HOW TO GENERATE LEADS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
The key to success when it comes to generating leads through social media? It's not just about posting content. In fact, the most successful businesses are those that focus on combining three things: (i) growing their accounts with an audience of prospects, (ii) gaining the trust of that audience by being consistent in their posts and (iii) experimenting with how they convert this audience into genuine leads for their business.
In this blog we'll give you a quick run through of how this works and help you transform your social media from something that's a massive time suck with minimal return, to something you can invest in and scale knowing it produces results. Ready?
WHY POSTING CONTENT ALONE DOESN'T WORK
The problem with posting alone is that this is never going to bring you any significant volume of leads. According to stats we sourced from using Quuu (a company which syndicates great content to use in your social media feeds), the average post on social media only generates 1-2 website clicks.
Now if you do the maths, that means that you might generate a couple of hundred monthly visitors to your website through what you post on social media - and that's if you're consistently posting AND involving your employees in resharing and posting content too, PLUS winning over others in your market to share your content too.
The bottom line is this - a couple of hundred additional monthly website visitors is incredibly unlikely to result in any sales leads being generated. So if your social media efforts are all focused on posting then you're highly unlikely to see any leads or results.
INSTEAD TURN YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA EFFORTS INTO A REPEATABLE PROCESS
The most successful companies make it a priority to figure out how they can grow their social media audience (with a focus on their ideal prospects), then how they can gain the trust of that audience by consistently demonstrating their sector expertise through what they post; and lastly, experimenting to figure out how they can consistently convert a portion of this audience to become more tangible leads for their business.
If you do this then you should get to a situation where you know that each quarter your audience grows by let's say 500 of your ideal prospects. Then having gained their trust and used proven tactics to convert them, you know that say 10% of this new audience will convert into tangible leads. So every quarter your social media is bringing you 50 genuine leads for your business. Which in high value businesses like professional services is a major jump in leads and enquiries for any small or medium sized business.
Now for 99% of you reading this, I'm quite sure that that kind of outcome sounds far-fetched and certainly nothing like what you are used to your social media bringing you, right?!
Well that's OK! If you're not getting leads then don't worry, you're not unusual! But this is an indicator that the social media strategy you've had to date isn't the right one to continue pursuing.
GROWING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS
So let's look at these elements of a successful strategy, starting with Growth. On each social media site there are a variety of things you can do to get your profiles seen by more of your ideal prospects - and to entice them to follow or connect with you.
For example on LinkedIn you can proactively connect with your ideal prospects, run viral events that reach huge audiences and focus on the types of posts that the algorithm is rewarding (which changes over time so you've got to keep your finger on the pulse here).
Note though that Company pages can never hope to capture the audience attention of individuals' profiles. That's why businesses need to employ a two-sided strategy: first and foremost, be active as a team on your individual LinkedIn accounts - connecting, commenting and engaging with others; whilst still putting some effort into marketing the company profile as what's done on this page could still impact your prospects' perceptions of your company.
Turning to Twitter, there's a whole host of things you can do to get both individuals' and company profiles seen by your ideal prospects. Liking, commenting on or retweeting other people's tweets will result in them seeing notifications from Twitter that are likely to prompt them to look at your profile and potentially follow you.
Similarly, mentioning other people in your tweets, proactively following them or adding them to twitter lists will all bring your Twitter profile to their attention. Each of these activities is repeatable and scalable - and can also be delegated to others in the business (or even outsourced). So doing these things is not dependent on the available hours of the business owner.
What is hopefully becoming clear here is that there are known and proven activities that your team could be undertaking regularly on social media that will consistently grow your audience in a relatively predictable fashion. But doing so requires both time and knowledge, plus the resolve that this is how you are going to approach social media going forwards - rather than continuing with the "post and hope" approach that's likely been adopted to date.
POSITIONING YOURSELF AS A TRUSTED EXPERT
So we've looked at growth. What about Gaining Trust? Well there's a big difference between posting content for the sake of visibility and posting content to position yourself as a trusted expert in your field. The latter is what is ultimately going to allow you to generate leads from social media and so is what you should be focusing on doing.
The best way to do this is by demonstrating expertise and offering insights into your industry that others don't have access to. That means no more posts where you simply promote yourself and your services - instead, you should be giving away valuable information that showcases your expertise.
For example you could:
1) Share an exclusive tip on social media: "I've found a new tool that helps businesses in the XYZ sector to achieve ABC. This works particularly well if you focus on using it to..."
2) Create something of value like a report and post it in the way that will be best rewarded by the social media algorithms (eg. as a PDF on LinkedIn at the time of writing)
3) Open up about something that's happened in your working week that helps convey your expertise: "I had a really interesting client meeting this week and thought the lessons learnt could be helpful to many of you here. They've been trying to address the challenge of XYZ and we talked about several ways this could be addressed including AB & C."
The other thing that can help with building social proof around your expertise is to involve others from your industry in the conversation. So try to post in a way that sees you comment on the findings of others, or add additional insights to their work - but in a way that elevates them and makes them want to take part in the conversation. By doing so, you'll likely start to be seen by the audiences of those other industry experts and therefore have your credibility further extended.
CONVERTING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIENCE INTO GENUINE LEADS
So you've got better at growth and have improved your approach to gaining trust. Now you need to Convert. So how do we do that? Well one of the biggest mistakes that small businesses make on social media is passively waiting for their social media audience to take action.
"If enough of the right people see our business, it's surely only a matter of time until the calls start coming in..."
Or with companies that are trying to drive conversions, we often see companies deluding themselves that they are proactively trying to convert their audience to take action through what they post. This often translates into small businesses posting offers or including calls to action in their posts that they hope will prompt people to do something that turns them into a real prospect.
However, the reality is that relying on being seen by lots of your ideal prospects - and hoping that the phone will start ringing or enquiries will start flooding in through the website - well that is going to be a painfully slow way of ever seeing any results from your social media efforts.
Instead, small businesses should be experimenting with things that prompt people to take desired actions at scale and in a way that's measurable and can be tweaked and perfected over time. That could be through messaging, through advertising campaigns, through running competitions, through sending event invites, through creating polls...
Now by hiring a social media manager into your business who's expert in your field, or by engaging an agency that's got a track record in your sector, you should be able to fast-track the process of experimenting and establishing what works best in your business. Or if that's not possible, at least try to get some coaching on what works so that your team isn't starting completely from scratch.
Do this well though and over the coming year you should be able to transform your social media from producing little in the way of results to producing consistent, predictable and scalable outcomes that directly contribute to your business success.
THREE FINAL THOUGHTS ON LEAD GENERATION / SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS
Doing the three things highlighted in this blog will really help small business owners to turn things around and start generating leads on social media. Think about it - one of the most common traits of successful business people is that they learn from others who've succeeded and then apply what's worked for them to their own business and sector.
Social media is no different.
If you are pursuing a strategy that's unproven and where you're learning as you go along, then the chances of that approach producing results and generating leads quickly are incredibly small. Indeed whether you'll ever get to the point of this happening is open to debate.
Whereas if you piggy back off the successes and experiences of others, then the chances of your strategy working are far greater. For anyone selling high-value services or products, this approach of GROW | GAIN TRUST | CONVERT is proven and will greatly boost your chances of success.
Another thing I ought to comment on is execution.
Just as a bad strategy is doomed to failure, no matter how well it is executed... similarly a proven strategy can still produce disappointing results if the team executing this simply don't have the time or the expertise to implement it effectively.
As you think about how you're going to transform your social media strategy, also give some thought to who you are going to entrust to execute your strategy. If you conclude that a social media expert is needed, then we'd be delighted to have a conversation about how we could help. But equally, if you decide that doing your social media in-house is a priority, do be sure to give your team adequate time to produce results and enough support to ensure they don't fall short simply through a lack of expertise.
Lastly, let me say a few words about timescales for getting results. Most small businesses need to see results reasonably quickly - and indeed that's with any kind of marketing they are investing in, not just social media marketing.
For me, this is hands down the reason why small business owners should invest in social media as a higher priority than most other marketing initiatives. Why? Because with the right strategy and execution, it is is perfectly plausible to see initial results flowing through within months of starting to invest.
This is something that I see time and time again as a real barrier to small business owners investing what they ought to in other forms of marketing.
If we compare with investing to get yourself onto page 1 of Google search results (SEO), for example. There are so many obstacles and pre-conditions to this being achieveable - and even when it can be achieved the timescales for success are measured in quarters or years rather than months:
Is your website properly designed and coded (if not, a complete website redesign will be needed - and at the very least, months of tinkering by your web designer will be needed to address all the issues that Google doesn't like)
How old is your website domain and how many reputable websites already link to it (it's much harder to rank a web URL that's either new or that isn't linked to by lots of other sites already)
Have you got lots of lengthy content on your site (the length of this blog as a minimum) that's oriented towards your most important keywords? If not you'll have to have lots of that created to get the results from Google that you're looking for, it's pretty much a pre-requisite for success
Is your website server fast enough - and has your site been optimised for both mobile devices and desktop? Site speed and device cross-compatibility are both key influencers of whether you could ever be ranked on page 1
I digress a little, but this is the perfect example of an idea that sounds wonderful to small business owners ("getting your site onto Page 1 of Google") actually being a mammoth task and one that there is only a modest probability of ever being achieved. What's more, it will take many many many months of significant expense to even give your business a shot at successfully generating leads this way. By comparison, lead generation through social media is far less costly to achieve and doesn't have anything like the same preconditions that are needed with many other forms of marketing. So it ought to be top of every small business owner's priority list to get to grips with. Will you be prioritising it having understood the above?
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