Lead generation is one of the hardest, and most important, marketing goals, in any medium.
In 2018, 61% of marketers said that generating leads remains their top challenge, with traditional online and offline methods of lead gen often falling short. Cold calling has been dead for a while, search engine marketing is often too expensive for anyone but large brands, and most forms of online advertising are seemingly becoming less and less effective.
Consumers are simply confronted with too much advertising these days, which, unsurprisingly, has lead to them shutting ads out - closing pop-up ads before even looking at them, deleting spam emails and installing AdBlockers among the various courses of response.
Given this, right now, the three main channels for lead generation are email marketing, content marketing, and social media marketing.
In this post, we’ll focus on social media marketing - and more precisely, on social selling. Social selling is a term used to describe direct lead generation through social media. Note, that lead generation can also occur indirectly, as a result of other social media marketing goals (e.g., growing brand awareness, providing great online customer service, etc.). But for this post, we’ll focus on how to generate leads on social media directly, even if you don't put too much effort into other aspects of social media marketing.
Here’re the main techniques:
Find people who are searching for products like yours
Find people who are unhappy with your competition
Connect with micro-influencers
Join niche-related chats
For all of these techniques, you’ll need a social media monitoring tool. Social media monitoring tools enable you to track what’s being said about your chosen keyword(s) on social media networks on real-time, which then enables you to capitalize on opportunities as they arise. Some social media monitoring tools will also cover blogs, forums, and the wider web for mentions.
So how do you use these tactics to generate leads? Here's an overview of each approach.
1. Find people who are searching for a product like yours
People often go looking for a specific product or solution online, and specifically on social networks - and the reasons behind their turning to such platforms for assistance are fairly clear.
First off, there are literally billions of people active on social media. Given the breadth of usage, chances are there will be someone who knows a good product or service, even in the most obscure niche.
Second, online audiences are often perceived to be more trustworthy than other sources of information. In fact, research has shown that social media recommendations are, for many, comparable to a tip from a friend. This is because people forge communities online these days, and the connections they make are often as real and as meaningful as those they make in real life. That's not always the case, but the point here is that people see an equivalent value in online connections, which is important to note, as your business can become part of those same trusted networks.
To do this, the first step is to utilize a quality social media monitoring tool. In your chosen tool, you can then set up an alert for your industry, together with the keywords that signal relevant search intent.
- “Can anyone recommend” + “productivity app”;
- “Looking for” + “productivity app”
- “Need a” + “productivity app”
Around ten phrases like this will be more than enough for you to gather the results, from which you can choose the most relevant ones.
Now that you’ve got the list of potential leads from this process, it’s time to choose what you do next - and this is crucially important.
You have a number of options to consider:
- After finding the mention, you can directly reply offering your product or service. You can explain why your product is relevant, perhaps even offer a discount or a free trial. The important thing here is to ensure your response doesn't look like spam, so take your time crafting a good message.
- You can follow the user in order to develop a connection with them, making them aware of your business, while also, potentially, setting up a future connection.
- You can share a relevant link outlining their options, which also highlights your product, or you can offer advice which may or may not directly reference your business.
For some leads, the buying cycle can be very long. Their search for a product or service might be not urgent or concern a coming event or need. In such cases, it makes sense not to pitch your product straight away, but to look to build a relationship. By connecting with the user, you can help build brand awareness, while you can also weigh in with relevant tips to establish your expertise.
2. Find people who are unhappy with your competition
Another sure way of generating leads is stealing unhappy customers from your competitors.
To find this group of potential customers, you, again, need to set up alerts in your social media monitoring tool. Create similar alerts to those you set up in the first tip above, but add their brand name/s. You can set up alerts for as many competitors as you want, and gather their mentions.
Next, if your tool offers sentiment analysis, sort the mentions you’ve found by sentiment, and look through the negative ones only. Out of these, choose the ones that you’d want to reach out to.
Reaching out to unhappy customers works essentially the same way as connecting with prospects. And in addition to using this process for lead generation, you can also use it for research purposes, learning the key flaws and pain points that your potential customers are experiencing.
3. Work with (micro)-influencers
Influencer marketing has been booming for a while (Google searches for influencer marketing grew 1500% over the last three years), and most of it happens on social media. Influencer marketing is mainly used for boosting brand awareness, however it can be also used for social selling very successfully. If you do it right.
The key to generating leads through influencer marketing is choosing the right influencers. Their audience should be very relevant to your product, and highly engaged, as opposed to just being large. This why targeting micro-influencers is the ultimate goal.
Most paid social media monitoring tools will enable you to generate a list of your influencers and brand advocates. The first ones can be found through monitoring your niche, the second through monitoring your brand. In most cases, you'll be able to sort your influencer lists by the number of followers they have, their engagement rate, and the number of times they mention your keyword. To find micro-influencers, pay less attention to the follower count and more to the other two metrics.
Once you have a list of relevant micro-influencers, it’s time to craft a campaign.
- Target multiple influencers - Your influencers’ audiences are very likely to overlap. This means that when you collaborate with a couple of influencers, your potential customers are being retargeted.
- Be clear on what you want from an influencer - Is it a product review, a blog post, a social media update? Once you specify the type of content, allow the influencer to use their creativity.
- Before reaching out in hope of collaboration, make sure the influencer likes your brand - If they do already, which will be clear from their mentions of your brand, go ahead and reach out. If they don’t know about your brand yet, take some time to build a relationship with the influencer first. Connect with them on social media, let them know you like their work, and maybe offer your product for free (or for a free trial) to get their opinion on it. And only in time, ask about collaboration.
4. Join niche-related chats
The internet is a beautiful place when it comes to finding your kind of people. Whether you’re into the 60’s fashion or futuristic robots, somewhere there will be a chat which discusses it - and as a marketer, your job is to find the chats that involve your niche and join the discussion.
Social media monitoring tools are able to find 'open-to-everyone' discussions on blogs and forums which you can join. Private chats will require you actually joining the communities where your target audience hangs out - and when you do, it won’t take long before you’re invited to Twitter chats and Facebook groups.
For example, my target audience is digital marketers and a full list of best digital marketing Twitter chats exists to make my life easier. With content marketing taking over every niche, you might be in the same situation.
After you’ve found discussions to join, make sure you don't go into full product promotion mode straight away. Sure, you’ll see some people that are obvious leads, but keep calm - you don’t want to freak them out and seem too salesy.
Start a conversation, give out some tips, link to some useful content. And only when the timing is right and the conversation is relevant, mention your product.
Lead generation on social media is an exciting and effective task. Social media discussion enables you find people that don’t have to be sold to - they either need more information (for example, to know that your product exists), or they need a little push to switch brands, try something new, or buy something they needed but weren’t quite sure.
Of course, lead generation on social media isn’t effortless. It requires quality software, time, social skills and authenticity on your part. But it’s definitely worth it, and it remains one of the easiest ways to generate leads.
Hopefully these tips will get you thinking about your own lead gen process.