, but a great laugh once a month might do everyone the world of good! Seems like we all need to smile and have a bit of fun more often. Keep up the great work, Peter

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  • deb1221

    Hi Peter, Thanks so much. I agree that humor is a much needed addition to our lives. Hope you continue with the satire on a monthly basis. Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Thanks! Glad you found it helpful. Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Hi Crystal, Thanks for your excellent points. Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Hi Ricky, Thanks for reading and commenting. Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Thank you! Best, Debbie

  • http://www.marketingm8.co.uk Peter L Masters MCIM

    Thanks for the response Debbie, I must say that you guys at SME really do make the effort to communicate with people and that’s clearly what has created such a solid community. I’m really not being patronizing, it’s just that more people talk about it than do it! Michael & Cindy, among others have also been great and that’s what it’s all about! The Social Media satire has been such a HUGE runaway success that I feel compelled to do more, with global news getting worse by the minute it’s what people need. Thanks for the encouragement; frankly, I only needed one person to say yes and it’s so much fun, I might not even wait a whole month!

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Shilpi Roy – Virtual Assistant

    “I feel that Social Media is the cheapest and the most effective option of connecting with potential customers. It is certainly here to stay. We have got many new small business clients and also professionals(doctors), who are using Social media to connect with their clients…and to collaborate…It is important that the business decides before hand what they want to acheive – Branding, Word Of Mouth, or Just Sales…and then take the approach that best matches these goals…

  • Guest

    Thanks for providing this great content, I am using it as posts on my own facebook, as it is applicable to almost every one in all walks of life

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  • deb1221

    NIce to hear from you, Peter. I say you go with it. No need to wait a whole month if you’re moved before. Strike while the iron’s hot. Debbie

  • deb1221

    Hi, I’m happy to hear that social media has been effective for you. And good point that businesses need to decide directions to take. Definitely key to good strategy. And thanks for reading and commenting here. Best, Debbie

  • deb1221

    Glad to hear the content is relevant for you. Appreciate your comment! Best, Debbie

  • http://www.marketingm8.co.uk Peter L Masters MCIM

    Hi Debbie, that’s the 2nd ‘Go for it’ response I’ve had! 1 from you guys in the USA and 1 via Quora from India, I guess the world’s trying to tell me something. Thanks so much, you guys are always great at getting back and encouraging positive Social Media attitudes! Great stuff, thanks. I prepared the next batch earlier today, because it’s just so much fun, I’ll post mid week, so keep an eye open. Thank you Debbie!

  • http://twitter.com/gautamtandon Gautam Tandon

    Nice post. I have tried to look at YouTube and Facebook as one of the two main emerging Lead Generation Platforms. However, I believe time will only tell if these new methods are actually better than what we already have or just a new manifestation of what already exists; Are they just a hype like most of the things are now a days? Or is there something really innovative about them? What has your experience with YouTube and Facebook?

    -GT
    Here’s the article I’m talking about : http://blog.ellipsissolutions.com/2011/03/23/youtube-and-facebook-two-emerging-ways-of-lead-generation/

  • http://wearqr.com QR Code Marketing

    Lots of good advice in there. Appreciate you taking the time to write it.

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  • http://socialmediamanagerinc.com David Mon

    This is a great article, I really like #5 IMO too many people under promote others, the easiest way to get some one to promote you is to promote them. Its as old as I scratch your back you scratch mine.

    Great post thanks!
    Dave

  • http://www.southernstatesinsurance.com/ Jim Schubert

    Good stuff. Especially like #16. We’re just starting out blogging, so it’s good to know search engines will start responding better after we write more blogs.

    Thanks!

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  • propagandahouse

    A bunch of great tips here. One that I’m finding particularly useful as a B2B marketer is #15 – implementing offline skills. A lot of social media marketers take the approach of trying to create relationships with too many people at once, which leaves their message sounding as if they were designed for many. What people are looking for online is one on one interaction though – and I’ve found by taking the time to personally communicate with people one on one I’ve created much stronger and more valuable relationships than trying to broadcast messages to many. 

    Thanks for the great read!
    Cheers
    Dan

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  • http://www.promotionismybusiness.com/ Michael Kowalsky

    Didn’t really learn any “tactics” as far as using social media to get leads. For example, answering questions posted in LinkedIn Answers is an actual way (i.e. tactic) to get your business in front of new people, a certain amount of whom may actually end up as leads.

    Very disappointing article.

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  • assignment writing

    This is a very helpful for website owners & online marketers. Thanks









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