Social media marketing is under-utilized and misunderstood in general. But when it comes to lead generation, few marketers are making good use of the social tools available. That’s a big missed opportunity because social media can be the perfect tool for generating leads.
The problem is that many users zero in on likes and shares, then forget about the end goal. Yes, visibility is good. Brand awareness is good. But at some point, we have to think about the bottom line.
Sales are what keep your business going. And leads are an important intermediate step on the way to sales. Social media platforms are not sales platforms. But they can help you connect with people who may be interested in what you have to offer. The difficult part is getting from likable content to action.
So let’s take a step back and examine what it really takes to get your social media accounts to work for lead generation.
What is a lead, anyway?
Lead is a sticky term, but here I’m using it to stand for any instance when you are able to contact a potential customer, and that customer might legitimately make a purchase. So if you’re sending out messages to every person who’s ever liked one of your posts, I don’t consider that a lead. Because many of those people have no interest whatsoever in what you’re selling.
To be considered a lead, the person you’re contacting must have expressed some form of interest in your business. Or, at least, you must have a reason to believe that they are interested. If you just send out mass messages, that’s the equivalent of the social media cold call. You don’t want to gain a reputation as a business that spams people, and that’s basically what you’d be doing in this case. So hold off on willy-nilly messaging, and think instead about a more focused, directed strategy for generating leads.
Content is as important as ever.
When developing a lead generation strategy for social media, you want to think first about how to gain new followers and engage your current followers. Your social media accounts won’t work for lead generation if no one’s paying attention. If you develop and nurture a following, you’ll be able to work on leads from there.
Even though you shouldn’t get so hung up on brand awareness that you forget about leads and sales, brand awareness is an essential first step. People need to know you’re there. So, if you haven’t yet, develop a solid content strategy. Your strategy should take into account your business’ goals as well as your personal expertise. It should also account for your audience’s background, needs, and interests.
Only when you are producing content that gets noticed can you begin to focus on generating leads. Your leads will follow from the content that captures your audience’s interest.
It’s always ideal to have a reason to contact someone. Getting in touch out of the blue just makes you look like a spammer. The best possible way to find a reason is to have the other party grant it. That is, the person you are contacting should, in the best of all worlds, have already said “hey, I’m interested in what you’re selling. If you want to get in touch, that would be cool.” Obviously, I’m paraphrasing here. Most of the time, the person on the other end of the exchange won’t be so explicit. But there are certainly ways to see if someone is even remotely interested. And you should take the steps to make sure they are before you reach out.
The best way to see if someone is interested in being contacted is by getting them to provide their contact information. As a general rule, consumers do not hand out their info if they don’t want to be contacted. On the contrary, they guard their personal details carefully and only hand them out in the right situation.
And you have the ability to create the right situation. Rather than sitting there and waiting for people to come to you, you can put out the welcoming mat. If you want potential customers to express interest, and hopefully provide contact details, there are some specific methods you may want to employ.
Run a Contest.
Social media contests are a great way to generate brand awareness. But, as we’ve already noted, brand awareness alone doesn’t keep your business afloat. So what else can you get from a contest without driving people away or sending the wrong message?
There’s a fine line between asking for a little info (to participate in a contest) and interrogating participants. You need to strike a balance. Hassle-free entrance, with no extra information needed, will gain the greatest number of participants. But you’ll have no way to know how many of those are potential customers.
The balance comes in when you decide how valuable the award is vs. how much information the entrant has to provide. A high-value contest can get away with asking for a lot of information. A low-value contest, not so much.
The best of all worlds is to give away a product related to one of your products or services. That way, you at least have the assurance that entrants are looking for what you have to offer. So even if you have a small prize to give away, those who are willing to give away their contact info for a chance to win can be considered leads.
For a bigger giveaway (still, ideally, your offerings should be related to your product), you can ask for more information. Consumer background and demographic information are fine to request if you believe it will be given in earnest by potential customers.
Generally, contests and giveaways have multiple goals. One important one is brand awareness. So you can design your contest with the goal of being recognized and remembered. But lead generation can be either a primary or a secondary goal. At least you’ll know who has participated in a social media contest. At best, you’ll have a lot more information.
All content is a call to action.
Content is never an end unto itself. As a person who runs a business and cares about the bottom line, you have to think about the ways that content will generate sales and revenue. It may not be the immediate result. But in the long term, the number of likes you get has zero importance if no additional sales are made.
To convert your valuable content into leads, and eventually sales, you need a strong call to action. And you should incorporate that call to action into as many pieces of content as you can – including what you post on social media. Basically, the call to action asks the reader to click or subscribe or look closely at what you have to offer. It’s a low-pressure statement that essentially tells the reader, “hey, if you enjoyed this content, then you might be able to benefit. No harm in checking it out, right?”
Along with the call to action, you should also provide readers with an easy way to take action. In most cases, that means providing a link to your website. A phone number or physical business address might also make sense in some instances. It just depends on the specifics of your business. If you can offer something for free or at a discount, that makes your call to action even stronger. For instance, you might present a trial membership, or tell readers they’ll receive 10% off if they mention that they found you on social media.
You can get creative with the wording of the call to action, but don’t let creativity obscure your message. Readers should know immediately what they’re being asked to do, and how they will benefit from taking action.
Respond to mentions.
There are tools available that will allow you to see mentions of your brand. Some will also show you anytime a specified key phrase is mentioned on social media. If you make use of these tools (most cost money, but could definitely be worth it), you can take active steps toward engaging your audience.
If you can identify each time someone mentions your brand or related keywords, then you can reach out to people. One good way to do this would be by posting something like “Looks like you’re in the market for _. We have a lot of expertise in that field. If you’re interested in learning more, check out our website [provide link] or give us a call.” Or alternatively, “Can we get in touch with you and see if we can meet your _ needs?”
Modify depending on platform.
Each social media platform is different and calls for specific types of content. On Twitter, you’ll have to keep it short and sweet, but you can link to longer content on your website. For Facebook and LinkedIn, you can post longer pieces, but don’t forget to make whatever changes are needed to suit the audience. Pinterest and Instagram are primarily image-based, while YouTube is for videos. But don’t forget to include a strong call to action in the description.
As a general rule, you can use the same content across multiple platforms, if applicable, but you will need to make some changes for each. You’ll get the best results by modifying your content to suit the format and the audience.