This is part eight of our series Marketing in the Service of Sales, about how marketing professionals can demonstrate to their sales counterparts and the rest of their organization that they bring real value to the table as an equal partner in the marketing-sales relationship.
Social media plays a more active role in marketing and sales than it ever has, and without it, you're missing out on opportunities to reach your customers. According to Forrester Research, 68% of B2B buyers prefer to conduct their own online research, so without social media, chances are those buyers may not find you.
Think of social media as an integral part of the customer journey - it could help increase not only the number of leads, but the quality of those leads as well. In fact, Hootsuite states that 59% of marketers identified social media marketing as the most effective tactic used for improving lead generation quality.
Part 3: Developing Customer Personas
Part 5: Programmatic Media Buying
Part 9: ABM—Focus and Pursue to Win
Part 10: 3 Ways PR Influences Sales
of marketers identified social media marketing as the most effective tactic used for improving lead generation quality.
However, simply having a social media account for your business isn't enough to find those quality leads. Sales and marketing teams need to work together to create social media platforms that uniquely reflect the personas of your target audiences.
Here's how you can use social media to support your sales funnel and increase lead generation:
1. Find Your Audience
Not all audiences have a presence on the same social platforms. Before you put a real effort into leveraging social for sales and leads, make sure to identify the platform or platforms that your customers actually use. Start by looking at the demographics of each platform to determine which ones best line up with each of your target audiences and also observe their online habits. For example, contractors might prefer to engage on Facebook if they have a product question, but rely on Instagram if they want to share before/after product shots. Overall, LinkedIn is likely the most valuable B2B platform, as it accounts for 80% of social media B2B leads according to HubSpot.
2. Optimize Your Profiles
Optimizing your social media profiles helps potential customers find your brand when they search for topics relevant to your site. Optimizing ultimately means giving your profiles the best chance of reaching your target audience. When optimizing each profile, make sure to:
- Use your company name as your username, which makes it easier for customers to find you
- Add a company bio that includes relevant, industry keywords and a trackable link back to your website
- Upload your company logo as your profile image
3. Consider a Paid Strategy
An organic strategy can certainly be successful in generating leads and increasing sales. However, supplementing your organic strategy with a paid one gives your brand an even better chance of success. With boosted posts, you can amplify your reach, target a specific audience and determine the length of time you want your post to be promoted.
Paid advertisements are another option for helping your brand reach potential quality leads on social media. Paid ads allow for more customization when it comes to audience targeting and you have more control over where your audience sees the ad, whether it's in an Instagram story or in a Facebook newsfeed.
4. Leverage Online Listening
The majority of people discussing your brand online may not be talking on your social platforms. The way to find those conversations and identify potential leads is through online listening. Online listening tools allow you to zero in on:
- what people are talking about in relation to your brand,
- how they're talking, and
- where they're talking, whether that's on social media or across news sites, blogs or forums.
When you can determine where these conversations are happening most often, you can continue to monitor those channels and respond to any questions or inquiries to turn those into leads.
5. Share Value-Add Content
Social media shouldn't focus solely on serving your business - its main goal should be to serve your customers and give them what they need by providing value-add content. Yes, giving your audience product details is important, but that shouldn't be the only thing you share.
Instead of giving a sales pitch, put yourself in the shoes of your audience. What challenges do they face, and how can you help them overcome them? For example, maybe they have a hard time keeping up with industry trends. In that case, sharing a short blog post that provides an overview of important, emerging trends could be really useful to them. Once the blog post is on your company's LinkedIn, for example, sales representatives could share it with their followers and in messages to targeted customers. Use social media analytics to identify which pieces of content are performing the best so you can tailor future content to the needs of your audience.
of buyers say they value content that's tailored to their industry, role or department.
Forrester Research reports that 79% of buyers say they value content that's tailored to their industry, role or department, so if they're not getting that content from your social media platforms, chances are they may be going elsewhere for that information (i.e. your competitors). This value-add content could be shared in numerous formats, including case studies, infographics, blog posts, webinars, guides and videos.
The Bottom Line
Social media is so much more than a tool for brand building - it can drive traffic to your website, establish credibility, tell your story to customers, and when integrated with sales, can be used to locate targeted, high-quality leads that grow your business.