Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn are four of the most, if not THE most, popular group of social networks used today. As many of you are already aware, these social networks are not just for personal use; companies use them daily as a part of their marketing efforts. Listen to the thought-leaders in this space such as Chris Brogan, Brian Solis, Seth Godin, Mari Smith (as well as many others I am carelessly omitting) and how they strenuously recommend that social media is not for marketing but for value-add and engagement opportunities.
But in thinking beyond strict marketing and branding efforts, social media is a valuable means to generate leads for your business. Here are 5 ways in which your small business is able use social media as a lead-generator:
Easy to say, but it always starts with people. First, you want to target people who willingly connect and target you. This is the easiest pond to fish from, as this group is already interested. Second, you should look for people who use a similar product/service. Looking at your competitors is a guerrilla marketing technique but one that is able to generate new business (note – in social media, do not be pushy in a guerrilla marketing tactic, since this is the opposite of what individuals expect from social media). Fourth, begin to engage key targets you identified across all social media platforms. This will show that you are interested in them and that you are working to understand what they are seeking. A personal connection will influence a person’s buying decision.
Looking at where your target market goes for meetings or business events is an excellent opportunity to strengthen your footprint in person. People are willing to put conferences they attend on LinkedIn or other events on Facebook and Twitter. Most conferences use a hash tag to for collaboration from all over. Being able to reference or collaborate with conference attendees in this manner is an incredible opportunity to generate leads.
Facebook pages, Twitter lists, LinkedIn groups and YouTube channel favorites are all terrific means to identify new leads. These are all user-created, pre-populated lists that will assist a business in quickly identifying targeted individuals or brands. This could be a systematic approach to see what is important to others and begin to quickly target people of interest.
Crowdsourcing is another excellent means for a business to generate leads. What better way than to directly ask your followers a question and solicit their feedback. A business is then able to immediately use this feedback to help form new strategies. Do not practice this too often, as you never want to come across as a spam machine. But integrating crowdsourcing into a social media/lead generation strategy on an occasional basis can be quite beneficial.
5.) Customer Service/Feedback
Lastly, people are willing to share unsolicited customer service feedback openly on social media. Regardless of whether it was a positive or negative experience, people will talk about it and either recommend or encourage others to avoid a particular brand. As a business, listening to what others are saying about either you or your competitors is critical. This will help you improve and understand what you need to do better to move past your competitors. This will also show you a list of people who will potentially use your product/service.
Social media is not a replacement of your current lead generation tactics, but instead is an excellent add-on to what you are currently involved in. Listen and engage with those you have identified–it will make the first business call that much easier and familiar for your target.
Photo credit to Vectors4Free.com
Keith McIlvaine manages the recruiting social media strategy for a Fortune 500 company and is an avid networker. He is a corporate recruiter, social media advisor, coach, speaker, blogger and an all around fanatic. Connect with Keith on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or on his blog at the HR farmer. (The statements posted on this site are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer)