Mike Hanbery January 2, 2014

How to Generate Sales Leads Using Social Media Marketing

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It’s well documented that most people who connect with companies on social media already do business with those companies. So what methods within social media marketing can be effectively used to generate sales leads and attract new customers?

Get Found: Social Media and SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of marketing Internet content to search engines. Well-optimized web pages have a better chance than their competitors of scoring on the first page of Google, Yahoo or Bing for keyword searches. Social media sharing of website content is an increasingly critical component of SEO.

Businesses can generate sales leads by creating relevant, quality content that gets published on their websites and shared on social media channels.

In 2014, the single most critical social media channel on which to focus is Google+. This is because of the preference the Google search algorithm now shows for content tied to “Authorship.” Individuals who author content, such as blog posts, can link the web domain on which their content is published to their personal Google+ profiles. By this, Google is better able to identify the original content producer and significantly reduce plagiarism and duplicate content on the web. Google rewards participation in its Google+ social network by showing additional preference in search to those Google+ profiles who have the most followers and engagement.

Denver Social Media - Google Authorship

Generating followership and engagement on Google+ is done in the same way as on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and in traditional, face-to-face networking. Show up, listen, offer value when speaking, follow through and do so consistently.

In July of this year, someone who looks exactly like me, and who as I write this is sitting in my chair, said this about Google+:

[Google] can successfully force us to have personal and business pages. We can choose to enjoy the resulting search engine marketing benefits or watch as our competitors do. But they cannot force us to engage in the network. Without that engagement, the behavioral data they seek remains elusive and their end goal unreachable.

Wow, was that guy wrong. Handsome, witty and humble, perhaps, but wrong. And he should have gamed this out and seen it coming. By making reach and engagement within Google+ a criteria—which makes perfect sense—Google has successfully mandated participation in Google+. At least this clown was correct when he said, in the same article, that, “resistance is futile.”

Many companies monitor online conversations for brand defense and sentiment but social media listening also reveals opportunities to generate sales leads. Employing the same approach to generating followership and engagement mentioned earlier, individuals and companies can establish thought leadership through discussions in LinkedIn groups, on Facebook pages, on Twitter, video and image sharing sites such as YouTube and Pinterest, and in comments on mainstream news articles.

Integrating the use of keyword-driven social media listening tools with a sales onboarding process can provide influential access to interested parties early in the decision-making process. Fundamental to this exercise and to all social media optimization (SMO) is diligent and ongoing study, data-driven and intentional approach to keyword selection.

Social Media Advertising
Depending on the product or service, advertising on social media networks is probably the most direct means of attracting new customers using social media marketing.

Facebook’s behavioral and demographic targeting remains the standard-bearer for the industry and a place remains for LinkedIn advertising but 2013 brought innovations to Twitter advertising and YouTube advertising.

Twitter introduced pricing packages with exponentially lower barriers to entry and interesting targeting options. Advertising on the channel can be used to generate click-throughs or follows. It’s about the closest thing businesses will find to a guaranteed result.

YouTube’s 2013 innovations included the use of clickable calls to action using annotations in YouTube videos and the ability to market YouTube videos through Google Adwords. Given the ever-increasing percentage of video content consumed on the Internet and that videos in the paid search results are more eye-catching and occupy more real estate than text ads, we should expect YouTube videos to be seen more broadly and frequently and to become a more amplified component of generating new sales leads.

Contests, sweepstakes and the like on Facebook, Twitter and other Internet social networks provide social media marketers with the magic word (“free”) and thereby integrate seamlessly with social media advertising.

In 2014, brick and mortar businesses such as retail establishments and restaurants will experiment with “solomo” (social/local/mobile) advertising concepts. An example is Geofencing, which enables businesses to use mobile apps such as Foursquare to send timely “push” advertisements to mobile devices within a defined geographic area.

How to use this Information
While social media’s true overarching value is in engaging and improving existing relationships, social media provides some avenues to generate new leads.

By itself, social media minimal results. These tactics are most successful when integrated into an overarching strategic marketing and sales plan.

How is your business using social media to attract new customers?

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