Consider for a moment the niche B2B market you serve. Now imagine that you’re better connected in that market than just about anyone else. Now go one step further and imagine that you’re better at sparking conversations with those connections than anyone else in your niche market. What might the impact of that be on your business? It’s not difficult to imagine how you might get more inquiries, requests for proposals or call bookings than the average competitor in your industry. This is the beginning of your social media lead generation program.
That is the beauty of social media lead generation program. If you’re able to crack how to consistently generate leads from one of the social networks, then that can become a material contributor to your overall flow of inbound B2B leads. If you crack how to do this on multiple social sites then that could easily be as valuable to your business as being page one listed on Google!
The biggest challenge of a social media lead generation program is figuring out repeatable processes that mean social media becomes an ongoing and predictable source of B2B leads, rather than just producing peaks and troughs of interest. The key things I stress to achieve this are focusing on developing a strategy that adheres to the following rules:
- Must be achievable – pick an outcome for social media lead generation that is eminently achievable, rather than a pipe-dream. If people have always wanted to speak with someone before buying your services, don’t expect social media to suddenly be able to drive leads to a website and have them buy without talking to someone first. Stick with outcomes that you know are achievable.
- Should fit existing processes – however your sales team currently handle inbound sales enquiries, make sure your social media lead generation strategy feeds into that process – rather than requiring the sales team to do something totally separate for the incoming social media leads.
- Should be scalable – pick a lead funnel for your business where the business could handle a lot more leads. If you try to generate leads of a kind that quickly mean the business is at full capacity and can’t handle any more, then you’ll never turn your process into one that’s predictable and really scalable.
- Should be measurable – make sure that you set things up in a way that means you can see the various activities and conversion rates being achieved on social media and so can optimise these things over time.
- Ideally supports A/B testing – often by experimenting with new wording or with variants of an offer, we can see the end results of our work more than doubled. Try to build your social media lead funnel in a way that will allow you to do this testing and therefore ramp up the results you achieve over time.
- Is timeless – if you are running a one-off event to generate interest in your business and your social media is going to generate the attendee signups for this event, it’s going to be hit and miss whether you get that approach and wording right the first time. Whereas if you have your social media feed into a timeless call booking process, or generate attendees for a recurring event you run, then all your efforts and learning will be magnified over time.
So with that all said, let’s look at one example of how social media lead generation could work in your business. Let’s take the example of LinkedIn lead generation, which when done well can become an ongoing source of conversations, calls and meetings with the perfect B2B prospects.
An Example: LinkedIn B2B Lead Generation
The reason I say this with such confidence? Because we’re putting this strategy into practice for clients around the world and see the staggering results that are being generated. There are also lead generation companies charging US $2,500+ per month to implement similar steps for corporate clients. Needless to say, that kind of spend demands consistent and tangible results in order to justify the outlay. So what are the most important things they are doing?
Well there are just 4 steps to follow to start getting these kinds of results in your business. In essence, we’re talking about you growing your network of prospects on LinkedIn – in a way that makes you valuable and engaging rather than salesy. Then nurturing these leads so that more and more conversations are sparked. Let’s take a look at these 4 steps in turn.
Step 1 – Ensuring Your LinkedIn Headline Appeals to Your Target Prospects
Success for any social media lead generation plan is a function of two key variables. Firstly, what’s the Reach of your account – how much of your target audience does your account reach? Secondly, what’s the Conversion Rate that you’re able to achieve with that audience reach? On any social site, show me a business that’s disappointed with the inbound lead results they are getting from social media and I can guarantee they have a problem either with inadequate reach or with poor conversion rates (frequently both!).
LinkedIn is no different.
So our starting point is that we need our account to reach more of the right people – and one of the most effective ways for that to happen is for your ideal prospects to connect with you.
What I want to stress here is the overriding importance of your LinkedIn headline. This is the 1-2 line description you’re able to write about yourself just under your name on your LinkedIn profile. This is important for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s what appears alongside your name and photo in lots of places on LinkedIn. Just look at your LinkedIn homepage feed for a moment and see how many of your contacts’ headlines actually leave you knowing what that person does. I’ll bet lots of them read along the lines of:
- Account Manager at Davies & Bertram
- Recruiter at Arby Gold
- Sales Director at Phoenix Advanced Technologies
These are all examples of bad headlines. We want to remind people each time they see us on LinkedIn what it is that we do or who it is that we can help. Not in an overly salesy way, but in a way that’s informative or intrigues people to want to find out more. For example, my headline reads:
Social Media Marketing is like a Rubik’s Cube. I’ll help your business solve it!
I hope you can see the difference here, the key is to think about things from the point of view of your target B2B prospects. Who do you help? What problem does your service help people to overcome? What type of people do you help secure their dream job? These are reasons people would notice you in their feed and want to connect with you.
And that’s the other reason your headline is so important – because it’s what people are presented with when being asked if they’d like to accept your connection request. Take a look at your “Received invitations” page on LinkedIn and you’ll notice the things that people see about you are:
- Your Photo
- Your Name
- Your Headline
- Who You Know in Common
- Whether or Not You Wrote a Bespoke Connection Request Message
They don’t see the name of your company or your job title – they only see what you put in your headline. Which is why getting that right is an essential first step in building your reach on LinkedIn.
Step 2 – Sending Bespoke Connection Requests That are Written to Spark Conversations
This second step is key for two reasons. Firstly, LinkedIn’s own data shows that a connection request is more likely to be accepted if it’s accompanied by a bespoke note rather than just the standard LinkedIn message. But the second reason is gold-dust. Imagine if every 100 new connections prompted 10 people to have a conversation with you, enquire about your services, ask for a call, agree to meet… You can see how the simple act of growing your network would then consistently contribute to you generating new leads.
Achieving this is all about writing an initial connection request message that prompts the recipient to interact with you when they connect, ideally in a way that gets you talking about something that would then naturally lead into a conversation about what you would really like to be talking to them about. It’s important not to talk about what your company does or enquire whether they need help with XYZ. That’s too salesy and will make people clam up.
My advice is, don’t pitch what your business does or try to get a phone call scheduled or anything else overtly salesy. Instead, give people a reason it’d be valuable to connect and sow the seeds for a conversation to get started; this prompts lots of people to write back and tell you about the challenges they’ve been facing – or even to ask for a call directly. Getting this messaging right is obviously a key determinant of the number of conversations you’ll subsequently have. So experiment – and monitor the effectiveness of each of your connection messages.
Step 3 – Consistently Connect with your Target Audience
This part is not rocket science at all. The number of conversations you’ll spark is directly related to the number of new connections you make. So it needs to become a part of your daily routine to find and connect with more of your ideal prospects on LinkedIn – or if you can’t afford the time for this, you need to outsource or delegate this task to someone to action on your behalf.
Step 4 – Nurture Your Leads by Following up with Valuable Information that Sparks a Conversation
A big mistake I see business people make on LinkedIn (and social media more generally) is to go straight in for the kill. Once your ideal prospect has connected with you (be they a potential hire, client, investor or whatever), you must resist the temptation to dive straight in and tell them about what you do in an attempt to secure a call or meeting. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of these types of approaches, you’ll know how much of a turn-off they are.
Instead, what I recommend you focus on doing is finding ways you can make your next messages valuable to these people – ideally in a way that sparks a conversation. For example you might:
- Reach out to them to see if they’re going to be attending an event that’s taking place in their region that you thought would be beneficial to them and that you’re considering attending (great way of getting meetings)
- See if they’d be open to jumping on a call to contribute insights to a blog post you’re writing (great way of getting onto calls)
- Invite them to attend the next business breakfast or launch event you are hosting (great way of getting face time with potential clients)
This list is by no means exhaustive, but the common thread is that you’re starting a conversation with your audience of prospects in a way that isn’t at all salesy.
A Consistent Flow of Inbound Leads
If we follow the process of the social media lead generation program through, what we see is that it produces a consistent growth in the connections you have with your ideal prospects; and that a consistent proportion of those new connections will go on to book in for a call, attend an event, request a demo, etc. This is just one example and, depending on your business, a similar approach can be crafted for sites such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. as well as variations in your approach to LinkedIn. But we can see example approach is successful because it meets all our original criteria:
- Must be achievable – we’ve picked a lead generation outcome that is eminently achievable.
- Should fit existing processes – we’ve had the social media leads dovetail into existing processes in the business.
- Should be scalable – we’ve chosen outcomes where the business can easily handle a significant increase in interest.
- Should be measurable – we’ve built our approach on connection request and messaging processes that can be measured to make the ongoing outcome of the work predictable to extrapolate.
- Ideally supports A/B testing – we’re doing the same things over and over again, so the wording we’re using and the offers we’re experimenting with can be tested and perfected over time.
- Is timeless – we’ve chosen a strategy that will be as relevant to the business years from now as it is today, so our learning and continuous improvement will feed into ever greater success for our social media work.
I hope this lengthy post has given you the belief that social media lead generation program can become a recurring theme for your business – and has furthered your understanding of how to make this work in your business.
The original version of this article was first published on Social Hire.