When it comes to social media and your business you've probably heard most of it all before; "Do social", "engage", "don't push", but what about lead generation? In this post I am going to assume you are already understand that in order to generate leads you'll need to engage, build trust among your following and ultimately create relationships with existing and potential customers. With that in mind, here are three steps to get you moving on the right track.
1. Find the Proper Social Hang Outs
The first step to in the process is finding where you're going to hangout. In order to get the most out of your social media efforts you need to understand the network demographic and audience before initiating any sort of social media strategy. Twitter and Facebook are great for establishing a presence, but oftentimes you won't find your target demographic on these networks, especially if you are looking for B2B lead generation. Do you research, learn more about the people using the various social networks and what they are engaging with. From there you should have a better insight into where to spend most of your time.
When I first started working on the Plastic Surgery Studios social media strategy we kicked off with the big sites like Facebook and Twitter, but we found that these sites were great for peer engagement, but didn't drive the leads we wanted because our audience wasn't there. We shifted our efforts to LinkedIn and some of its niche specific groups and after building a rapport with some of the users and sharing content that would help them in their business began seeing leads directly from LinkedIn.
Social media monitoring is vital to lead generation. By paying attention to what people are saying about your niche, your brand and your competition you can create quick lead opportunities and future lead opportunities directly from social media source.
Using Q&A sites like Quora, Yahoo Answers, or LinkedIn you can help establish yourself as an expert and begin nurturing relationships that could grow from the initial interaction. If you want to get serious about helping people out you can even subscribe to services like Replyz or inboxQ to get regular updates sent to your inbox.
By monitoring your brand you have the opportunity to reach out to customers who may be asking the general populous about you or your services. By monitoring your brand on social networks you can easily respond and offer to answer any questions they may have about your product or service.
Finally, monitoring your competition can create opportunities for honing in on dis-satisfied customers and creating possible future partnerships. I'll never forget the story Dave Kerpen of Likeable Media told in a webinar about his experience with the Aria and Rio in Vegas. I won't retell it since he finally shared his story on the Likeable blog, but basically he was unhappy with an experience at the Aria and tweeted about it. Shortly after the Rio reached out to him on Twitter, and instead of trying to sell him on a room at their hotel their simply wished him the best on the rest of his stay, "Sorry about the bad experience Dave. Hope the rest of your stay in Vegas goes well." By not selling him and simply sending their regards they wound up earning his business the next time he was in Vegas.
3. Create Soft Conversion Opportunities
The quickest way to get a lead in the door is to create soft conversion opportunities through things like newsletter signups, ebooks, webinars, coupons, contests and the like. Offering up opportunities that collect user information in return for something of value is a great way to potentially turn a soft conversion into a fully qualified lead.
Social media creates a unique landscape when it comes to generating leads since the audience you are working with does not always qualify for going on to the next step in the sales process. Instead of looking at every fan or follower as a possible lead, you need to focus your efforts on identifying your best prospects and doing your part to move them further down the sales funnel.
By finding where your target audience is hanging out, monitoring their needs and acting accordingly and creating a means of collecting soft conversions you will be well on the path to social media lead conversion. Just remember that this is an ongoing process and you may need to engage, interact, and nurture these possible leads before sending them further down the sales funnel.
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