How to master the art of social media for lead generation

By HGB , Nov 21 2015
Love it or hate it, social media is the new means of communication. And it has become an integral part of business.

Social media allows you to interact with customers in real time; promote your products, services and offers; encourage users to share, thus extending your reach almost beyond your control; and establish real brand presence.

However, like everything in business you’ve got to do it well for it to be effective. We take a look at the seven most popular social media channels and how you can master the art of social interaction on each for lead generation.

1. Blogs

Having a blog on your website is a great way to showcase your business or organisation in-depth. Of all the social media channels, blogs are the ones where you have the space and word count to really delve into issues, give your customers insight into who you are and what you’re offering, and promote your expertise in an informative and carefully constructed way.

The best type of blog post is: one that adds value to your reader/customer. It informs them, educates them and leaves them with a feeling that you certainly know what you’re talking about. This will have them coming back for more and with a call-to-action that invites them to be the first to receive your blogs, you’re well on your way to capturing a lead.

3 top tips for blogging:

  • Blog regularly to keep a fresh flow of content available to readers. If you continue to provide them with interesting content, you’re likely to be their first point of call in the future.
  • Hunt out any bloggers or wannabe bloggers in your organisation. You don’t have to have just the one blogger. In fact, different authors contributing different posts, adds great variety to your blog and showcases the range of services and expertise you have in-house.
  • Don’t just post to your own blog. Offer to be a guest blogger on relevant sites. This will help extend your reach and widen your audience, thus resulting in more leads.

2. Facebook

Facebook is an interesting beast, but it’s also a powerful one. The Facebook formula has certainly worked and the powers that be behind this social media channel are constantly updating, improving and leading the way when it comes to social interaction. Although Facebook was once predominantly used by private individuals, nowadays, most businesses will have a Facebook account – and for good reason.

The best type of Facebook post is: one that encourages interaction and sharing. Facebook posts allow you to have fun, while at the same time promoting your brand. The two can certainly go hand-in-hand. Use your posts to drive visitors to your website or blog, directing them to a landing page where they can sign up for a product or offer.

3 top tips for Facebook:

  • Use images and videos in your post. Facebook is a very visual social channel and it’s widely known that having an image, particularly one of a person, is more effective at getting a user’s attention, than posts that don’t.
  • Don’t overload your Facebook feed with too many posts. One a day is more than enough. Any more and you risk spamming and annoying your follows and prospective customers.
  • Post a variety of updates. A content calendar is a great way to ensure you’re posting about things happening in your organisation, relevant things in your industry and general goings on in society, such as a Rugby World Cup final!

3. Twitter

We all dream of being able to meet our idol, whether that be an artist, a sports person, or a successful entrepreneur. Twitter enables you to do that. This social media channel has well and truly opened the doors of communication, providing you with the means to ‘touch base’ with influencers around the globe. It also means prospective leads can touch base with you.

The best type of tweet is: one that other Twitter users want to retweet, as this extends your reach to their followers. You’ve only got 140 characters to use so your tweet needs to have impact and leave your followers – and others – wanting more. Make your tweets exciting, enticing and engaging. This combination will help to ensure followers become leads.

3 top tips for Twitter:

  • Don’t use up all 140 characters. Allow a bit of space for others to include a comment of their own when retweeting your post.
  • Make use of #hashtags as this enable others to find you. It also helps you to tweet on hot topics that are trending, allowing you to get your name out there by contributing to a current conversation.
  • Be consistent. Identify the purpose of your Twitter account and keep to that theme. This will help to enhance your brand and reputation in relation to what you post. Don’t try and please everyone, just be yourself, or in this case, your business.

4. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the ultimate social media site for professional networking. Users establish profiles that showcase their education, work history, skills and employability, connecting with others for the purpose of doing business. But LinkedIn is also a valuable tool for lead generation. Connecting with people and contributing to groups, while at the same time posting informative updates, interesting articles and blogposts, will help to not only establish your profile but the profile of your organisation, as people will be intrigued to see where you work and what you’re offering.

The best type of LinkedIn update is: one that is relevant to who you are, the industry you work in, and your connections. People are on LinkedIn for professional reasons, they want to enhance their professional network and their professional development, so status updates that incorporate industry insights for example, will certainly hit the spot and garner you valuable leads.

3 top tips for LinkedIn:

  • Join a group. By contributing to a group of likeminded professionals you are helping to develop your own reputation and that of your organisation. It’s promoting your expertise (providing your contributions are useful!) and encouraging others to follow you.
  • Be proactive. LinkedIn is a networking site so treat it as one. Introduce yourself to those whom you think you could form a beneficial relationship with and offer them value. Ensure they have as much to gain from the connection as you do.
  • Optimize your profile. Just as you optimise your website or blog content with searched for keywords, do the same with your LinkedIn profile. This will mean your profile pops up when people are searching for relevant terms and that in turn could generate leads.

5. Instagram

Possibly best known for rich kids posting pics of their luxury lifestyles, Instagram has quickly emerged on the social media circuit as the channel to not only watch but to get involved with. This is particularly so with the latest forecast from eMarketer stating that in 2016 the number of companies using the photo sharing channel will nearly double*. What’s more, the market research company predicts Instagram users will surpass Twitter users by 2017.

The best type of Instagram post is: an image that is instantly recognisable as your brand. Just as you’d create a content strategy for all the other social media channels you interact on, the same is required for Instagram. This will ensure you maintain a consistent theme in each of your posts, showcasing and building your brand and reputation.

3 top tips for Instagram:

  • Follow your competitors. You know the saying, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Well, keep abreast of what your competitors are posting on Instagram and what others in your industry are doing.
  • Use popular hashtags. These are perhaps the most important element to each of your posts. Hashtags are how people will find you, or in other words, how leads are generated.
  • Interact with other users. Social media channels are all about communication and Instagram is no different. Comment on other users images, like their posts and be @ them where appropriate.

6. Pinterest

Pinterest may well conjure up images of kids crafts, Christmas decorations and DIY gardening ideas, but much like Instagram, this other visual social channel is growing in popularity and influence among businesses. While other social media channels tend to have one dominant ‘type’ of content (eg. blogs have articles, Twitter has links, Instagram has images), Pinterest is all encompassing. Boards can be created to showcase a variety of things associated with your business, whether they be motivational quotes, images from your latest conference, examples of your work or healthy office treats,

The best type of Pinterest pin is: one that inspires your prospective customers. Whether for business or for pleasure, the main role of Pinterest is inspiration. So make sure your pins inspire users because then you have a greater chance of seeing them become leads.

3 top tips for Pinterest:

  • Post unique content. As we scroll through Pinterest and see an image we like, we pin it. But the images have to come from somewhere. Be a creator as much as a sharer and ensure you upload some unique content as well as sharing others.
  • Make your images pinnable. These days, social media does a lot of the hard yards for you through ‘sharing’. That is why having social icons on your website is so important, and that includes making your website images pinnable.
  • Don’t forget to optimize. The internet is saturated with content – whether that be words, images or video. To ensure yours stands out and can be found, optimize your images captions with keywords.

7. YouTube

Almost a third of all people on the internet use YouTube – that’s over a billion users**. With user numbers like that, if your business isn’t already using YouTube perhaps you should consider it. But before you say, ‘our budget doesn’t extend to making video’, just think how often you use your smartphone to video. It’s a tool right at your fingertips and if it could result in lead generation, it’s certainly worth thinking about.

The best type of YouTube video is: one that tells a story. Think of video as another medium that allows you to invite prospective customers into your organisation’s culture. Don’t use it as a blatant sales tool, those demo videos are a thing of the past. Rather, think creatively, and get clever about the way you interact with users to generate leads.

3 top tips for YouTube:

  • Create your own YouTube channel and upload new videos to this on a regular basis. Think of it as your video blog. New content will have customers and viewers returning for more.
  • Get the format right. Make sure your video is uploaded in a format that is not only compatible with YouTube but also compatible with different devices. Remember, these days people use a range of devices so it’s important to cover your bases. You never know where your next lead will come from.
  • Optimise your content. Yes, it’s been mentioned before but optimising your content is imperative if you want it to be found amongst the hundreds of thousands of other videos on YouTube.
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