The use of social media has clearly grown by leaps and bounds in the business world over the past decade. Platforms that were once used simply to display a photo or share an inane thought are now some of the most powerful marketing tools that brands have at their disposal. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and so on, all provide crucial platforms for brands to promote, increase awareness, and interact with their audience and potential customers.
While promotions are easy, selling via social media can often be a bit tricky. Followers and fans are not always indicative of potential leads, so how can companies turn all of those valuable likes into leads? There are obviously different strategies that boil down to a few simple steps or concepts. The below suggestions should help take social platforms from awareness tools to lead generation machines, and in doing so, increase your sales funnel.
Step 1: Analyze Your Networks
If you’ve already been using social media to promote your brand and distribute content, you are already in the game. You should have a fairly good understanding of where your particular audience resides (digitally) and what networks are popular with them. Some brands fair better with Facebook, others with Twitter, and so on. In the best case scenarios, manpower and resources allow as many social platforms as possible to be used, with an emphasis on those that produce the best results. As a brand, you need to find the correct combination of platforms that will work for your particular social strategy. Once you’ve identified them, you then need to determine what amount of time and resources you will allocate to each.
It is important to realize that “selling” or creating lead generation may not necessarily be best suited for the particular platforms that your brand uses most frequently. Sometimes followers won’t be compelled to convert via Facebook, but will be via Twitter. Hence, you need to determine where (which platforms) audiences are most likely to move from likes to leads, and cross reference that list with your most active social channels. This should provide a better idea of the top few social media outlets to focus your sales strategies on.
Step 2: Understand Social Media Leads are Soft Leads, Not Hard Leads
Social media leads are soft leads, not hard leads. It is important to realize this important fact, in order to established a plan to help turn these likes into hard leads. The distinction is important in order to properly customize the nurturing stream. In addition, getting from one type of lead to the other requires different strategies.
Social media followers have not typically indicated any imminent intent to purchase goods or services. Liking a photo or retweeting a status is not a solid indication that the individual is a good potential lead. So remember, many of your social media followers have not taken any action that would portray they may buy. It is your job to provide them the opportunity to take those actions.
Step 3: Nurture Them Differently
Hard leads, having already somehow indicated potential interest in a business relationship as a customer, are typically nurtured with offers such as free trials, consultations, estimates or webinars. These are more time and labor intensive offers (for both the brand and the lead) and therefore are only effective after a labelling a lead as a good potential customer or client. Whereas, contacting someone about providing a demo or consultation after they have liked a Facebook post could be thought of as too much too soon and a huge waste of time. Unless…you qualify your social followers (soft leads) into hard leads.
Clearly, many of these likes and/or followers won't be leads at all, so you do not want to expend resources trying to “convert” leads that have zero interest in ever becoming a customer. However, using lower commitment offer tactics via social media, you can funnel these soft leads into your hard lead nurturing stream.
Free whitepapers or articles, special offer downloads or more information packets are examples of soft lead offers. By making these things available on social media, you will be able to determine which followers will become soft leads, and then hopefully which can become hard leads. Just remember that free offers should still be downloadable and gated, so that you can capture the social follower’s contact information. This is especially important for platforms that do not necessarily utilize or display the follower’s real name, such as Twitter.
Aside from nurturing these soft leads, social media campaigns should be designed in such a way that you are constantly convincing all of these potential leads that they can trust and believe in your brand. Even if they are not potential customers, when followers believe in the brand and are impressed with your company and concepts, they can potentially generate leads.
Step 4: Provide Conversion Opportunities Via Social Media
It’s also important to discuss the execution of these nurturing strategies. People are inherently a bit lazy, especially when it comes to decision making or taking the steps towards purchases. Not to mention in today’s fast paced, immediate gratification, information saturated, digital world, people want to get the information they are looking for as quickly and effortlessly as possible. Do not make them WORK to become your customer.
Make sure to integrate email subscription signups, free downloads, and even purchasing abilities directly in your social media channels. Of course you don’t want to overwhelm your followers, because if your entire social stream is pushing to buy, you will lose followers quite quickly. However, it is important that you make it as easy as possible for followers to purchase or download resources.
Social media also offers a venue for you to provide promotional codes, special deals and sales that potential customers can only find via your social channels. Even better, if you can integrate some sort of social interaction in order to obtain the deal (i.e., “Share this to receive 10% off!”). The exclusivity or time sensitivity can help push followers into potential leads or even customers.
Step 5: Measure the Results
Like any marketing campaign or effort, it is vital that you constantly measure results of your social media lead nurturing campaigns. With data from your previous attempts you will better be able to customize your strategies better and increase overall effectiveness over time.
Measuring results will also allow you to A/B test quite easily. One of the great aspects of social media is there is such an immense amount of variables to potentially change and experiment with, the A/B test combinations are endless. Different post topics, themes, structures, images, timing, and social platforms are just a few of the things you will be able to change and experiment with during your social lead nurturing strategy.
Depending on your industry and brand, social selling may be easy, or very difficult. Either way, it is certainly something that every brand should be pursuing. Social media is far too popular these days for companies to ignore the immense selling power it can offer, in addition to the massive marketing potential it provides. Use these tips to build a lead nurturing base, and with some time, you will have a sound strategy to turn your likes into leads.