Yes, in an ideal world our activity on LinkedIn, Facebook, TikTok, Pinterest, and other social media sites would result in a plethora of quality sales leads into our organizations, leading to an exciting set of new customers. Unfortunately, too many companies focus only on lead gen from social media, then become frustrated when the leads don’t flow in from recent posts. What they are missing are the initial core activities that must be taken to build the foundation of a social media strategy. There are four components of this strategy:
- Build Brand Awareness
- Establish a Community of Advocates
- Engage with Followers
- Demonstrate Effective Customer Interactions
Once these four pillars are in place you will have a significantly greater reach for potential leads – and they will see an experience for which they will want to be part of. The investment in these foundational activities will pay off down the road in new sales.
Each component has unique characteristics that must be understood.
1. Build Brand Awareness
Unless you are already a household brand like Microsoft, Coke or Super Cuts, one of the initial goals of social media is to spread the word about your products or services. Engaging with your existing customers and encouraging them to promote you to others is a great first step for this. People naturally depend on their personal network for both B2B and B2C recommendations. Some tactics to consider in order to motivate your customers to promote you include:
- Personal requests: have your front desk staff encourage clients to “like” or “follow” you on various social platforms
- Provide promotions: include specific offers only on social media platforms (e.g., 10% off for Facebook users), which will also lead to people sharing your brand with others
- Website & Email Links: ensure your website and email templates (both for email campaigns and individual signatures) include links to the social platforms to allow your customers to easily follow you
- Solicit Reviews: encourage users to post a review about your business, which has multiple benefits for your brand; offering a small incentive as a token of your appreciation is well worth it in the long run
With Americans spending more than 1,300 hours a year on social media (over 3 hours every day), we must be part of that experience by appearing in their feeds. You must post content regularly that answers the questions your customers are asking, includes links to relevant infographics & articles, and shows off your brand to the world by posting photos of employees, the office, and company events. All of this builds a connection with customers and your core audience in order to increase brand awareness.
2. Establish a Community of Advocatess
Whether you are a B2B or B2C company, you have an opportunity to build a network of followers that will ultimately be the engine for your social media activities. Having individuals “like” your brand on Facebook or “follow” your business on LinkedIn provides the base for the network effect to kick in when you share content on these platforms.
There are many ways to encourage people to become part of your community (whether or not they are already customers), such as:
- Provide incentives to your community members: this could take the form of discounts on products/services or showcasing your social followers. Highlighting the most shared content is a way to further encourage users to share and start conversations on your page. Give back to the members who go beyond in terms of engagement.
- Expand personal relationships with customers: whenever members of your community engage via social media, it is ideal to respond quickly to their posts and questions. The personal touch will build those relationships, make them feel connected to the community, and encourage others to want to join.
- Interact with followers: your social community members will definitely feel special about being part of the bigger picture. Host social conversations that allow them to share their views and opinions about your business.
3. Engage With Followers
In addition to responding to conversations on social media, there are other ways to creatively engage with your community and build the network. Examples of these include:
- Run contests on social media channels: contests are a great way to increase brand awareness and generate social media leads. They also enable participants to share their experiences with your business with friends and colleagues that will create a viral impact.
- Create clickable content: you need compelling content to stimulate interest amongst your community. Since everyone on social media is competing for attention, images need to be sharp and copy even sharper. With click-worthy content, you’ll want to make sure people have a place to click. Wherever possible, make sure each post has a clear link and tempting call-to-action.
- Highlight Your Team: people want to see that you are more than just a brand or logo. By highlighting your team members, you show your followers that you’re a real group of people working hard to make your brand and product special. You can create a series that focuses on each of your team members so your social audience can learn who they are and what they do for the company. Maybe provide a photo of themselves along with some unique information about them (e.g., favorite candy bar).
4. Demonstrate Effective Customer Interactions
The last piece of the puzzle is to show off how well you interact with your customers, both on social media and in real life. We have discussed above the importance of quickly responding to social media posts; however, people also want to understand how you will interact with them if they were a customer. A couple critical activities to do for this are:
Show Off Customer Testimonials
Peer-to-peer recommendations are one of the strongest ways to guide prospects through the funnel. By sharing testimonials on social media you can show your followers how much your customers love you and the products or services that you provide. Be sure to include testimonials for the different types of customers you have so that prospects can relate to their own business. Include images or videos to help bring the story to life and add more pop to the post.
Share Valuable Research, Studies, or Articles Relevant to Them
You understand the decision your customers need to make when choosing whether to purchase your product or service. Put yourself in their shoes and think through the data points they need to make that decision. Share content that is relevant and that your audience will find interesting as well. Include any metrics or data that support the decision-making process.
Once these pillars are in place then your social media posts will begin to drive both awareness and engagement with prospective customers, leading to actual leads in the pipeline. Without them, your posts will continue to fall on deaf ears as there is no social network in place to promote your voice to your prospects.
And since social media marketing continues to be the most effective tactic for improving lead generation quality, it is critical that you get this right!