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