Social media CAN be used effectively for lead generation, but it takes time and effort before it yields consistent results. If you are patient and stick with it, inbound leads from social media are a welcome nice top-up to marketing programs.
Here are 5 tips to get the most out of social media lead generation.
Social listening to identify prospects
One tactic that often gets overlooked is social listening. Social media is more than just posting content to a platform, it’s about listening to what’s being said as well. Here’s how social listening works:
- Choose keywords (topics) that are relevant to your business
- Track and monitor either the keywords themselves or their associated hashtag (ie: #hcmktg or #HITMC for healthcare marketing)
- Analyze who is posting and responding, those are potential prospects or influencers that may refer you to a prospect
Once you have identified a prospect or influencer, you can then work to establish an online relationship with them. This usually means posting valuable content in the same places, asking these people good questions directly, consistently liking/resharing their posts and finding ways to meet them in-person (safely of course).
Social listening is what I did for the first 18months I used Twitter. I used Tweetdeck to monitor 10 healthcare hashtags and over time I learned who the active influencers were. Eventually I started to interact with them which lead to in-person meetings at conferences and eventually to full-on friendships.
Social listening works.
Following people you want to do business with
When you have identified someone specific that you would like to do business with – through social listening or by any other means – following them on a social platform can be an effective way to start establishing a relationship.
On LinkedIn, it’s easy to follow someone. Just click the More… button and choose the “+ Follow” option.
Now whenever that person creates, shares or likes a post, you will be notified. By analyzing that person’s activity you will get a sense of the topics they are passionate about. If you are really lucky you may even learn the healthcare conferences that they like to attend since many conference apps create posts that go automatically to an attendee’s LinkedIn profile.
After following someone for a while, you will be able to send much more personalized message vs the generic “We know people in common and I would love to connect with you” message.
Paid Social Ads
If you are under pressure to produce results from social media, paid social ads on LinkedIn and Facebook are one of the few quick-hit ways to generate leads.
LinkedIn and Facebook ads work very similar to paid search ads on Google, but instead of tying your ad to keywords, the ads appear only to people who fit a specific profile. Want your ad to only be shown to CEOs at hospitals in the Chicago area? LinkedIn can do that. Only want your special offer of a chance to win a trip to Nashville to be shown to people who work in healthcare communications who love country music? Facebook can do that.
When you have a compelling offer, the hyper-targeting capabilities of social media platforms are effective at delivering that offer to specific user profiles.
Here is an example of a Hubspot ad that appeared in my LinkedIn a few months ago, that I am sure was targeted based on the marketing titles I have in my profile.
Sharing useful content
The most common way to use social media is as a medium to share valuable content – articles, videos, podcasts, studies and surveys. This is an effective way to generate early-stage marketing qualified leads (MQLs).
The great news is that you don’t have to pay for a social ad in order to share content. You can just create a post. Even better, on LinkedIn, you have the option to have your post only appear to people who match a particular profile. This means, for example, that you can have your content only appear to CIOs at payer organizations in the Northeastern US.
Surveys, whitepapers and other gated content can generate a lot of clicks if the topic resonates with your target audience.
Host an event
Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter all have the capability for you to host a live event on their platforms. These are akin to a webinar and are a great way to generate registrations.
As with any form of content, the key to success is choosing a topic that resonates with your audience. Of course a recognized speaker also helps.
One thing to keep in mind, with social media events, bandwidth can be an issues at certain times of the day (ie: lunch time on the East Coast), so you might want to schedule your event at an earlier/later time so you don’t run into buffering issues.
Adopt a long-term mindset
Using social media for lead generation requires patience and effort. There are few shortcuts. Because of this, you need to adopt a long-term mindset when it comes to using social platforms for lead generation. Be patient. If you go in expecting immediate results, you will likely to make decisions that waste precious marketing resources.