If you’re like most small business owners who use social media, you’re probably still learning the ropes of this relatively new method of marketing, and your attention and energy are largely focused on getting more likes, more fans and more followers. But if these numbers are all you’re counting, you’re missing out on one of the most valuable uses for social media: generating sales leads. Here are three ways to generate more leads with social media.
1. Watch Twitter hashtags. Keep an eye out for relevant conversations about your competitors, the type of product or service you sell, your industry or your business. Jump in and engage with the people involved. For instance, one of my company’s most long-standing client relationships came about after I saw a tweet about their struggles finding and creating good marketing content for their website. I jumped in to learn more about what they were looking for and make a connection that eventually led to a sale.
This tactic can work for consumer-oriented local businesses as well as B2B sales. Watch for hashtags related to your business. For instance, a local clothing boutique could look for local Twitter users tweeting with hashtags like #fashion #style, then send the tweeters a special offer to get them into the store. You can use Twitter Advanced Search to find users in your neighborhood, or check out tools like TwitterLocal or an app like TwitterFon (free).
2. Get active on LinkedIn. For B2B companies, LinkedIn is a no-brainer for generating leads—but many companies fail to make the most of it. Get involved in LinkedIn Groups that your customers and prospects belong to. Be active, but not overbearing, in answering questions and responding to conversations. By doing so, you’ll build a reputation as an expert, which will likely attract prospects to you. You can also watch who’s asking what questions to help determine buyers’ needs and then reach out to them to discuss how your business could solve their problems.
3. Use content marketing. If you’re already posting content on your business website or blog, be sure to post it on social media as well. While all types of content can help attract more traffic to your website or blog, which may result in a new lead, the best type of content for lead generation is offering something in return for the user’s contact information. For example, consider offering a whitepaper, downloadable ebook or online webinar that the user has to register to obtain or attend. Promote this content heavily on social media with links that take users to a form to fill out. For best results, keep the registration form as short as possible, asking for just the bare minimum of information you need to reach out to the lead. (For instance, if you’re going to follow up by phone or email, all you may need is a name, job title, company size and phone number or email. Don’t bother asking for the company’s mailing address.)
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.