Social media is without a doubt one of the most effective tools marketers have at their disposal. In fact, the right social media strategy will produce almost double the inbound leads that trade shows, telemarketing, direct mail, or PPC will, according to Hubspot's inbound marketing annual report. But producing such successful results takes practice and expertise, and it's easy to get stuck in a rut of lackluster strategies. That said, here are a just a few tips on how marketers can use social media to generate inbound leads for their business.
Unsurprisingly, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest rank as the primary places to generate leads via social media, according to research by Wishpond. Of these social media giants, Facebook is the number one site to garner leads for B2C marketers, as 77 percent report that they've successfully acquired a customer through the popular social media site. The number of marketers who say Facebook is “critical” or “important” has also grown 83 percent in two years.
Advertising via Facebook is a great way to generate leads from an audience. Promoted posts highlight content in the audience's newsfeed, allowing companies to engage in direct, one-on-one communication with customers. Marketers should use this high-visibility opportunity to not only promote their company, but also to share high-quality, useful content such as ebooks, whitepapers, instructional videos, or blog posts. By providing content with value, marketers have a better chance of not only gaining leads, but also converting those leads to customers. As part of the offer, marketers should include a requisite sign-up form to gain more demographic information about users, and to better enable future personalization.
Contests and promotions
Also, marketers should take full advantage of Facebook's newly-loosened rules on contests and promotions. These relaxed rules make it easier than ever to launch a new promotion – Now marketers simply need to post a status update. Also, fans are now able to 'like' a company's status update without 'liking' the entire page or company, giving marketers greater visibility and more access to potential leads.
In comparison to Facebook, 34 percent of marketers have generated leads – and 20 percent have closed deals – using Twitter. Although that number may pale in comparison to Facebook, keep in mind that Twitter is the fastest-growing social media site in the world. In fact, the number of active users grew approximately 40 percent in 2012.
A Twitter chat is a public conversation built around a unique hashtag on Twitter. These discussions can center on specific topics or special events. Marketers can engage their followers, grow their community, and generate leads by hosting a Twitter chat. Joining in on already-existing Twitter chats within an industry can also help gain visibility with the right people. Here are a few examples of particularly successful – and useful – Twitter chats.
Lead generation cards
In addition to Twitter chats, marketers should also take full advantage of Twitter's lead generation cards. This newly-available feature will allow companies to generate leads directly from a promoted tweet, enabling a simpler and easier way for customers and advertisers to connect.
So far, these cards have proved highly useful in generating leads for companies. Experts are attributing these early signs of success to the fact that consumers don't have to open a new window or leave Twitter to engage with brands. In fact, users don't even have to fill out a form – When a user hits “submit” on a brand's call-to-action, their full name and email address are automatically imported.
Use Hubspot's highly useful, step-by-step guide to get started with Twitter's lead generation cards.
According to the research, LinkedIn is more effective than either Facebook or Twitter when it comes to B2B transactions. In fact, 77 percent of B2B marketers using LinkedIn say they've acquired a customer or client through the site, matching Facebook's effectiveness among B2C professionals.
LinkedIn groups bring together professionals interested in a specific topic or industry. Marketers can find leads by creating their own LinkedIn group or joining an existing one. Next, marketers should begin or participate in a conversation with the group's members. Answering questions from members looking for help, posting relevant content to generate more conversation, and providing useful resources for members will all build credibility, relationships, and – eventually – leads.
The bottom line
Interestingly, the number of B2B marketers actually utilizing LinkedIn doesn't correlate to its level of effectiveness – In fact, only 47 percent of B2B marketers report using LinkedIn, while 90 percent report using Facebook.
This discrepancy underscores the fact that social media research should not be approached from a one-size-fits-all perspective. Rather, different sites are effective for different business niches. When developing a comprehensive social media strategy, a company's consumer demographic and their preferences should be taken into account above all else. Also, once a strategy is underway, marketers should always track the results and learn from their mistakes.
“Marketing is a science. You have to know which social media sites are overperforming and which ones are underperforming. Facebook might not have been your first choice, but it might surprise you. With more than 1 billion users, Facebook advertising is excellent at making personal connections with prospects. On the other hand, Pinterest, Twitter or YouTube might be better for connecting with your target prospects,” says Michael Lieberman, co-founder and president of Square 2 Marketing. “If you don’t track it, you will never know. Once you find out which sites work the best, double down on those and leave the underperforming sites behind.”
… How does your company get leads via social media? Which site(s) do you find to be the most effective? Let us know at @AccoladesPR!
Also, to find even more ways to make social media work for your company, check out these highly useful cheat sheets for social marketing success from Marketo.
IMAGE COURTESY OF WISHPOND