There are so many reasons to do social media marketing as an organization. You can use it for branding, thought leadership, customer relations, public relations, and, of course, an enhancement to SEO. But when it comes to lead generation, social often falls flat. Organizations that look at social through a lead-gen lens often feel disappointed when they realize the many hours of social media content development and management they invest in don’t yield the highly measurable ROI they get from other online marketing activities. Worse, once they have built up a community, however small, they feel trapped and obligated to keep the lights on.
Let me first state the obvious and then we will get into lead gen. First, in order to yield ROI from social people you must understand that it is analogous to the entire web. It services many masters and you are not just doing it for one reason like lead gen. You must do it for all the reasons one would use the web as a whole for – branding, thought leadership, customer relations, public relations, enhancement to SEO, and lead generation.
However, this column is about lead generation, so let’s get into that. Here are some tactics that can help add lead generation and actual measurable results into the mix of your social program.
- Find the right balance. Clearly your social program should not be an endless stream of offers and pitches, but you are a business and a few offers and pitches here and there are fine. How many? You have to find that balance, but let’s face it, sometimes you have to ask for the sale if you want it, even in Facebook. So, if you have a compelling offer that you would use in a search ad, banner, or email, echo it in social.
- Create a social content/offer bank. You know all those white papers, guides, checklists, and other materials you have amassed doing search, media, email, and other lead-gen programs? Well, consolidate them, extract the value statements and compelling images from them, and work all of that into your social publishing schedule. You worked hard to create things of value people would want when they saw a banner or search ad, why wouldn’t they want it if they saw it in a tweet, on LinkedIn, or in a Facebook post?
- Use traditional landing pages. This is a big one! We use landing pages for search, email, and online media and all agree they increase conversion rates. But somehow, many marketers have totally left this super weapon of conversion out of their social media mix. They think anything you do in social has to be free and un-gated. Not true – if you are offering something of value it is not going to blow anyone’s mind if you simply ask for their contact info in return.
- Create YouTube/SlideShare landing pages. OK, kind of the same concept as above, but you are blending lead gen with YouTube videos and SlideShare presentations. Let’s say you are promoting a YouTube video or SlideShare – what is the normal thing to do? You link directly to the video or presentation on those sites, right? Well, stop that. What good does that do you? It is great for SlideShare. You are driving traffic to its site! You know that embed code for videos and presentations that lets you put the video or presentation in a blog post or web page? Put it on a landing page that has the content, an offer, and a quick form next to it! The user gets to watch the video or presentation and she doesn’t care where she watches it, and you get to present her with a lead-gen offer. It’s win-win!
- Encourage social sharing. So someone filled out a form and you delivered the white paper or guide to her. Now what? Ask her to share it! Let’s say you do a search and email campaign for a really cool guide and you get 5,000 people to download it from your landing page. If just a fraction of people share it off your landing page and the thank you page that can mushroom into thousands and thousands of impressions and additional leads. Remember – encourage the share! (You can see more on this in my column “Viral Spikes: The Power of the Share.”)
- Encourage direct contact. This is another very often overlooked tactic. Once again the concept of escalating virtual communications to real-world communications is often lost in the social media mix. We simply forget that the one thing we want our prospects and customers to do is to simply talk to us. For many businesses you cannot close a new deal with someone without having a simple conversation. So be sure to make yourself available to your customers, not just via social but via the real world. Create an arsenal of social posts that simply states the value of speaking with you and your experts. Just ask a sales rep – white paper leads do not always equate to a person who actually wants to speak with you. Nothing makes the sale like a good conversation, so tell people the value of having a conversation.
- Don’t forget the phone. This is another hugely overlooked opportunity. Promoting toll-free numbers in TV, radio, print, direct mail, and everywhere else is totally standard, but how often do you see 800 numbers in tweets and Facebook posts? Want to talk to someone right now? Skip the form and go right to the call center! We have found with some clients that half their online leads or sales from search, email, and other channels come in over the phone. So what about social? Have consumers on Facebook suddenly forgotten how to dial? Give people a reason to talk to you and a phone number to reach you on and see what happens! (Oh yeah, and you can track toll-free calls just like you can clicks!)
That’s what I have for you for now. Of course, please free to add your tactics in the comments section below and please share this column!
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