Social Selling: How To Use Social Media For Lead Generation
Attracting and retaining customers today is all about giving them more choices for when and how to interact with you. With more engagement channels today than ever, omnichannel communication must be completely integrated into every strategy for customer access.
This is true for all parts of the sales funnel, including lead generation. With about three quarters of the U.S. population now on social media, social selling has become an important part of the mix for generating customer interest and turning that interest into a sale.
Social selling is essentially using social media to identify and build relationships with prospects and customers. When used right, social media can be a place to learn about customer issues, collaborate on business cases, and offer examples of how you have worked with similar companies to solve similar issues. This can all be done from the sofa before some of your peers, who take a more traditional approach, have even walked out their front doors.
Sharing content about yourself, your company and industry is one way to tackle social selling that establishes you as an authority in your field. While it’s important to establish an online voice, it’s just as important to serve up highly relevant content, the more tailored the better. Using one-size-fits all content—the same content across same channels to same audiences—is a common mistake. Consider which content does better on different channels, and adapt accordingly.
Content should serve as a conversation starter. Another common mistake in social selling lead generation is to perform in “broadcast only” mode, or engage in one-sided conversations vs. two-way. Active listening and response can be just as important on social media, if not more, than posting something new. Look for opportunities to provide valuable input on industry forums, message boards and LinkedIn groups. Sometimes engagement can be as simple as asking questions to show your audience that you value their feedback by asking them what they think.
Social media can be a great place not only to accumulate thousands of followers, but also to form professional relationships that can turn into valuable leads. But it’s important to master the basics:
- Think quality over quantity. Don’t tweet more than once per hour, and post no more than 2- 3x/day on LinkedIn or Facebook. Keep a few industry rules of thumb in mind: The 80/20 rule (only 20% self-promoting content and 80% external content), and the 4-1-1 rule (4 pieces of relevant content/day, 1 self-promoting, 1 retweet, 2 – anything not above. These are slightly different ratios, but they prove the same point – that people are more likely to follow you if you have something to say beyond direct marketing content.
- Use but don’t abuse hashtags—no more than two before your link.
- Make sure your tweets are around 120 characters or less so that they can be retweeted without having to edit.
- Master the @mention. Know how to use it for full audience conversations, and how to use it for replies.
- Remember that value really comes when someone clicks on your web site or sends you an email. Make sure your company name, web address, contact info, and links to other social accounts are easy to find from all your profiles.
Today it’s more important than ever to engage with customers on their terms. The potential for social media as a lead generation tool is nearly endless, but it’s important to keep best practices in mind. Remember that the key word is “social.” Beyond just demonstrating your expertise and building your personal brand, the goal is to build strong relationships just as on any other channel.