Editor’s Note: This post was published in June 2016 and has been updated with new information.
Want to use social media to increase your website traffic, leads and sales?
If that’s your goal, it may be time to shift your thinking on how social media can be used in your marketing mix.
At this point, many B2B marketing organizations still think of social media as a tool for building brand awareness. Social media teams often focus on posting content to drive engagement. They set goals such as growing their follower base and generating engagement in terms of clicks, shares and comments.
In reality, you can also use social media in more a targeted way to find and engage with new leads for your business, grow your database and nurture leads into customers.
Below, I’ll show you how you can approach social media marketing through a different perspective and provide 5 concrete ideas on how you can use social to boost traffic, leads and sales.
Think More Like Demand Generation Marketers
The goal of demand generation is to build and nurture prospect and customer relationships for the long term. Demand generation marketers don’t just focus on brand awareness programs or early funnel marketing tactics. They think about programs that touch prospects throughout the conversion optimization and sales cycle.
How do I segment my database for an email campaign? What sorts of events should I sponsor? What type of blog posts, e-books and webinars should I be promoting in my lead nurturing campaigns? How do I transform my PPC, content and email marketing spends into a revenue-generating engine in which every dollar spent translates into much more earned?
These are the types of questions demand generation marketers need to answer, and they turn to data to inform their decisions.
As a social media manager, you should also actively think about how social media marketing can be fueling the revenue-generating engine within your company.
Instead of looking at social media as a content distribution channel, think about the data insights you can gain about your target audience through their social interactions with all the players in your ecosystem. There are many ways you can utilize these audience insights to improve the programs in your demand generation mix. Let’s explore a few ideas one by one below.
1. Targeting & Segmentation: Use Social Data to Identify your target prospects
Did you know that 81% of Americans aged 18-35 log onto Twitter at least once per day (Pew Research)?
At this point, there are 106 million total monthly active users on LinkedIn and 79% of B2B marketers view LinkedIn as an effective source for generating leads (Meenakshi Chaudhary).
People reveal a lot about themselves on social networks. In addition to maintaining social profiles, most professionals are also using social media to stay abreast of industry trends and relevant business issues, share content to showcase their own expertise and solicit recommendations from peers when making purchase decisions.
In addition to posting content on social networks, you can use all this public, user-generated data on social networks to identify your target prospects and engage them proactively.
With modern social lead generation tools, you can quickly discover the people who fit your buyer persona and are active in your space – whether it’s people who follow your competitors, mention industry influencers, or those talking about specific business issues and emerging technologies.
For example, if you are looking to reach HR administers who might be interested in your employee engagement / survey tool, you can go to Twitter to search for people who have “human resources” in their job title and have just taken actions such as:
- Mention HR trends such as “employee engagement”, “company culture”, “people analytics” in their tweets
- Follow HR influencers such as Laszlo Bock (@LaszloBock2718, Former SVP of People Operations at Google and author of “Work Rules”)
- Follow or engage with your competitors
- Talk about HR industry events using these event’s designated hashtags
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2. Use Twitter Direct Messages to Engage with Prospects One on One
Once you know what someone is interested in, you can start a conversation with them in context. By using a personalized DM to influence a prospect early in the buying cycle, you can pierce through the noise of inbox spam and increase your chances of building a relationship.
Do you have research studies or benchmarking report on a trending topic that would pique the interest of your customers? Or an amusing infographic on a relatable topic?
Providing a content asset on a relevant topic in a DM is a great way to introduce your brand to your target audience and drive traffic to your website. To learn more about how to use Twitter Direct Messages to grow your audience, drive traffic and generate new leads, check out this article.
If you use a social lead generation tool like Socedo, which discovers new leads based on the keywords you specify, you’ll already know what the topic this audience cares about and be able to tailor your DM accordingly.
For example, let’s say that your company just hosted a webinar two weeks ago with an influencer in your industry. When a lead starts to follow that influencer or retweets content from that person, you could send them the on-demand recording from the influencer webinar.
Since the person has already indicated expressed in this influencer’s content, they’ll probably appreciate your webinar as well.
If the lead clicks through the direct message and registers for the webinar, you know have another indicator that they care about a particular topic. With this insight, you can put them into a nurture track and continue to send them educational content on this topic.
3. Use Social Media Data to Inform Your Lead Nurture Programs
Although email marketing is the bread and butter within most B2B organizations, many are seeing diminishing returns from this channel. At this point, marketers in many industries are seeing email open rates that do not exceed 30%. In fact, the average email open rate in 2017 was 24.7%. Click through rates are in the low single digit. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to beat this trend of decline. From segmentation to mobile optimization, there are some best practices marketers should consider.
But to nurture leads effectively, you need to understand what topics your database care about, and where each lead is in the buying journey. However, many of us simply don’t have this information because the majority of our leads have not engaged with our emails or visited our website in the last 30, 60, or 90 days.
By getting social media data in your email marketing system, you’ll be able to develop more robust buyer personas and intent-driven email campaigns.
Chances are, your content marketing team already has a list of topics they develop content around, influencers they work with, and competitors to watch out for.
With Socedo, you can track which leads in your database are engaging with the topics, influencers and competitors you care about. In your marketing automation system, you can set up campaigns to listen for certain keywords in tweets. And as soon as someone matches on that keyword / topic, you can trigger an email to them that references their tweet and share an article, whitepaper or video on the matching topic.
For example, here at Socedo, we know that our target audience reads articles from Content Marketing Institute. We track our leads’ Twitter activities around @CMIContent (Content Marketing Institute). As soon as a lead in our database follows @CMIContent or mentions the publication in a tweet, we send the person an email letting them know that Socedo was featured in a recent article published on CMI’s website.
4. Event Marketing: Use Social Media to Increase ROI on Your Events
Most B2B marketing organizations are investing at least some amount of resources into events, tradeshows or conferences to get face-to-face time with your prospects.
You’ve probably noticed that during an event or conference, hundreds of attendees will tweet out pictures of slides, quotes, or discuss strategies with the same hashtag.
You can follow the hashtag for every event your team attends, actively engaging with attendees who use that hashtag and ask them to stop by your booth for a conversation, or introduce them to your teammates who are in attendance.
You could also use the event hashtag plus other MQL characteristics like job titles or locations to discover people who attended the event. To learn more about how to reach your target audience based on the events they attend, check out this blog post. With a social lead generation solution that brings these contacts into your marketing automation system, you can create a target list of people for your sales team to follow up with personally.
5. Add Social Engagement Data Into Your Lead Scoring Model
Chances are, your organization is already using a lead scoring model that incorporates some behavioral data into the model. Your current lead scoring model might score actions such as opening marketing emails, clicking on those emails, downloading content from your website and form fills to things like demo requests.
Unfortunately, most lead scoring models are blind to your leads’ social media engagement with your own content and third party content in your ecosystem. These social actions tend to be great indicators of top-of-funnel interest.
Here at Socedo, we’ve found that socially engaged leads in our database tend to be better leads. Over the course of a month, we found that leads generated from social media signals were 45% more likely to convert into opportunities, and in about two-thirds of the time.
With social media data in your lead scoring model, you can identify prospects who are showing interest in your company, and pass more Marketing Qualified Leads “over the line” to your sales team.
Here are a few types of activities to score:
- Clicks on your own social media posts
- Retweets or shares of your own posts
- Following your branded handle or your executives’ Twitter handles
- Click throughs on direct messages you send
- Engagement with industry influencers and industry publications
- Engagements with your competitors
At the end of the day, you want to make sure that all of your marketing activities are focused on bringing your sales team qualified prospects who are good fits, and ready to make a purchase.
Social media provides new ways to discover, engage with, and nurture your prospects to bring new customers to your company.
If you want to learn more about how to use social media to make a quantifiable impact for your business, check out our e-book “Why Social Demand Generation is a Must Have in Your Marketing ToolKit”.
To see how you can use social media to discover, engage and nurture new leads, start a free trial of Socedo today.