You’ve created some powerful buzz.
Your company’s representatives have hundreds of connections on LinkedIn. The number of followers for your LinkedIn company page and Twitter grows every day. And your business’s Facebook page likes are on the rise.
As exciting as it is to see your online presence grow, you may be wondering if all this digital enthusiasm is having any impact on leads and revenues. The reality is that social media isn’t magic. You cannot expect it to do the hard work of lead and demand generation unless you integrate it into your lead generation process.
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To capture a lead, you need to drive your social following to a landing page on your website. There, you can offer valuable content in exchange for information about the individual downloading it. Minimally, you want their name and email address. If your content is incredibly enticing, such as an industry research report, you may also be able to request telephone numbers.
As in face-to-face social interaction, however, there are some preliminaries. If a young man sees an attractive woman at a party, he likely will not be successful in obtaining her phone number if he simply walks up to her and asks for it. They need to engage in conversation and get to know each other first. The same is true on social media.
So, don’t forget the “social” part of social media.
On all the social platforms, you need to share information, offer insights and engage in conversations before attempting to push the relationship further. In this way, you can create a reputation as a thought leader and build trust.
Thought Leadership and Engagement
Here are some specific ideas for social platforms commonly used in B2B marketing.
Let’s assume you’ve optimized your profile and company page on LinkedIn. You’re ready to engage.
With that foundation, you should now share content on your newsfeed. Don’t be self-serving. Make sure you mix your company’s content with curated articles of interest to would-be leads. That way, you’ll come to be seen as a valued resource.
Another excellent way to engage people is to publish your company’s articles on LinkedIn’s publishing platform, Pulse. Posts on Pulse often get a lot more viewership and engagement than those on a company blog. If your connections see and like it, they’ll share it with their connections.
Whether you’re publishing to your newsfeed or on Pulse, make sure your article includes a relevant call to action that directs readers to a landing page where you can offer a white paper, webinar or some other valuable content in exchange for their contact information.
And don’t forget the interaction. Look at your followers’ posts and comment. Say “happy birthday.” Congratulate them on promotions. Act like you would in person. Be social.
Building a following of thousands of people on Twitter is easy. What’s harder, however, is to ensure your followers are the right people. In other words, are they individuals who would fit well in your sales pipeline?
To target the right people, you may want to use a tool, such as Socedo, which enables you to find your audience by using keywords and then engage them with a direct message.
Engage with your followers by commenting on and retweeting their tweets. Also, of course, post content. As with LinkedIn, you should combine your company’s content with other information your audience would find to be useful. I recommend a mix of 80 percent curated content and 20 percent owned content. And, of course, within your own content, you can post links to your landing pages, perhaps once a day.
Facebook follows the same general principles as LinkedIn and Twitter: engage with people; share content, yours and others’. While most of your content should be accessible without sharing contact information, the remainder should require people to fill out a form.
As we’ve shown, the formula for generating leads via social media is relatively straightforward and consistent across platforms. However, what do you do with them when you capture leads? It’s surprising how many B2B companies are treating their social media leads like the black sheep of the family and don’t include them in their sales pipeline.
Businesses need to take them seriously.
First of all, review the information you have gathered. You want to pare down the list to those with whom it’s worth following up. Sorting through the leads may be tricky if all you have is a name and email address. Since many people use Gmail or a home email address for social media, it’s not easy to eliminate individuals just because they are not using a professional email address.
You may need to do some research on LinkedIn and other sources to determine whether a lead fits your customer profile. Sometimes this works, but it’s not easy if someone has a common name like John Smith.
Do your best. Hone down the list as much as possible, then have a telemarketing agent or inside sales rep call them to conduct the initial lead qualification. Ask questions to ensure the individual has the budget, authority, need and urgency to invest in a solution for their problem. If your company sells a sophisticated technological solution, you may then want to forward the leads that make it through this initial screening to your inside sales or technical sales people. They can handle the next level of qualification, making sure the solution will work for the individual’s company.
Having gone through this qualification process, your social media leads should be integrated with all the others. Now they can follow your standard lead management process, giving you a structured methodology for transforming social buzz into leads, sales and revenue.