How Can Social Media be Used as a Lead Generation Channel? ~ curated by Robin Graham (UTS’80)

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Social Media is a very powerful tool that is often underestimated for its potential, mostly because of lack of insight.

Yes, it’s increasingly gaining importance in terms of a medium to impart personality to a brand and facts state that over 80% of businesses are using social media worldwide; but is it acknowledged as one of the best tools to drive sales, the most important aspect of a business? Not really.

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Lead Generation: The Concern

As per the Marketing Survey conducted by Unisfair, the leading name in virtual environments and events, 66% of the businesses’ prime concern is lead generation.

Majority of the businesses who use social media, perceive it to be a medium to brand themselves, gain trust and followers and encourage social sharing. As per unbounce, in UK alone, the number of businesses using social media as a lead generation tool is even less than one third.

Marketers are often observed arguing that lead generation is a medium that helps create and nurture relationships and cannot possibly be used to generate leads but that’s far from being true. Studies reveal that marketers, who have used social media for over a period of three years, have seen their sales volumes grow significantly.

Is Social Media An Effective Lead Generation Channel?

What drives leads? If we ask ourselves this question the answer would unanimously be visits. The number of visitors to a site, the more is the percentage of leads generation and conversion probability.

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As per a B2B Research Report by CallidusCloud, over 30% of the visits to a website were found to be driven in from Social Media. If that’s true, then what’s holding back businesses from winning leads even after their constant endeavours on various social media platforms?

Lauren Blecher on Social Media Examiner states that there are two reasons why most marketers perceive social media to be lacking in terms of ROI, namely:

Performance metrics: There is more to measuring a social media campaign’s performance than just the number of likes or followers it has been able to gather. Analytics is one of the very important tools that should be used to measure a campaign’s performance.

Campaign and company objectives’ alignment: If Leads need to be generated through social media, your campaign needs to be designed in accordance with your business’ lead generation aims and objectives.

With the basics in place, the next question that comes in your mind is how can leads be generated using these platforms? So, read on.

How To Generate Leads Using Social Media?

Choose the proper channels to communicate: As per Stoney deGeyeter, President – Pole Position Marketing “It’s all about research. You have to know who your audience and influencers are before you start trying to target them. This usually means listening before engaging. Once you know who they are, then targeting them is a matter of providing information that is relevant.”

To most, social media is all about Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. But what about Instagram, Tumblr, Pintrest and Google +? Also, it’s not just important to look at all the platforms but also find out which ones work best for your business. Now that can only be possible using observation, analysis and to a certain extent, the ‘trial and error’ method.

Ensure all your actions point towards your content at all times: A mere update is barely enough to be shared.Mashable shares a great example of how Penn Olson, a marketing consultancy and blog is able to gain over 35% of its traffic from social media.

Sarah Chong’s views on this were firm that businesses ought to be supporting their updates with relevant links as this helps cement your views and opinions and comes across as credible information to viewers.

Deploy a user friendly form to track leads: Gating content is a proven method to track and monitor leads to a website. Using a user friendly form a business is not only able to track leads but also renders your content valuable and informative.
For instance, Marketo’s tweet below takes the visitor to an inviting landing page where they need to input their basic info to access the piece of content.

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Clear Call to Action Can Help You Get Good Results: Having a ground-breaking product may not be enough to drive sales and conversions and you can never really know a prospect’s interest level unless you use strong calls-to-action.

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Vinh, the renowned marketing and persuasion expert states that “To create a commitment escalation, until the final close, you should sprinkle your persuasion with several call to actions. This will allow you to understand how far in the persuasion process you are.” Hence, clear Call-to-Action is always a must, in all of a business’ endeavours.

Create conversations: Social Media is a two-way street: Paul Gillen, a renowned B2B Social media Strategist says, “Begin the relationship by asking ‘How can I help?’ instead of ‘What can I sell?’ We are all so inundated with pitches from people and businesses that we’ve never heard of that we screen most of them out as background noise. People want to do business with companies that they know and trust. You have to build trust before making the pitch.”

And it’s not a onetime deal; you have to keep giving your audience a reason to keep coming back and interacting though the use of quality content and the apt mix of strategies. In this context Heidi Cohen once said, “B2B buyers are 70% of the way through the purchase process before they contact you. This means that they’ve done their research and are close to making a decision before you know it. Therefore you must provide the information and make it findable via the variety of options that they choose.”

You also need to be carefully following the conversations happening on these social media forums to step in and pitch for your brand as and when the situation arises. In the Twitter conversation below, Sara Lopez of 8th Continent has been able to strike the chord right! However, you need to be proactive on social platforms to be able to make this happen.

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Use social lead generation tools to amplify your audience: Ever heard of “Twitter Lead Generation Cards” or the Facebook “Salesforce App”? If you haven’t, here’s what they are.

Twitter Lead Generation Cards are promoted tweets that take users to an offer by signing up a form. This form populates the user’s name, Twitter handle and email address and are helpful in tracking leads generated through Twitter promotions. They can be easily downloaded to a spreadsheet or integrated into a business’ CRM.

Facebook also allows for a similar feature. Social Media Examiner explains how leads and conversions obtained through Facebook, can be tracked. Using the Facebook conversion pixel on a campaign can help businesses track leads from this platform. When a visitor tries to access a gated content through an ad on Facebook and signs in by filling out the form, the conversion pixel on the Thank You page captures it as a lead. The leads can then be transferred into an Excel sheet to be used for further associations. The ROI can then be monitored through the analytics page.

Use Google analytics to measure campaign effectiveness and conversions: Integrate campaign tracking and Google Analytics goals along with your social media promotion strategy to effectively track your leads from social media.

Techmagnate offers social media optimization services?

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This can be done best using the URL tagging. PPC Hero explains how URL tagging can be best leveraged to monitor conversions. The figure below shows a snapshot of how the URL tagging page looks.

It’s important to enter the Source, Medium, Content and Name of the Campaign for best results. Once you click on the Generate URL button, it takes you to the tagged URL list which is depicted by the lower snapshot. You can now track your conversions for the campaign using this feature.
Similarly, tagging URLs for your other campaigns will help you compare and analyse which campaigns drove in the maximum leads and which didn’t do so well.

The Inference

As Lauren Blecher of Webmarketing123 put forward, “If you haven’t given social lead generation a shot, your business is missing out on a lucrative marketing channel.”

I bet there are still many who would not be in unison with the fact that social media can be a lead generation tool. But then there are facts and real-time scenarios to prove that it has worked, for many. So why won’t it work for your business?

Have thoughts or opinions to share? How have your social media initiatives fared? Have you been able to measure your ROI thereof? Let me know.

Neha Bawa is the Head of Social Media and Content at Techmagnate. She has a Master’s degree in Interactive Communications from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, U.S.A.

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