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Social Media and Lead Generation: The Secrets to Success

Submitted by on June 1, 2011 – 6:55 amNo Comment

When it comes to social media and lead generation, good advice is good advice regardless of the size of the business. The experts quoted in this post who have weighed in on the topic are mostly addressing the question of small businesses. While large businesses may have some competitive advantages in terms of how much they can spend on various types of campaigns, I believe the principles for success are really the same.

Which do  you want first, the good news or the bad news? The good news is —using social media for lead generation isn’t rocket science. It’s just plain old common sense. So why, you may ask do people keep asking and re-hashing the same question about whether it works, over and over again?

I think businesses want quick fixes. Easy wins and solutions. They want social media to be their magic cure. Their knight in shining armor. They want social media to speed up the sales cycle. Truth be told, they want social media to eliminate the sales cycle completely.

The bad news is that for all its strengths, social media won’t work magic. It needs a careful foundation just like every other area of the business. It requires procedures and processes. It needs to be worked and reworked. Simply, like any good marketing campaign, social media for lead generation needs to be given a fair chance.

Specific procedures and processes for using social media for lead generation are suggested in the “secrets to success” listed below:

“Hands down, the best way for small businesses to generate leads is with inbound marketing. Creating content about topics that matter to your prospects, optimizing that content for search engines, and sharing that content in social media will enable your target customers to find you. Then, once they’ve landed on your website, using calls-to-action and landing page forms to convert visitors into leads is the best way to start filling up that sales funnel with qualified, quality leads. Simple as that!”
Brian Halligan

“I think there’s a shift in lead generation for small business really as a result of the emergence of social media networks. Small businesses can now effectively compete with larger ones provided their voice is heard. Getting your voice heard in social media (and frankly in search as well) is a three part endeavor and all centered around the keywords that define your products, services and company in general. These three efforts need to combined with other traditional communications, but if done effectively can boost results. (1) Smart SEO – your site needs to be optimized effectively for your keywords. (2) Well written content (blog) using your keywords in the appropriate places. And finally (3) sharing this content in your established social media networks – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or wherever your prospects and customers are gathering for information.”
Chuck Swanson

“To increase lead generation, I strongly suggest that small businesses publish a short, twice monthly newsletter that’s filled with high quality content. This gets them in front of their targeted customers on a regular basis at the same time it demonstrates their expertise. The articles can also be repurposed on the website, ensuring an information-rich portal that builds credibility and demonstrates expertise.
Jill Konrath

Encourage discussion on your Facebook fan page wall, engage regularly in conversation sharing news about your industry and asking great questions, start interacting on fan pages in your industry as your page (vs. your profile).

Key to getting the most leads out of your Facebook page is to make sure you include a mailing list or newsletter signup form on your Facebook fan page. This way, people who are getting excited about your brand can not only like the page, but can also sign up and get more information delivered straight to their inbox.”
Kristi Hines

In her July 2010 post on Mashable, “How To: Use Social Media for Lead Generation,” Erica Swallow made the following recommendations. I checked in with her this week to see what more she might have to add on the topic almost a year later.

“Continuously point users to your content, promote your social presence with social links, monitor conversations about your brand and competitors, respond to customer questions and feedback, and develop your offline skills.”
Erica Swallow

Here’s what Erica says in June 2011:
“Over the past year, social media has become more “social” with technology advances. Facebook’s “Like” button has taken over the web and even Google is attempting, once again, to get more social with its +1 button, which came after the global roll out of social search. More and more, we are looking towards our social networks for validation of the content we consume online.

Besides the times I provided last year in my article about using social media for lead generation, I’d add the following:

Make Sharing Easy: Being available via social media, sharing your own content, monitoring conversations about your brand and responding to consumer feedback are all important actions when it comes to having a fleshed-out social presence. The real power, though, is in all the other people on the Internet. You’re just one person. Alone you may be able to do a lot, but the rest of the web can do so much more. Make your content and products easy and fun to share via social sites. Provide some type of value proposition that entices consumers to share.

Track Everything: So many brands are using social media platforms, but aren’t tracking their achievements. Set goals and use tracking links and social media management tools to measure the success of those goals.

Run Deals & Specials: One of the top reasons that people give for following brands via social media is because they feel they are getting specials deals or information.

Don’t Repeat Yourself: One of the top reasons that consumers unfollow brands on Twitter and Facebook is because the content became too repetitive or boring (or frequent, in regards to Facebook). Mix up your content to ensure that readers aren’t becoming fatigued with your updates. Make sure that you’re posting content that is perceived as valuable information, as well. Otherwise, the fans will start dropping out.

Last year, Walter Adamson, the Founding Partner of the Social Business Consulting Group, based in Palo Alto had commented on Erica Swallow’s post with these suggestions. I contacted him to see if anything has changed in the past year and what he might add now. In July 2010, Walter wrote:

“There is a tactic called “same shopper sales” which states the obvious that a reasonable proportion of your existing customers most likely are easiest to engage for up-selling/cross-selling etc. It seems to be an often missed point in the haze of social media that a small business could start with these customers. The “standard” advice is to set up on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, blog etc, but in one approach, with existing customers, you needn’t do any of that.

You just need to list the places your customers are in the social web and check in systematically. How do you get that? You ask them. How do you organise it? In a spreadsheet if you want. How do you make your time efficient each day in navigating their sites? By discipline. Or use a social media application…Set yourself some goals, visit with discipline, use the tips in the article to start contributing and generating interaction, and you will start generating sales leads. It’s a bottom-up approach, but so is “lead generation” as opposed to “social media strategy”.

In June 2011, Walter adds:
“Things have and haven’t changed, and probably the change isn’t too profound.

We’re talking just about the idea of using the spirit of social media to create leads, as opposed to building a social business or enterprise.

The method I described still holds, and it works for sales individuals if they use that technique.

What we’ve probably learnt is that even if sales people use this technique it’s probably not going to spread. Whereas we used to say to people just “kick off” some social media activity and then see how you can spread the interest across your firm, we now say that if you can’t do it properly with a good strategy and company commitment then don’t start. The reason is that you’ll probably fail – a person or two being active in social media makes no difference to anything except a very small business.

But, for individuals, as opposed to seeing this as the seed of cultural change, the method of recording and then regularly reviewing and contributing and participating with your customers in social media will almost certainly generate extra business.”

What about you? What are your secrets to success for social media and lead generation?

Photo by hapticflapjack

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