Social media is an essential part of the marketing mix. Even if you’re in B2B. Even if you’re in a “boring” industry. Even if you’re an introvert.
- Social media is becoming as important to customer service as the telephone.
- Social media is indispensable for promoting your content.
- Social media is one of best ways to get leads.
Not sure about that last one? In Ascend2’s 2015 Leads Nurturing Trends Survey, social media holds third place for the most effective online channel for generating leads. That’s clearly not as effective as email, but social holds its ground.
The view gets even better if you look at cost per lead. That’s what Software Advice found when they surveyed 200 B2B marketers late last year:
Those two charts paint a promising picture. Of course, the effectiveness and cost per lead that you see from social media will be different. Your results will depend on your content strategy, how much time you can invest with social media, and which tactics you use.
There are dozens of tactics for getting leads on social media – more than I have space to mention here. Some are more effective than others. The ones mentioned below tend to be the most successful. They’re also easiest to do.
1) Get smart with LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the big kahuna for social media lead generation. There’s a whole book’s worth of things to tell you about how to use it. If you’ve got time, two books I’d recommend for B2Bers would be Josh Turner’s Connect and Melonie Dodaro’s The LinkedIn Code.
If you don’t have that much time, consider reading Act-On’s eBook, 10 Things B2B Companies Should Be Doing on LinkedIn.
No time for even an eBook? Here’s the thumbnail version:
- Include a call to action to download a resource or to follow you online in your company page’s profile description.
- Use showcase pages to spotlight key products or services you offer.
- Hone your search skills for Advanced Search.
- Participate in LinkedIn Groups.
- Make sure you have a solid content marketing strategy – and that your LinkedIn updates reflect that.
- Use LinkedIn Publisher.
- Encourage employees to support your efforts – to be “brand ambassadors”.
- Sync LinkedIn with your CRM and other marketing automation software.
- Want more engagement with your updates? Add more images and videos.
- Add keywords to your profile, especially in the “Specialties” section. Your page will get more views.
2) Participate on Quora and other Q&A sites.
Any time someone asks a B2B-related question, there’s an opportunity for lead generation. So a whole site dedicated to asking and answering questions should be a good place to hang out, right?
Quora is a good place to start. There are thousands of topics and hundreds of thousands of users – it’s a busy place. That means there are plenty of opportunities to demonstrate your expertise. Sites like Yahoo Answers, Reddit, and Stack Exchange are also nice opportunities to help others … and in turn, help yourself.
3) Participate on industry forums.
Quora and other mainstream Q&A sites are good, but some industries and areas of expertise are so specialized that a general business site won’t help you attract many serious buyers. In those cases, industry and association forums shine.
These are the sites where industry insiders often hang out. There’s usually very little sales spam, so it’s an environment where peoples’ “sales blockers” may be lowered a bit. Just don’t come on too strong with a direct sales pitch or you might get banned.
If you’re going after a very sophisticated B2B buyer, or you offer products or services that only a very narrow niche of businesses need, try industry and association forums first. Sometimes conference forums and chat rooms are good, too.
4) Leave thoughtful, positive comments on industry blogs.
This is another twist on “demonstrate your expertise as a way to attract leads”. But blog commenting goes further than just making you look smart. Each comment you leave creates a link back to your site. It’s usually a no-follow link, so it’s not too big a win, but it’s a reasonably safe way to build relevant, quality links. Assuming, of course, that you’re leaving comments only on sites with high authority.
But that’s not all. Commenting on blogs also gets the attention of the author, who is often also an influencer. Commenting on influencers’ blogs and guest posts is one of the best ways to get their attention.
And finally, blog commenting gets leads. It’s especially effective if you share some real-world experience. Don’t name clients specifically, of course. But you could say something like:
“We recently worked with a company in the X industry, and tried one of the techniques you mention in this post. It worked really well for us, but we had to do these things differently….”
That’s a nice way to affirm what the blogger wrote, add a useful insider tip, and demonstrate you know what you’re doing. Not only that, but you’re getting results for your clients. That’s some pretty good advertising.
5) Add an overlay app for your curated social media shares.
As you probably know already, it’s good social media etiquette to share other people’s content – aka “third party content”. And you’re supposed to share it a lot: Some sources recommend sharing 80% third party content, with just 20% of your own stuff.
Occasionally marketers worry about sharing so much third party content. They feel like they’re just sending people away to another site, never to see them again. This is a reasonable concern… but there is a way around it.
Several overlay services, like Snip.ly or Linkis, let you add an overlay to any third party content you share. So if you shared, say, this update:
You’d be brought to this page, where Evernote’s overlay and call to action might tempt you back to their site:
Snip.ly lets you embed an opt-in form to your overlays. You could also promote your newest content marketing asset. You can even run A/B split-tests.
Setting up these overlays will add a step to creating your social media posts. It will take more time. But if you can create an overlay that reliably attracts good leads, the extra step could easily be worth it.
6) Promote “old” content.
Far too many content marketers make this mistake: They publish a big new piece of content, promote it for about a week, and then never share it again.
This is a huge waste of work and resources. Please – it is OK to reshare “old” content. Anything less than six months old is usually recent enough to reshare.
Fortunately, this is super-easy to fix. Just queue up a few months’ worth of shares for every major piece of content you publish. Share each content asset at least once a week.
If you’re worried about boring your audience, mix up the updates. Use different images. Excerpt different parts of the content. But please, don’t let all that great content sit unused gathering digital dust.
7) Use SlideShare
I have a challenge for you, B2Bers: Convert every successful blog post you wrote last year into a SlideShare. You’ll have a terrific way to repurpose your content, a nice way to gain some inbound traffic, and a new lead generation channel.
Just don’t be surprised if it’s a somewhat buggy lead generation channel.
What do I mean by that? Well, SlideShare has changed the setup, costs, and accessibility of their LeadShare program several times. Often they don’t announce or even explain the changes… you just suddenly have a new option in your account. Or suddenly some options are gone.
Even now, there appears to be no information on their site or in the help pages about what they charge per lead. When I set up a new LeadShare campaign while researching this article, the price they named for my leads was “$8.00 per lead – Introductory pricing”. That’s too steep for my budget, but maybe it won’t be for yours.
They’ll also charge you $5 to get started. And as you poke around the support section you’ll find quite a few puzzled LeadShare users.
I really like this platform and their lead generation tools. But SlideShare seems to still be figuring out how they want to execute the LeadShare program.
If that all sounds like too much of a hassle or just too expensive, there is a way to skip it: Just add your own links and calls to action in your SlideShares. Send the traffic to any landing page you want. At least for now, that’s free. Just know that you can’t add links to the first four slides of your SlideShare… at least until the rules change again.
Back to you
Those are just a few of the ways to attract good, affordable leads on social media. There are many more. If you’re using one of the techniques mentioned here, or if you’re using any others, please leave a comment. Tell us how they’re working for you.
If you’d like to learn more about how to use social media to grow your business and generate leads, take a look at Act-On’s free eBook: Likes are Great. Leads are Better. In this eBook you’ll learn six important ways to turn your social media followers into customers.