Using Social Media for Lead Generation?

Given everything that is written on Social Media, I was surprised to learn that three quarters of marketers have $100K or less budgeted for social media marketing. This is based on a Q4, 2008 Global Social Media Survey from Forrester of companies with 250 employees or more.

So why is there so much ink and so little spend?

Maybe because in a recessionary time where everyone is ROI focused, marketers don’t think of social media as having a payback? But it can if it’s used correctly. Social media should start to become "a" source of leads for your marketing team. Why? Because conversations are taking place on the topics that you have experience and expertise in. And if you’re not the one leading those conversations, then someone else is positioning themselves as the trusted expert in your area of expertise. So what can you do?

You can embrace the shift in media consumption and learn a new set of
skills to be competitive. You can start by making a commitment to it. It’s inexpensive but it takes a considerable investment in time. 

First, think about who you are going to target (be specific) and what your positioning/area of expertise will be. At this point you will want to dive in but don’t start yet. If you haven’t already, set up a Google Reader Account and spend several weeks interacting with others and their blogs. This will help you get a sense for what works and what doesn’t before you start blogging yourself. Once you start writing, get at least 50 posts completed before putting up your blog. Once up, you can re-purpose content from others so you can easily create 2-3 new posts per week. 

Now you can start driving traffic to your blog through Email Marketing, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Your blog should be the core of your social media presence and everything you do should drive to it.

Join as many relevant groups as you can and push your content to establish yourself and your company as a leader in the space.  The purpose of social media in new business is to start conversations with prospects. Each comment left, email sent and tweet posted has potential to be a lead but your initial lead identification goal is only to start a conversation about the topic…not to sell. Once a conversation is started, there are some Rules that should be followed to increase your chance of converting:

•    The conversation should have at least five back and fourths before you show any effort toward identifying a pain/challenge.

•    Demonstrating empathy and understanding is key to conversations in social media around a pain/challenge for new business.

•    Suggestive techniques can easily be used to suggest potential solutions to a problem from past experience, insight or knowledge…and it’s great if you can link back to a blog post on the topic.

•    Once you’ve built your trust on the subject – then it’s time to move forward selling. But avoid selling through social media – take a lengthy conversation off-line and suggest a call or meeting.

While time consuming and awkward at first, once you are up and running, it’s really no different than other forms of prospecting. You’ve identified a pain or challenge, you’ve supplied a suggested solution, and then you have a prospect to work.

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