Using social media to directly sell to people and generate leads isn’t easy, no matter what business you’re in. And one of the biggest traps B2Bs can fall into is to use their sales figures alone as the only measure for working out ROI.
The truth is, the single greatest return you should aim to get from your social media activity is relationship building. It’s about reaching the right people, building your audience and achieving genuine engagement.
Further down the road social media may start to play a bigger part in your lead generation but to get to that point you need to keep the basics in mind and to work out a focused strategy.
Think of it like this – if you kick it all off by asking people to sign up for your brand new e-book, it’s just not going to work. You’ve got to build your online reputation first. You need to form a relationship and build trust with your audience before you can then ask them to share their contact details with you.
Yes, ultimately the reason any business will invest its time and money in social media is to increase its sales and the role of social media in B2B buyers’ decision making cannot be underestimated. But to be successful you need to shift your thinking and stop worrying about doing business directly over your social channels.
So, what can you do to ensure you’re getting the most out of your social media?
Here’s our 3 step guide to creating a social media lead generation strategy
1. Attract an audience
Whether it’s a page on Facebook or a Twitter profile, it takes time to build an audience on any social media platform. Some companies may offer you a shortcut and for a price promise to get you thousands of instant followers, but there’s no point having the wrong audience and little guarantee these followers are even real people, so save your money.
So how do you do it? The key is to be interesting and relevant for your target audience. Figuring out what kind of content the people you want to attract will like and where you should be to reach them is the tricky part. It will take some trial and error, which is why you can’t expect results overnight.
Showing your personal side is key to attracting people and keeping your audience engaged. To achieve that, your content needs to be informative, educational and entertaining. Try to avoid going too extreme either way (i.e. having no personality, or far too much). Keep experimenting until you find that golden middle ground.
It’s important to note that the content you share on your social channels doesn’t have to all be made by you. In fact, it’s better to share a mix of your own content and other people’s. Of course, any other content you choose to share still has to be relevant and interesting. Trying to do it all yourself would take up a huge amount of resource, especially if you’re to produce consistently high-quality content – which it’s vital you do.
When you share others’ content you are showing what interests you. Keep that in mind when you choose what to share as every action will say something about you. Also always make sure you recognize the source and add your own comments about the topic, to position yourself as an expert.
Communication is what social media is all about, so you need to be posting regularly. It’s a big responsibility to be the voice of the company, so it’s not a task to simply drop on an intern or office junior. It needs as much importance placing on it as any other marketing channel. Make sure that the person who handles your social channels knows what your company stands for and how you want to present yourself to the outside world.
2. Make sure people can find and understand who you are
Make it very clear who you are and provide as much detailed information as possible on all the social channels you use. The idea is that once people are attracted to your Facebook page, for example after one of their friends shares one of your links, then they might look at your profile to find out who’s behind the post. Check what information you are giving out. Are you saying enough (or too much) about who you are and what you do? Is it in the right tone, jargon-free and clearly written? Is it up-to-date? Will it lead to more engagement down the road?
Always include a link back to your website. If you have promotions running then keep them visible. For B2B buyers, in particular, they may check out your online presence on the more business-focused social platforms like LinkedIn. On those sites, it’s not only important what your company page looks like but also how your employees represent themselves. Make sure they get help and guidance if they need it, to be able to present themselves in the best light and in line with company values and messaging.
3. Add calls to action wherever you can
A lead directly generated through social media is one where an individual has given you their contact details based on something they saw on a social media platform. For example, if you post a link to a landing page for an e-book that can be downloaded and someone follows the link and fills out their details. Your analytics should then tag that lead as coming via that channel. Automated marketing software will be able to do this for you, otherwise, if you’re not using a digital solution, then you may have to do that manually.
Remember it isn’t always possible to trace back all new leads to the exact channel they originated from. Sometimes leads fall into the so-called ‘dark social’ bucket. An example would be if someone sends their friend a link to your landing page in a private message. In those cases, it is impossible at this point to correctly attribute that new lead, so it will be bucketed under direct traffic in your analytics.
In order to increase leads from social media think about where you can include a call to action. Don’t post images without including a link to something on your website and don’t forget to add links to your posts and tweets. On Facebook you now have the opportunity to create lead ads, generating them right inside Facebook without people having to leave the platform. Give it a try and see if it works for you.
When should you post an offer?
An offer could be in the form of an invitation to download an e-book, or to buy your product. Just be wary that if you only post stuff about the products or services you sell, then it will become very boring very quickly, and that will only lead to bad results! The idea is to have lots of non-promo related content and to occasionally drop in an offer. Gary Vaynerchuck explains this well in his book ‘jab jab right hook’ https://www.garyvaynerchuk.com/books/.
What else you need to keep in mind:
When your goal is to generate new leads for your business via social media (vs. just building brand awareness) it is also important to consider the following:
- Your focus needs to be on building relationships
- Know your audience really well
- Use social media to get to know your audience better
- Think about how you can engage your audience
- Think how you will inform, educate and entertain your audience
- Build a direct communication channel with your audience and share any feedback you receive with your broader teams, including product development and customer services
- In the beginning when building your social media presence it is crucial not be a typical boring B2B company, instead think about how you can showcase your company’s DNA, the people that work in your company and the vision you have
- Don’t just copy messages from one platform to the next. All social media channels are different, learn those differences and post accordingly. If you do not have the resources to be present on several than stick to a few and make sure you understand them and do them really well.
- Be social, that means regularly talking, engaging, commenting, complimenting, asking questions and sharing
- Tell the story of your business – that always works on social.
- And have some fun! Show a lighter side to yourself and the company’s personality.
To help you keep track of how you’re doing, we’ve pulled together a list of some of the top social media monitoring tools. And if you’re not sure who should be talking on social sites and taking the lead, check out this blog on why your senior team needs to get socially active.
With all of these tips you should now be well on your way to a strong social media strategy and networking presence. We look forward to engaging with you on our social channels! Be sure to Tweet up or stop by and say hello.