As you may have already gathered from one of my earlier blog posts on the subject, social media platforms that are properly managed are your business’s best allies in establishing its brand identity and building an online following.
However, one area I didn’t really touch on is lead generation. Here’s a not-so-secret secret: You just know that you’re doing social media for business right if you’re getting more inquiries from potential customers regarding what your brand can offer to help them solve their problems.
Don’t get me wrong, though — this doesn’t mean that you’re outright advertising yourself or your brand. Trust me, people tend to HATE that, and sometimes, even the most well-planned marketing efforts backfire when they’re overdone.
After all, if there’s one thing that social media lead generation and weight loss have in common, it’s that they’re both best done the natural way.
Anyway, here’s the real score: Social media users are active online because they’re looking for experiences and connections. It’s a “safe haven” of sorts, where they are free to make connections with other people (and brands) that they feel warm towards (or a sense of kinship with).
Therefore, it’s not so surprising that nobody likes bullies or wannabes that call attention to themselves — and in this example, it’s the brands that force themselves upon social media users that fit this description.
Luckily, it’s not that hard to act properly online, particularly if you’re a business aiming to persuade more potential customers to get to know your brand better. I’ll take a stab in the dark and say that you’re most likely on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Google+, which makes sense if you were running a B2C business.
(By the way, just in case you’re in the mood for some fun facts about the three platforms I mentioned, go and have fun with this little infographic I put together!)
Here’s a list of some of the best practices I’ve learned about lead generation for B2C businesses via social media. These will help you reach out to your audience (and hopefully get on their good side). You might be surprised, though, as some of these tips and guidelines may sound really, really obvious.
Make it a habit to attach (large) images to posts.
Did you know that Facebook posts with images get 120% more engagement than pictureless (and honestly, rather dull) posts? It’s all about making your posts visually interesting so that your audience would want to click and share it. However, if you’re planning to go small (why would you, though?), then don’t bother — it won’t have the same impact.
Stick to short and sweet social media updates.
You know how Twitter has a 140-character limit? Try to post updates that are even shorter than that. You probably know the drill already: Keep the character count to below 100 characters, especially if you’re posting with an image or a link. Now, Facebook isn’t as strict about the character count, but believe me, you’ll want to keep your status messages shorter, too.
Monitor conversations that are relevant to your brand (and engage in them, too).
This isn’t too hard to do — you just have to pick a couple of keywords that are relevant to your brand, keep track of the instances where they’re mentioned, and see whether it’s an opportunity for you to introduce your brand and share an offer or two with your prospective customer.
Make sure to answer all inquiries promptly.
Ideally, inquiries on Facebook should be answered within 2 hours, while Twitter questions should be addressed in half an hour or less.
Pay attention to what you post (and where you’re posting)!
This doesn’t just mean carefully considering everything you post (read: whether it provides value to your target audience or if it’ll just contribute to the noise); it also means being aware of what you’re posting and, more importantly, which account you’re using.
When you’re using Facebook, Twitter, or pretty much any other form of social media for your brand, it sometimes becomes easy to forget that you’re not on your personal profile. Thus, every so often we see a brand making the unfortunate (and at times, rather hilarious) faux pas of posting opinions not related to the brand or status updates in a very personal or unprofessional tone.
Don’t spam your followers.
Unless it’s very important, limit your posting as you see fit on every social media platform. Take a look at your analytics or insights to find out what is the best amount of time to post. Split test it to find your sweet spot.
Oh, and please remember to make write different copy for each social media platform — I know it’s really tempting to just post exactly the same update on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ at the same time, but think about how your audience would perceive you.
They’re likely to unfollow your other accounts, thinking that all you offer is the same thing across all platforms.
Keep the content coming.
If you’re active on social media, your brand will definitely be heard. You wouldn’t want to just be heard, though — what you should really aim for is to be listened to, and without good content, you won’t be able to establish that you’re an expert worth listening to. That’s why you have to keep creating and sharing content that is relevant, concise, and timely.
Share knowledge or spark interest in a particular subject or field you’re focusing on; basically, make sure that everything you create and share provides value to your audience. Lastly, pay attention to your most popular content, so that you can better understand what made it click with your followers.
Stay abreast of what’s going on.
Stay up-to-date about the latest industry trends by monitoring news sites and posting timely updates that would interest your audience.
Keep your strategy fresh and exciting.
Hold contests, giveaways, or polls to keep things interesting and your audience engaged. Keep your questions smart (or intriguing) to really get people to answer.
Adopt a “carrot and stick” approach.
Come up with all sorts of useful or interesting offers — eBooks, whitepapers, case studies, and the like — but make sure to include a strong call-to-action with a signup form that asks for the potential customer’s name and contact information.
Regardless of whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn, social media platforms have indeed become invaluable tools in marketing. With the right guidance and a solid plan, your brand can maximize the potential of the social media world in attracting customers, increasing conversions, and introducing your brand to a global audience.
Liz Azyan is interested in the ways new kinds of social data and technology introduce challenges and opportunities to society. Get involved with Liz’s latest project here.