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Social media generates 14% of all sales leads and 13% of all customers, according to the latest research from HubSpot. Facebook and LinkedIn are the most popular channels for acquiring customers; in 2012, 52% of B2B and B2C companies acquired a customer via Facebook and 43% via LinkedIn.
Is your business leveraging the power of social media for sales – or is your business stuck with a handful of “likes” and “followers” but no real change to your bottom line?
When building your business’s social media lead generation strategy, keep these top tips in mind.
Top Tip 1: Track keywords with a social media monitoring tool.
In the professional services business, selling a solution to a problem means that timing is everything. After all, you can’t sell a solution when your leads are happy with the status quo. So how will you know if a prospective lead is “in pain” and needs a solution?
HubSpot’s Social Inbox tracking tool is one way to broadly monitor industry-wide trends while more closely monitoring prospective customers. Set up your social media monitoring tool to track keywords related to industry problems that your business solves.
Top Tip 2: Build relationships.
Social media is best used to build relationships with customers, not bombard would-be clients with marketing messages.
Being an active social media community member means that your business curates and re-shares content created by others that is interesting, informative and original – in addition to sharing your own content marketing.
Use the LinkedIn Group feature to participate in discussions with like-minded professionals and follow up personally with potential leads.
Top Tip 3: Be active on the right networks.
Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and other visual social media networks are today’s trendiest social media networks. That’s no reason, however, to spend hours updating Pinterest if your clients are all active on LinkedIn.
By understanding your clients’ needs and social media preferences, you will be able to better pick one or two channels where your clients are most active (e.g. LinkedIn and Twitter) and focus your efforts there.
Top Tip 4: Create a trustworthy profile.
Despite the very public nature of social media, trust is still a huge factor when it comes to building relationships and generating leads. Some leads will naturally find you by searching LinkedIn or through other contacts’ connections.
When they do, does your profile tell your business’s story and provide a general overview of services – or is it packed with pushy, sales-oriented language? Tell, don’t sell: let referrals and testimonials from happy clients speak for themselves.
Top Tip 5: Encourage interaction.
Are you posting creative, original content on your blog but no one is commenting? Did your latest white paper garner only a handful of downloads? Social media and content marketing go hand-in-hand. While you can’t create a dynamic conversation overnight, you can take steps to get it started.
Tweet a “how-to” teaser tip or post a short excerpt from your blog on Facebook. Ask a question to kick-off the discussion. And be sure to participate in other industry conversations; just like with guest blogging, social media interaction is a two-way street. Post short, insightful comments on other industry Facebook and LinkedIn pages and re-tweet the best posts from followers.
Social media is a great lead generation tool. Before you can generate leads on social media, you need to create a following by sharing content that helps people. Don't just overload your audience with your content, share other people's content that your audience will find useful. Always keep in mind the five magic words: what's in it for me?