Lots of companies are trying to use social media for lead generation, but too often, they get mediocre results because they’re going about it the wrong way. Social media lead generation is a different medium than traditional advertising, and you can’t expect the same types of “sales pitches” to work.
Here are a few of the biggest mistakes that companies make with their social media lead generation, and how to avoid them:
1. Talking instead of listening.
Social media is a conversation, not a lecture. Too many marketers make the mistake of thinking that social media is just a one-way-street, just another broadcast channel to tell the world about your latest product or other announcements. The truth is that you can use social media for lead generation by listening to what others are saying. Search for relevant keywords on Twitter to hone in on your competitors – you might find a prospect who is complaining about some bad service or a faulty product they purchased and is ripe for the picking. See what people in your industry are “buzzing” about on LinkedIn – this can be an effective way to get business intelligence and uncover new sales opportunities. The Content Marketing Institute found that B2B content marketers believe LinkedIn is the only social media portal with an effectiveness rate of better than 50%.
2. Failing to answer people’s questions.
Every time someone reaches out to you via social media with a question or inquiry, that is an opportunity that needs to be followed up on, just as if they had called you on the phone. Make sure to monitor your social media accounts and respond to questions, inquiries and mentions of your business. Smaller firms find that Twitter is the most effective for generating leads and requires the least amount of time. Checking in a few times a day, learning the best methods for using Twitter Search, and setting predetermined times of the business day for social media interaction will allow you to achieve more one-to-one conversations with customers that you couldn’t possibly have in person or even on the phone – and 50% of these interactions will result in a lead, per CMI. Even if people don’t have a question, if someone pins one of your products to their Pinterest page or posts a nice comment on your company Facebook page, be sure to thank them publicly – and follow up to see if there’s anything else you can do for them.
3. Taking a scattershot approach.
With traditional advertising, the focus was “getting your message in front of as many eyeballs as possible.” With social media lead generation, the focus needs to be on “building trust and making people want to seek you out as an expert in your industry.” With social media, it’s less important to amass large numbers of followers, and more important to have high-quality interactions with the followers that you do have. A few influential followers who will share your articles, spread the word about your business and introduce you to their audiences are more important than simply blasting out social media “spam” to as many people as possible. Take a focused, disciplined approach to building your social media audience and focus on telling a story, since 73% of consumers prefer to be marketed to in this manner.
4. Using too formal of a voice.
Social media is a great lead generation tool for business, but that doesn’t mean you have to sound “businesslike” all the time. Social media is a more casual and conversational form of engagement. Talk to people in a friendly tone, as if you were already on a first-name basis. Trupanion, a pet insurance company, found that by posting short videos to their website they encouraged customers to share their own testimonials on the company’s Facebook page, creating traffic and leads from both their friends and from competitor’s pages who weren’t utilizing rich media content.
5. Giving up too soon.
Social media lead generation can be a powerful long-term asset for your company, because it gives you a list of dedicated followers who care about your business and who listen to what you say and share it with others in addition to time being the only cost. Many small business owners get discouraged when they’ve been “doing social media” for 2 or 3 months and still have “only” a few hundred followers (or less). The key is to make a consistent effort. You don’t have to spend lots of time every day, but you should make social media marketing a regular part of your routine. Keep creating good content (a picture is worth 1000 words, a video is worth 1000 pictures) that can educate your customers about your solutions and how they’re superior to others in the industry. Keep engaging with people. Keep seeking out influential people in your industry who have a bigger following than you do, and look for ways to build relationships with them (such as writing a guest blog post or participating in an online discussion with them on LinkedIn). While 70% of social media marketers feel their marketing wasn’t effective last year, 75% of those same marketers plan to expand the amount of resources they spend on social media in the next 12 months. Nobody has cracked this nut yet, but everyone values the high ceiling that engaging directly with customers can provide.
One of the many exciting opportunities of social media lead generation is that it makes it possible to get sales leads from anywhere, at any time. You can put your business in front of a much wider audience where the audience actively finds you – instead of constantly trying to pursue prospects, you set up a “magnet” that draws sales leads to you. Social media also becomes a long-term asset that your company owns – instead of renting ad space, you have a list of people who have a valuable relationship with your company.
Just remember to keep your social media presence sincere, human and generous. Offer great content, tips and commentary on your industry. Answer people’s questions. Build relationships with prospects and industry colleagues. The best way to get sales leads from social media is to present an inviting, engaging human face for your company – be the kind of person that people want to be with, and in time you’ll attract the audience you deserve.
Al Davidson is the founder of Strategic Sales & Marketing, a “leading light” among lead generation companies, delivering B2B lead generation and appointment setting services for clients ranging from local small businesses to the Fortune 100. Since 1989, the company’s sales agents have generated over 7 million sales leads, and created millions of dollars for clients.
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