If you want to find new potential customers, you need to go to where the people are. And, fortunately or unfortunately—depending on how up-to-speed on current trends your company is—all of the people seem to be on social media sites. Hey, the statistics don’t lie: Facebook users spend on average 6.35 hours a month on the site via desktop computers.
Of course, that’s not to say that the world’s most popular social network doesn’t have its share of mobile users as well; as of July 2013, 189 million Facebook users only accessed the site via mobile devices. Twitter had 260 million active users as of this last January, with 5,700 “tweets” occurring every second. And, lest you imagine that everyone on the web is split between these two camps, understand that not only do many users actively participate in social media across multiple platforms, but that there are several other social media sites (Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.) with millions of followers who are just as invested and active as any on Facebook or Twitter.
So, yes, it’s safe to say that social media is currently the place to be. However, just knowing where to find customers is only the very first step in an ongoing journey. Marketers who decide to use social networking sites to help them locate leads may find themselves at a loss as to how to actually go about doing it. But don’t worry, that’s what we’re here for. Here are five tips to help you generate sales leads through the magic of social media.
1. Have a social media presence
Some companies may think that all they have to do is sign up with Facebook or Twitter, and the fans and followers will just come rolling in. And while we appreciate that kind of childlike optimism, the truth is that no one on the social-internet is going to take note of a company that never makes any effort to connect. Be sure to set up accounts on all of the major social networks, and once you’ve taken that first pre-step, that’s when you need to roll up your sleeves (figuratively speaking). Regular posting of content, and continuous interaction with other social media users, will put you on the right path to utilizing social networking to further your business.
2. Be a human
One of the most obvious components of social media is its socialness. After all, people don’t sign up for accounts so that they can more easily be advertised to; they join so that they can connect with other interesting human beings from across the world. So, if you want to be accepted as one of their own, you need to be a human being too. This may be a bit more difficult than you originally anticipate. Start by making a pledge to yourself never to treat your social networks as mailing lists. Ads and commercials belong in magazines and on television. Instead, look for ways to start engaging conversation, and don’t be afraid to let your own voice come through in your posts. Oh, and when you get comments, for the love of Pete, respond to them.
3. Give them what they want
You already know what you want from your prospective customers: You want them to become actual customers. But stop and ask yourself, what is it that those possible leads want? Why would they even consider visiting your page, or becoming one of your fans/followers if they aren’t getting anything out of the deal? This is the heart of inbound marketing, and if you can figure out how to give your customers what they want, then you won’t have to worry about trying to find them—they’ll find you. Provide interesting, entertaining, and informative content, and don’t ask for anything in return. Consider starting a company blog through which you address issues that are common to your consumer base, and linking back to it through your social media pages. Don’t forget to use visual aspect as well. The human brain is much better at processing images than it is at processing text, so play to that strength through memes, infographics, and videos.
4. Work in conjunction with CRM and sales
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is an absolute must for modern businesses who want to make sure that those who keep them in business stay happy. By keeping track of minute-yet-important details, appointments, and other pertinent customer information, and by making that information accessible across multiple platforms and company levels. So, when you’re using social media in your sales process to prospect leads, don’t keep your sales team in the dark. Gather information as you go, and have your CRM system analyze and share that information with the others in the company who rely upon it. Working in conjunction, you’ll be able to get more success out of the information you gather, and you won’t have to rely solely on your own social media charm.
5. Bribe them
Hey, when all else fails, there’s nothing wrong with greasing the wheels a little bit. If you really want likes, shares, upvotes, followers, or whatever it is that designates approval or interest on a particular social media platform, then there’s really no quicker way to get them than through bribery. Of course, you’re not going to call it bribery; you’re going to call it a contest. Create a sweepstakes that requires a like or a share as the entrance fee, and you’ll see the internet fall all over itself to be a part of it. Just make sure that you keep everything on the up and up. There are certain laws governing how online contests need to be administered, and if you don’t keep things above-board, your company could end up paying the price.