Top Social Media Strategies for Improving Lead Generation


Tapping into social media can transform lead generation efforts from “meh” to “Whoa!”. However, social has become more complicated in recent years. This article will show you:

  • How social marketing is shifting toward peer-to-peer influence marketing and away from company-to-buyer marketing.
  • How social sharing amplifies lead generation — and how to get audience to share
  • The particular advantages and best practices for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and SlideShare
  • The key social components of successful lead-gen strategy

Peer-to-peer influence marketing
Social marketing is shifting away from company-to-buyer marketing, and toward peer-to-peer influence marketing. A recent Forrester survey found that only 20% of buyers believe what a brand says about itself, because people view any brand-to-buyer communication as an advertisement. Conversely, 70% of buyers trust the recommendations of their friends and family.

When people learn about your brand through social, it gives you the opportunity to turn those “Likes” into leads. By adding elements of social to your campaigns, you empower customers, prospects, and fans to become brand advocates. Leveraging the power of peer-to-peer communication delivers no- or low-cost brand lift and increased brand authenticity. Because your audience’s peers have nothing to gain by recommending a product, peer-to-peer word of mouth is one of the most credible forms of “advertising”.

Social sharing
Social sharing amplifies your message and your lead generation efforts, but getting people to share isn’t easy. People are motivated to share by:

  1. Reputation enhancement
  2. Access to something exclusive
  3. Opportunities for co-creation/authorship
  4. Competitions
  5. Altruism

Keep these motivations in mind, and try to align them to your social offers. Consider adding some extra oomph to your social campaigns and messaging by employing one of these tactics:

  • Refer-a-friend: Create a compelling offer for both the referrers and referees. This taps into the same power as peer-to-peer recommendations—people are far more likely to trust their friends. Of course, this is also a fantastic way to collect lead information.
  • Sweepstakes: Create a contest and get your entrants to spread the word on your behalf. Everyone loves winning, and contests are highly shareable on social channels. You can also gain important lead data through entry forms.
  • Polls and voting: Everyone has an opinion, and most people are happy to share. Build relationships with campaigns that engage your audience and compel them to share their opinions. You can also gain valuable information about your leads’ likes and dislikes, which can help you plan future campaigns.
  • Flash deals: Create a sense of urgency with a strong CTA and a time limit—these cause leads to act quickly. Flash deals can quickly increase brand awareness and bring in new customers.

So what kind of content should you post on social channels? Social media has many different functions, including lead generation, brand awareness, and relationship building. To be effective, you need a good balance of promotional content and thought leadership. We advise marketers to use the 80/20 rule—80% of your content should be informational/educational, and 20% should be self-promotional.

Facebook
The key is to strike a balance between offering content that is valuable for brand positioning, and offering content that is fun and shareable on social channels. If you can show value to your followers, your lead generation efforts can have a true network effect.

Facebook News Feed
Facebook’s News Feed uses an algorithm to determine whether your posts get displayed on a user’s News Feed, which is critical for lead generation. So how do you get your posts to appear? This algorithm has gone through numerous iterations, and (like Google) will continue to change over time, but it always responds to content engagement—if users and their networks interact with your content, it will show up in the feed. If not, it will be dropped.

Here are some other factors that the algorithm considers:

  • Affinity: How close is the relationship between the user and content?
  • Weight: What type of action was taken on the content?
  • Decay: How current is the content?
  • Post Types: What types of posts does a user typically interact with?
  • Hide Post/Spam: What types of posts does a user usually hide or mark as spam?
  • Clicking on Ads: Do users interact with the ad?
  • Device Considerations: Can multiple devices handle your content?
  • Story Bumping: A post may be older, but is it still being interacted with?

Promoted Posts
Amplify your lead generation and engage your followers (and your followers’ networks) by putting paid efforts behind some of your top posts. Remember, when using promoted posts for lead generation purposes, there should always be a strong CTA—ask followers to download an asset, attend a webinar, or learn about a new product. You want people to have something to click on.

How do promoted posts work? You can promote a post (including status updates, videos, blog posts, and offers) directly from your News Feed. Any post you promote will automatically appear higher in the News Feed, so more people will see it. You can also determine a specific budget for each promoted post. Your
budget will depend on your personal business objectives, but Facebook prices promotions based on your fan count and budget—they can range from $10 to $1000.

Facebook Ads
Facebook ads provide highly targeted opportunities to reach your audience. They appear on the right side of a user’s screen, and are similar to traditional Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads—you place a bid on how much you want to pay per click, or you can pay per thousand people who will see your ad. And much like a typical PPC ad, the cost depends on the popularity of your keyword terms. You can choose to link Facebook ads to pages on your website, or to your Facebook page to get more “Likes”. You can also target Facebook ads based on a variety of demographic criteria including location, job title, age, industry, gender, and more.

Custom Audiences
If you’re using Sponsored Stories or paid ads, you can target a specific set of users, or custom audiences, with whom you’ve already established a relationship—either on or off of Facebook. These audiences can be defined by the following attributes:

  • Email address
  • Facebook user ID
  • Phone number
  • Facebook App user ID
  • Apple IDFA
  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Education
  • Interests
  • Connections

Tracking and Results
Facebook’s Page Insights application provides fantastic analytics, tracking a variety of engagement and ad performance metrics. Leveraging this data internally can help you begin the conversation about your program ROI on social.

Page Insights lets you see:

  • Page “Likes”
  • Post reach
  • Engagement
  • Organic/paid reach per post
  • Post clicks
  • Post “Likes”
  • Comments
  • Shares

Twitter
Promoted Tweets
Form of paid ads that appear in a user’s feed, targeted to followers and users who fit our criteria. Our Promoted Tweets contain timely and engaging offers, like contests for free trips to industry events, or links to relevant thought leadership. We use Promoted Tweets to create demand for new content assets, upcoming events, or demos. Every Promoted Tweet that we run leads to a form, which improves our chances of gaining user data. Like Facebook ads and Google Adwords, Promoted Tweets use a Cost-Per-Click (CPC) pricing model.

Twitter enables you to target tweets based on the following criteria:

  • Interests
  • Keywords in timeline
  • Gender
  • Geography
  • Device
  • Similarity to existing followers

Marketo also uses Promoted Tweets in Twitter searches. These tweets target users based on particular keyword and hashtag searches. For tweets promoted in search results, we run two offers every two weeks, with three different tweets focusing on 15 keywords and five countries. Fresh, relevant content offers with the right messaging yield click-through rates of up to 17%, with a cost-per-prospect at around $14. This, of course, will vary based on your offer and the relevancy of your content.

We always see significant spikes in relevant tweets during industry events, so we decided to capitalize on that, using Promoted Tweets in search results during key conferences such as Dreamforce. This allows us to be part of relevant conversations while the conversations are still hot. By targeting event-specific hashtags and relevant keywords like “lead management”, we can tap into prime lead-generating moments. Being a part of real-time conversations means pouncing on real-time opportunities.

Promoted Accounts and Trends
Twitter also offers two additional promoted ad options—Promoted Accounts and Promoted Trends. With Promoted Account ads, businesses can make their Twitter accounts show up under the “Who to follow” list on your Twitter page. This can be targeted based on who a user typically follows, whether it’s a similar advertiser or an industry thought leader. Promoted accounts can also be placed in search results when someone searches for a particular topic or hashtag.

Promoted Trends enable a business or an individual to promote a particular trend or hashtag, which appears on the left-hand side of a user’s screen, under “Trends”. Note that promoted trends carry a hefty price tag—according to Mashable, placement costs about $200,000.

Twitter Lead Generation Cards
Twitter Lead Generation Cards permit businesses to collect lead information directly from Twitter. How do these work? When individuals expand your tweet, they see a form, a description of your compelling offer, and a CTA. Twitter handles, names, and email addresses are already filled in, so all a lead has to do is click the CTA.

Twitter Lead Generation Cards can also sync to your marketing automation tool, but note that Lead Generation Cards only have a full name field—most marketing automation tools collect names in a first and last name field. Also, Twitter Lead Generation Cards do not capture company data. Because of this, you can’t (yet) push the lead information to most CRM tools.

Tracking and Results
When people choose to follow you on Twitter, you’ll be notified and can review their conversations in dedicated streams. This helps you identify opportunities to engage. We’ve seen immediate results from our efforts on Twitter: our average lead-conversion rate from emails and online campaigns is between 2-3%, but some of our Twitter campaigns have yielded conversion rates as high as 14%.

A little self-promotion is good for business, but if your entire tweet history is about you and your company, you’re doing it wrong. Use the 80/20 rule: 80% of your content should be helpful or entertaining, 20% should be promotional

LinkedIn
Company Page
Building out your company page is the first step to optimizing LinkedIn for lead generation. Your company page tells users who you are, what you do, and why they should follow you. Follow these key best practices when building out your LinkedIn company page:

  • Optimize your company page for keywords—people frequently run searches on LinkedIn, so make sure you show up in results.
  • Add tabs to your company page— these are usually “Careers”, “Products”, and “Insights”. Your “Products” tab should be optimized for search.
  • Post on LinkedIn at least once daily to establish your presence.
  • Consider adding videos and other media to your product pages to further engage users.

LinkedIn Sponsored Updates
To get into the lead generation game, LinkedIn began offering Sponsored Updates, allowing companies to put paid promotions behind status updates. These promoted updates are seen by your followers and targeted users outside of your follower network. Like all other social ads, LinkedIn updates should include a visual, and then link to a gated asset. Sponsored Updates allow you to target users—you can choose to include or exclude users based on the following criteria:

  • Location
  • Company name
  • Job title
  • Skills
  • School name
  • LinkedIn Group associations
  • Gender
  • Age

LinkedIn Ads
LinkedIn ads give companies the chance to target their audience in powerful, unique ways. How? The information found on a user’s LinkedIn profile is different than other social networks, and it’s particularly helpful for businesses. This data maps well to the lead data you want from users—such as job title, company, industry, geographic location, and other demographic targeting. LinkedIn allows you to customize your ads—you can opt for text-only ads, images, or video ads. However, according to LinkedIn, adding an image to your ad can bring you 20% more clicks.

Google+
About Us Page
Use the “About Us” page on Google+ to give audiences a quick overview of your business. From there, you can link to specific pages and services, directing potential customers to the most important pages on your website. Make sure your copy is SEO friendly, but—as always—avoid keyword stuffing.

Claiming Ownership of Your Content
We’ve already discussed Google AuthorRank in our chapter about SEO, but it’s worth noting that Google search results greatly favor those who engage with Google+. Google Authorship is how Google authenticates authors, and how it begins to “trust” you as a quality source of content.

Google+ Hangouts
Google+ Hangouts are a great way to generate buzz, sharing, and brand awareness. Gather thought leaders in your industry for a panel or a topical chat. Send out invites to your customer and prospect base, and
make sure you promote heavily on social.

Slideshare
Creative Topics and Visuals
Content marketing through SlideShare can help you establish yourself as an expert in your field, using highly consumable visual elements. When it comes to lead generation, SlideShare can help you attract audiences who might ordinarily skim past your content. Some people might want to read a 10-page ebook, while others want to consume their information quickly and visually.

Optimizing for SEO
Creating slide presentations that rank for certain keywords can be much easier than ranking a post on your blog. To give your presentations a fighting chance in the world of search engines (as well as in SlideShare’s own search results) include keyword-rich titles, descriptions, and tags. Write your titles and descriptions with SEO in mind. SlideShare presentations are easily embedded into other sites, which will also drive SEO results. Each time someone embeds your presentation, it serves as an inbound link to your content.

SlideShare Forms
With SlideShare, you can embed a lead generation form directly into your presentation, which pops up after some or all of your presentation is complete. Users can enter their information to download the slides and learn more about your company. If you are using a marketing automation platform, you can sync your leads directly into your database and add them to a nurture program.

Content from Marketo

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