In a recent Washington Technology article entitled, "Social Media and Government Contractors: Know Your 4 Pillars", author Mark Hoover identified the following as the 4 pillars:
- Employee engagement
- Team collaboration
- Business agility
- social intranet
Conspicuously missing from this list was anything to do with lead generation or driving sales growth. Many SMB business owners view social media as a superfluous tactic that doesn't produce ROI. We believe precisely the opposite; driving sales growth is the primary reason an SMB company should use a social media marketing process. The article below is an edited excerpt from our eBook, "Closing The Loop: The Ultimate Guide To Integrating Inbound Marketing Into Your Sales Process."
Social Media is changing the way businesses communicate with their prospects and customers. While there are many uses for social media in a business context, this blog article will focus on using social media to generate leads and sales.
Within the context of generating leads with social media, we will look at both the ways companies can use social media to generate leads as well as how individual sales professionals can use social media in their sales efforts.
Use Social Media To Promote Your Content
If youre creating great blog articles and premium content offers, what better way to spread the word than through your social media channels? Its not only a great way to promote your content, but search engines are now using social sharing in their ranking algorithms. Every time your content is shared on social media, Google interprets the share as evidence that youre producing good content. This in turn helps your ranking for those keywords that your blog article or eBook relates to.
Dont overdo it, though youll sound like a life insurance salesman at a cocktail party. A good rule of thumb is to use the 10-4-1 rule. For every 15 social media broadcasts, 10 should be shares other peoples content, 4 should be links to your blog articles and 1 should be a link to a landing page where your premium content offer can be found.
Follow Your Prospects On Their Social Media Channels
Following your prospects Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages is a great way to learn whats important to them and how they like to communicate. Its also a good way to reach out to them to develop or further a relationship. In many cases, the prospect will follow you back and give you the chance to share your social media content with them.
Focus Your Efforts On The Networks Your Prospects Use
As a general rule of thumb, LinkedIn is the best network for B2B marketing a study by HubSpot found that LinkedIn is 277% more effective in generating B2B leads than Twitter or Facebook. Facebook is generally recognized as the best channel for B2C marketing. Promote your content on several social media channels and measure results to see which network is most effective for your business.
B2B Companies And Sales Professionals Should Be Active In LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn groups are an excellent opportunity to position yourself and your company as thought leaders in your industry. Spend 30 minutes a day reviewing industry groups that your prospects frequent answering questions and sharing useful information that helps customers and prospects solve business problems. Scott Engelman, Director of Online Marketing at LinkedIn recommends that B2B marketers join many, be active in a few and run one. Make sure to provide good advice without being salesy or spammy.
Leverage Your Relationships To Spread Your Message
The more eyeballs you can get on your content, the better. To maximize the reach of your content promotion, ask vendors, customers, industry groups and other business connections to spread your content through their social media channels. It helps you with Google and provides a third-party endorsement for your content.
While social media is a great tool for communication and collaboration, we recommend that SMB companies use social media to generate leads and customers. Here's a summary of how to grow your business with social media:
- Use social media to promote your content offers. A good rule of thumb is to use the 10-4-1 rule: for every 15 social media broadcasts, 10 should be other peoples content, 4 should be links to your blog posts.
- Follow your prospects social media channels. Learn whats important to them and start a conversation with them through social media.
- Focus your efforts on the social media networks that your prospects use. LinkedIn is generally best for B2B and Facebook is generally best for B2C. Measure your efforts to see which works best for you.
- B2B sales professionals should be active in LinkedIn groups that their prospects use, answering questions and sharing useful information.
- Leverage relationships with vendors, partners and customers to share your content through their social media channels.
If you practice these recommendations regularly, you will generate sales conversations through social media that you wouldn't engage in otherwise. Rest assured, social media is a great way for SMB companies to generate leads.