Social media marketing can result is direct sales, lead generation, social uplift (the number of followers, likes and interactions) and improved authority score (the authority you have as an author in your subject field). As people start to follow you, interact with you and trust your knowledge a stronger relationship will form, giving you the ability to influence them with the introduction of product and service offerings.
Social media lead generation is a long burn and time resource heavy, but it also very cheap, if not completely free in most cases. It’s a great way to generate and nurture leads to help fill your sales pipeline.
Top Tip: Before you consider pushing marketing material at your audience you first have to build a trusted relationship with your potential customer.
Building a trusted relationship with your audience
What would it take for you to trust someone? We’re not talking about with your life here, but within the context of your industry or subject matter you’re interested in. I’ve put together some ideas on how I build a trust profile of a new contact.
Knowledge - Do they produce unique content that is relevant to me and that makes sense?
Experience - What level is this person at, just starting, season veteran or other?
Social Proof - Do they have a social presence, are they well liked, followed and mentioned?
Contactable - Is this person contact details easy to find, do they encourage reach out and engage in topical conversion with peers?
To build trust with your own audience you need to answer these questions about yourself to effectively communicate your trustworthiness.
Here is a great guide on “Ways to build trust with audience” by Georgina El Morshdy over at CoppyBlogger.com.
Lead generation tactics
Now on to the actions you need to adopt. Each social media channel has different ways of presenting its content, essentially though it’s all the same, TwitterChats can been seen the same as LinkedIn Groups - a gathering of people talking about a specific topic, whereas a status update on LinkedIn is the same as doing a Tweet and so on. So the principles of either conversation or reach out / prospecting can be applied to any channel you chose to join.
Whether you tweeting, forum posting, blogging or emailing, you are creating conversation. Joining in on the conversation within your chosen subject matter is a great way to meet industry peers and potential audience members (remember we are trying to build a trusted audience and not an instant conversion), the idea here is to introduce yourself and answer peoples questions as well as proposing subjects of your own that will spark debate and interest. Have an opinion and share content you have found useful around the web, i.e. a download or article someone has written.
Top Tip: Create a spreadsheet (or use your CRM if you have one) with names of people you would like to engage with further to follow up, keep the date you last spoke to them and what you spoke to them about so next time you can ask if they have any further questions or how they got on with it.
Reach out and prospecting
Some people consider reaching out a spammy technique, but I think that's complete BS! You wouldn’t have met your wife or partner if you didn't go up and say hi to them. I am not saying have a cheesy chat up line when you approach someone, but go with something i.e. a guest post idea, question, comment or idea, something of value to the person you are reaching out to that will spark a conversation that can be continued until you reach the trust tipping point where you can be considered a reliable source of knowledge on your subject matter.
Join a Tweet Chat
Tweet chats are a great way to prospect new contacts, nurture existing contacts, voice opinions and improve your authority score. You simply use the hashtags in your tweet to join the conversation and you can use a tool like http://tweetchat.com/ to follow the conversation in real time.
Here is a twitter chat schedule that details times to get on twitter and talk about the subject that interests you.
Insights and opinions on events
This is a little be like a Tweet Chat, but it’s all about feedback while you attend trade shows, conferences and events. Find out the official hashtag for the event and make sure to include it on every tweet you make.You could take photos of exhibition stands you’re interested in, slides in a seminar you want to remember and any meet ups you have with prospects or clients.
After the event why not do a roundup of your experience, post it to your own blog and then tweet a link to it using the events official hashtag. This is a great conversation starter to, “Hey you were at such an event, how did you find it?”.
Top Tip: Ensure you keep a close on eye on any followers at this point and make a note of them for later as they could be a warm lead thats ready to go to the next level.
Engage with LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn groups are a gold mine of prospects and authority building followers. You can zero in on industry specific groups, event groups, networking groups, local groups and so on.
To find groups you are interested in joining, head over to your LinkedIn account, in the search bar at the top click the icon on the left to produce a drop down menu, then select “Groups” from the drop down, then type in your industry, i.e. “Web Design” and finally click the search icon.
You can then use the search filters to find groups your existing contacts are in by using the “Relationship” filter, along with a wide variety of advanced search options (especially if you have a paid for account), such as keywords, company, location, industry sector.
Remember we are not direct marketing here, instead we are audience building, so help people with their questions, spark debate, give advice and share useful content. You may also find people that could refer business and would benefit from a referral deal.
Top Tip: Special attention is required for those people that comment on, or like your posts as they are engaging with you so could be worth following up with and adding to your network if that fit your prospect profile.
Use the iPad App
It seems that within the iPad app you can add as many people to your network as you like without having to enter their email address as confirmation that you know them. I use this a lot to prospect 2nd degree connections, if they accept I then send a little follow up as an introduction and offer them up some links to this blog and to subscribe to our newsletter to get free content that will help them.
There are a ton of tactics you can use on facebook (games, groups, landing pages, facebook stores, etc), but the one we have found most effective for our clients is competitions.
Competitions with promoted ads
Using paid advertising to promote a competition is a great way to get social uplift with targeted likes, shares and comments. In Facebook’s pay per click system you can select geographic, demographic and interests to filter down the adverts reach to your specific audience. Couple this with an advert where they can win something by simply sharing, liking your page and commenting on a post - and you are onto a winner.
I’ve made a small checklist of the basics you need to have in place to ensure your profiles are looking good and kept fresh.
Logo is uploaded to facebook, twitter and linkedin
Completed my profile in full
Added all my existing contacts to my profiles
Added links back to my website and blog
Added the RSS Feed of my blog to the Facebook page
Made my blog auto tweet every time I publish a post
Added the author tag to my blog - https://plus.google.com/authorship
Used AddThis.com on my blog to enable easy sharing of my content
Send my first tweet, facebook status update and linkedin update
There is a place for Social Media in lead generation and a very important one too. The important lesson is not to scatter gun your approach, instead use a structured and planned approach that will build a trusted audience - as that is something money has a hard time buying.