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Sales Social Media March 30, 2015

How to Use Social Media to Generate Business Leads

For most businesses that invest in social media marketing, generating leads and increasing sales is their primary objective. Money spent on marketing is supposed to create value for the business, usually in the form of more profits.

Of course, there are many benefits to investing in social media marketing outside of lead generation. Just read my article here for a list of wider business benefits.

But ultimately, the vast majority of business owners would take more money over anything else. That's what they're in business for, right?

So how can social media marketing be leveraged to generate business leads? First, you need to define what a "lead" is to your business.

What Is A Lead To Your Business?

From Investopedia...

A prospective consumer of a product or service that is created when an individual or business shows interest and provides his or her contact information. Businesses gain access to sales leads through advertising, trade shows, direct mailings and other marketing efforts. They can also purchase sales leads from third-party companies. A sales lead is not a sales prospect, meaning that further qualification of the lead is necessary to determine intent and interest.

The one thing to draw from this definition is that data must be captured in order to generate business leads. 

Here are some methods for capturing data and thus, generating business leads:

  • Email opt-in
  • Social media engagement
  • Sales question
  • Recommendation / referral
  • Live chat
  • Direct email enquiry
  • Direct phone enquiry

If you notice, there are two common areas that different types of leads drop into:

  1. Email-based: using an email account to express interest or open up a channel of communication.
  2. Engagement-based: individual responses required for personalised follow up.

How Can Social Media Be Leveraged To Generate Business Leads?

Social media is a channel of marketing and communication. It provides a means to talk to customers and expose your business to prospects. In essence, social media can be used to generate business leads by facilitating engagement practices and email-based communication.

But that's simply too easy to state and not fully understand. So let's jump down the rabbit hole for a minute...

In a business environment where systems and tools are sought to automate the marketing and sales process where necessary, email-based leads are the most straight-forward to generate.

Email-Based Business Leads

In most circumstances, lead capture takes place on a website. There could be a newsletter subscription form, contact form, enquiry form, various lead magnet opt-in forms, or any type of resource that captures email addresses.

There are also features on different social media platforms where email addresses can be collected, without the need to direct traffic to your website. Examples include using custom Facebook page tabs with email forms embedded, and landing pages with email forms promoted through any social network.

That's two important things to consider when devising strategies to generated email-based business leads:

  1. Generate leads directly on social networks (i.e. Internal Facebook pages)
  2. Use social media to generate traffic to lead capture resources elsewhere (i.e. website/landing pages)

Engagement-Based Business Leads

Social media is all about being social. Establishing new relationships and strengthening them through personable discussion is good business practice. It humanises your brand and showcases your business personality.

In terms of using engagement to generate business leads, policies and guidelines can be established to provide structure and clarity on how to engage with social connections.

The image below outlines communication opportunities where some form of structure or dialogue can be pre-planned in advance of such instances.

Social Lead Process Map

Credit: Customer Dialogue Through Social Media - by Peter Dickinson

The sales team is trained on product knowledge and customer service, so the marketing team should be trained on a vital component in social domains, engagement.

Not investing in yourself or your team's communication skills is a big mistake to make while operating in front of a global audience in public domains.

Create Strategies To Generate Business Leads

When developing strategies to generate business leads in social media, you should consider a mix of tactics to widen your lead stream. 

Three different tactical questions you should seek to answer in order to leverage social media to capture leads includes:

  1. How do we leverage social media to generate traffic to lead capture resources?
  2. How do we generate business leads directly on social platforms?
  3. How do we engage effectively to generate leads?

Let's explore a few example lead generation practices...

Generate Traffic Using Twitter

Twitter can be used to generate traffic to conversion resources. Sharing short messages that include a link can direct interested readers to where they can find out more and opt-in to receive additional resources.

The role of social media in this strategy is to build engaged communities of relevant people, while using content to move people into the top of the marketing funnel.

Generate Optins Using Facebook

Facebook can be used to collect email addresses directly inside the platform. Using custom Facebook tabs, email forms can be embedded onto the Facebook page to generate business leads.

The forms can even be synced with your email provider (I recommend MailChimp) so that they are automatically added to your list and sent compelling email sequences to nurture leads towards purchase.

Generate Engagement Using LinkedIn

LinkedIn is made up of working professionals who tend to use the platform for networking and business purposes. This means relevant engagement can be much more qualified than other networks.

To establish engagement, start participating in LinkedIn groups and reaching out to contacts using advanced search features or recommendations. Creating engagement either publicly in group discussions or status updates, or privately via the inbox messaging system, can generate leads for nurturing or sales enquiry.

6 Quick Components to Social Lead Generation

There are some best practice guidelines during lead generation efforts within social media domains. Following these will ensure you maintain social etiquette and create positive customer service and business experiences.

You can leverage social media to generate business leads by:

  1. sharing valuable and useful content
  2. being friendly and actively engaging with your audiences
  3. adding links to your website so users can easily make purchases
  4. using different network features to look for prospects and opportunities
  5. giving clear call-to-actions
  6. solving problems and being helpful

Generating business leads using social media doesn't happen overnight, especially through engagement practices. You should seek to incorporate lead generation into your wider social media and marketing efforts.

Plan Your Lead Generation Strategy

After you have understood what a lead looks like to your business and thought about ways that social media can be leveraged to generate business leads, you should think about how you can plan and implement this into your business practices.

Without micromanaging your social media campaigns, you should still have a structure in place. This will enable you, and others working on your social media efforts, to understand what they need to do and how it will be measured for ongoing analysis and testing.

Everything that consumes investment should be measured but lead generation practices are probably the one area that should be measured and tested the most. Why? Because it is easier to directly attribute CPA (cost per acquisition) metrics to establish how profitable these tactics are alone.

Use Social Media To Generate Leads

If you aren't generating business leads as a result of your social media marketing campaigns, then some adjustments should be made. Sales and lead generation is usually the main business objective of investing in any form of marketing, so even if wider social media benefits can be generated, they're likely going to be much less desirable to business owners and less tangible as a marketer to demonstrate your value.

Q: Have you generated business leads as a result of your social media efforts?

Q: What do you think is the most effective social strategy or tactic at generating leads?

This article originally appeared on the StuartJDavidson blog and has been republished with permission.

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