4 Ways to Use Social Media to Generate Leads

social media how toDo you use social media to generate inbound leads for your business?

Are you unsure about where and how to focus your efforts to meet your lead generation goals?

According to HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Annual Report, social media produces almost double the marketing leads of trade shows, telemarketing, direct mail or PPC.

If you’re starting a lead generation campaign, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ are all excellent places to begin, but knowing how to pull leads from the conversations that happen on these platforms takes some knowledge and practice.

In this article, I’ll share 4 ways you can use social media to generate inbound marketing leads for your business.

#1: Twitter Chats

Twitter chats are frequently scheduled discussions hosted by a Twitter account. Each chat uses a particular hashtag so that other Twitter users can follow the conversation even though topics change with each discussion.

Because of the focused audience communities that participate in Twitter chats, they are a great place to generate leads for your business.

small biz chat

The #SmallBizChat is an example of a Twitter chat that successfully engages its community every week.

How do you start? You can participate in Twitter chats in two ways: Join existing Twitter chats that are related to your industry or create and host your own Twitter chat. Whichever route you choose, join in on relevant chats that potential customers would be participating in to make sure you gain visibility with the right people.

You can find industry- and subject-specific chats that relate to your business in this extensive library of existing Twitter chats.

likeable chat

#Likeablechat is a weekly chat that offers social media tips and an opportunity to network with other marketers.

When participating in a Twitter chat, it’s important to be a good participant. This will help you to attract the leads you want for your business.

Use the hashtag set by the host. Ask and answer questions with contributions that are insightful and illustrate your understanding of the industry and your business offerings. Stay on topic and remember—this is not the forum for pitching your services.

Twitter chats are a place to establish thought leadership and credibility.

twitter chat participant

Join conversations in chat with valuable tips and insights to establish yourself as a credible source.

Here’s how to get the leads you’re looking for.

Once you’re taking part in a chat, research other participants who have tweeted you as part of the discussion or have participated in the chat overall.

conversation with other chat members

Friendly conversation with other chat members can help strengthen your ties and build long-lasting relationships on Twitter.

Follow individuals who could be potential customers down the line and keep tabs on any of their conversations that relate to your services.

Tweet with these connections outside of the chat and, when the time is right, direct message them to share additional links to content or marketing materials you have that will further establish your expertise and what your business could offer them.

Be sensitive and strategic in your pitch. Don’t oversell, spam, over-tweet or be vague with these relationships.

Wait for the right time in conversation to message someone about your business offerings. When you focus on building the right relationships through your Twitter chats, you’re sure to gather leads.

#2: LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn Groups are made up of a variety of subject areas, bringing together professionals of similar interests to discuss topics that relate to business. Again, you can find potential leads by either creating your own LinkedIn Group or by joining an existing group that focuses on your area of expertise.

While it’s possible to join up to 50 groups, I suggest you focus your efforts on a few of the right groups for your business.

linkedin group

Join LinkedIn Groups where potential customers or clients may be active, then engage in relevant conversations.

Browse the directory of groups to find the right match, join the discussions and connect with existing members. Begin by consistently posting your own content or others’ content that’s on topic. Participate in existing conversations by answering questions and providing resources.

ask questions

People ask questions in almost every LinkedIn Group, answer them to bring value and help establish relationships.

Here’s how to get the leads you’re looking for.

Identify group members who continually ask questions about your line of business or members who are generally looking for help. Publicly answer their questions from within the group, providing value and using brevity, then follow up with a more in-depth message by using the Reply Privately feature. This way you have both a public and a private point of contact with them.

reply privately feature

The Reply Privately feature is an often-overlooked tactic for generating quality leads from a one-on-one conversation where you’re able to provide value and build trust. This feature is found below a group member’s question under the More tab or by hovering over one of their comments in the discussion.

In your private message, answer their question in full and let them know you’re available to chat more extensively on the topic by phone, if need be. Phone calls within the right context, like a LinkedIn intro, are more likely than a cold call to turn this conversation into a potential lead-builder for your business.

When you focus on establishing credibility with the information you share and then take the relationships you make in LinkedIn Groups to the next step and one-on-one conversations, you’ll gather leads.

#3: Facebook Advertising

Running ads on Facebook can fulfill many different goals, one of which is generating leads from the right audience. Promoted Posts—an engaging form of Facebook advertising—highlight your content in the newsfeed of that audience.

promoted post

Promoted Posts generate more views of your content than it would organically receive on its own on Facebook, giving it that extra boost.

While Facebook isn’t often conducive to direct sales, you can build trust with Facebook users when you consistently distribute quality content and engage in one-to-one communication through long-term interactions.

Use Promoted Posts to highlight quality content from your Facebook Page or your website. Share a link to your latest contest, ebook, instructional video, blog post, lookbook or other content that doesn’t send Facebook users directly to a product or services landing page.

sign up form

Signup forms like this one from Offerpop require Facebook users to enter information about themselves in order to enter a contest or see original content.

Here’s how to get the leads you’re looking for.

To help you capitalize on the click-through of a Facebook user, use a signup form that reveals the content on your website or Facebook tab only after the user fills out any required information that you define. This could be an email address, demographic data or geographic location information.

The more information your business has about a Facebook user, the better you can personalize your future messaging to match their interests, making it more likely that they will convert from lead to customer in the future.

With a content strategy adapted to your audience on Facebook and the consistent visibility offered by Promoted Posts, you’ll likely gather leads from your community on Facebook.

#4: Google+ Hangouts

Google+ Hangouts on Air give you the ability to communicate directly with your audience online, in real time.

Consider hosting a hangout focused on your offerings as a business to show the audience your unique value and, most importantly, to show a human face behind your business.

The types of hangouts that are beneficial for lead generation are:

  • Customer service sessions
  • Interviews with experts and leaders
  • Giveaways and contests
  • Free product demos

    sephora hangout

    Sephora hosted a Google+ Hangout on Air to discuss what’s happening behind the scenes and to talk with beauty bloggers and experts about the latest trends in beauty.

There are many ways to host a Hangout on Air with your audience. You can allow anyone to join in the conversation or limit the discussion to a few individuals. Choose the approach best suited to your the goals.

From the beginning, define what you’re looking to achieve from your hangout and how you plan to connect with your audience before, during and after the event.

Here’s how to get the leads you’re looking for.

Offer value above all, and use strong calls to action throughout your Hangout on Air. Encourage participants and viewers to interact with your business, learn more about your offerings and give people the tools and information they need to make an informed decision about their purchases.

Record your Google+ hangout and save it to YouTube so you can use the video in a blog post, share it across social media and add it to relevant YouTube playlists.

To further drive leads for your business, add links to the products and services discussed on the hangout in the description of the YouTube video for easy reference.

sephora youtube links

In the YouTube video from their hangout, Sephora included links to the products they discussed to make it as easy as possible for people to become customers.

Google+ Hangouts on Air offer businesses a great opportunity to create content and connect with potential clients.

Over to You

Social media offers many untapped opportunities to connect with potential leads for your business. These are just a few suggestions on how you can activate your social audiences and generate leads that can affect your bottom line.

What do you think? How are you using social media to drive leads for your business? What social media channels have you found most successful for generating leads? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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About the Author, Brian Honigman

Brian Honigman is a freelance writer, a marketing consultant and a social media enthusiast focused on stregthening relationships with brands, startups and their customers. Follow him on Twitter @BrianHonigman. Other posts by »




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