How to use social media for lead generation

I’ve been blogging for over five years. When I started, there wasn’t a business case on the ROI of blogging, nor was there a lot written on B2B lead generation. I started blogging because I wanted to share with everyone what I thought were useful B2B lead generation ideas, tips, and resources – material that I was already freely giving to my clients.

I have to say, my expectations were pretty low. I thought maybe I’d attract a few new clients, but I didn’t know it would generate so many leads, or develop into a book deal with a major publisher – who came to me, by the way. Blogging became a way to help build my company’s reputation, and your reputation helps people make conclusions about your brand.

Still not convinced that you should delve into social media? Maybe you think there’s no way to measure social media’s success. Here’s a case study that MarketingSherpa released earlier this month that follows one company through its social media adventure. In the end, the team’s analysis showed a dramatic correlation between the use of social media channels and the growth of the company’s Web traffic and leads. They showed a 155% increase in unique Web visitors and they also generated more links on non-brand search terms that helped boost their search engine results positions.

MarketingSherpa Members can view the case study at length.  Here’s a look at the 5 steps they took:

1.    Created a blog to start and join online conversations
Blogging and conversating brings in that human touch that I am forever pushing. It can seem like a daunting project, but this company set up an online monitoring system that helped them finetune their blog. They scanned the Web, the blogosphere, online fourms, and communities to find conversations relevant to their industry and their technical audience. An RSS feed gave the team something to review each morning. They used several scanning tools including TweetScan for Twitter posts, Google Alerts for industry terms, and Boardtracker.com to monitor technology forums and message boards.

When the scanning tools found a relevant conversation, such as a blog post, a team member would join that conversation and point readers to content on the same topic at the company website. The team also used their blog to write stories on subjects that had the potential to go viral. Those stories generated links from other industry blogs and articles in major trade publications.

2.    Established a Twitter account
The company used the account to supplement their blog. As I’ve written before, using social media tools like Twitter for lead generation, I have found Twitter to be helpful in this way.The company in the Case Study used tweets to post notices of new blogs and webinars, trivia questions, and informal focus group questions. An example: They conducted a poll of Twitter followers about potential names for the company newsletter.

3.    Created a LinkedIn group
The group also started a Facebook account, but found that the LinkedIn group began attracting members with the right professional backgrounds. The team established the group as a forum to discuss issues not related to the company or its products but issues related to network test equipment and security. Group members took the lead in starting conversations themselves, but the company acted as host, joining discussions when they had something to add in order to keep members engaged.

4.    Modified press release strategy for blogger coverage
The team revamped its press release strategy to encourage more online coverage for the company. This is what they did:

  • Released at least one new press release each week, and kept them short with links to sections of the company’s website.
  • Shifted release time from 8 a.m. EST to late morning/early afternoon to accommodate West Coast bloggers.
  • Published press releases using a service called PitchEngine, and posted to social media channels such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

5.    Promoted social media channels on company website and in email signatures
Under a “join us” headline, link visitors to your Facebook or LinkedIn groups. Employees’ email signatures should include links to all accounts as well.

6.    Measured growth of social media and Web traffic
The company made sure to track metrics to determine the growth of their various social media channels, such as unique blog page views, Twitter followers, and LinkedIn members. They also tracked a series of marketing metrics such as unique website visitors, traffic generated by SEO, leads, leads by source (inbound Web, email, trade shows, seminars, etc.), and marketing-influenced pipeline activity, by source. They compared metrics to look for correlations between activity in social media outlets and an increase in leads and sales pipeline activity.

Maybe you have some tips or other reading material suggestions for marketers who are interested in using social media to jumpstart their lead generation process. I’d love for you to pass those along.

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