Using Social Media to Generate Inbound Leads

Inbound marketing is great. Having leads show up in your inbox without actually having to go out and pursue them? That’s the dream, right?!

Absolutely it is. The problem is that it’s not really how it works. Yes, inbound marketing is an incredibly powerful way to generate leads – once you know what it is and how to work the system to get your content out there in front of the right people at the right time.

Remember this – for all the new buzz words that marketers have created to make ourselves sound brilliant, marketing has not changed in thousands of years. It still boils down to these four ideas:

  • Right message to the
  • Right people using the
  • Right channels at the
  • Right time

So, with all of the fascination with social media these days – and with all of the different social media channels that people use every day, how do we decide what channel is the best channel for our inbound marketing content?

Last week we discussed some of the basics of inbound marketing and identified a few different channels – and we’ll go through all of them – but for the next couple weeks I’m going to focus a bi on the social media channels and the big question:

How Do I Know Which Social Media Channels I Should Be Using?

That can definitely be a tough question and it’s always going to depend on your target market. Let’s look at a few different social media platforms and see what they look like from a targeting perspective.

Facebook

If you’re going to be using social media, it’s more than likely that Facebook is going to have to be on your content distribution list. With 77% of the online population currently on Facebook, they’re the place to be to have your content seen. They also have the best targeting options available for advertisers, making your investment go quite a bit further than some other social platforms.

Twitter

We’ve all heard the various predictions from the talking heads about the impending downfall of the 140 character giant but they’ve shown time and again that they have some staying power in this game. The key thing to remember with Twitter is that, as much as people try to automate their activity, Twitter is all about conversations for maximum impact. With the average life span of a tweet being 15 seconds, you need to keep touching people to make a lasting impression on them. That said, once you do it’s shown to be a reliable engagement tool.

Twitter also has the ability to give you unprecedented access to high profile people and decision makers making it a great potential lead targeting tool and/or brand amplifier. It’s definitely worth looking into but if you don’t have the time (or aren’t willing to spend it) to really dive into it, it’s best to temper your expectations.

LinkedIn

For online business networking, LinkedIn is definitely the place to be. LinkedIn is where a lot of business professionals go to explore, expand and engage their networks for referral relationships, partnering opportunities and, you guessed it, sales leads (although most people don’t like to call it that). Between the network that you can develop through your first and second level connections, joining groups that are “target” rich can really make an impact.

While the vast majority of groups discourage outright selling, you can post discussion topics about recent blog articles that you’ve written, share whitepapers and other downloadable content that you’ve either created, written or curated from other sources and brand yourself as a leader in your field with minimal effort. (NOTE: Whitepapers and downloadable content are particularly good if the visitor has to enter their contact information to download them).

Pinterest

This is an interesting one. While the lion’s share of Pinterest users are women, their user base is growing rapidly and we’re starting to see the gender gap tighten up a bit. Regardless, Pinterest gives you a great way to share visual, almost tangible content. I’ve seen the strongest case studies come from companies that are selling physical products but more and more service based companies are starting to figure out ways to get their content out there as well – they just have to get a bit more creative.

There are tons of social channels out there and this list could go on for a long time. Spend some time looking around the social media platforms that you’re on. What kind of ads are you seeing? What kind of organic content? And, most importantly, what kind of people. If you’re seeing groups of people that you’d like to see on your customer list, you need to get involved.

Remember, even in the world of social media, decisions are made by the people who show up…and so are sales.

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