A whooping 85% B2B marketers consider lead generation as their key goal for 2016 (Content Marketing Institute, 2016). And it isn’t just random leads, but over 87% marketers are now qualifying leads by quality.
Yet, from author Judy trying to get publisher leads for her book to the corner store small business owner trying to find partners, few people have a cohesive strategy to generate leads online. In this post I’ll discuss some of the problems you may be facing as a business owner trying to use social media and what fixes you need to succeed.
Stop wasting your time on social media. Generate leads instead- this is what you may be doing wrong:
You have no goals for your social media program
This isn’t a gimmick. Only 32% marketers in 2016 had a documented content marketing (including lead generation) strategy. If you’re using social media to catch eyeballs (or follow them) without explicit intent, you’re clearly lagging behind.
Setting up SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) goals is essential before you start investing in a hundred social campaigns. It happens all too often: you think that what’s a $5 worth, and promote your Facebook post with no goals. Not surprisingly it may lead to a few likes and engagement without any real business impact.
How to solve this problem: Do not sabotage your own chances of success. Like Simon Sinek says, start with a why. Here’s what a simple social media program needs to answer:
- Why are you on social media? [Example: To find publishers for my book]
- What are your specific objectives on social media? [Example: To get new leads for publishers and agents via social media platforms. I need to reach the right audience and convert them into meaningful contacts]
- Which social media channels will you use? Why? [Example: For my book, I will use Twitter as a channel to connect and get 10 new agents or publishers interested in my book. I will use Twitter because it has a large reach in the publishing and media industry, and my target audience generally posts about new authors or campaigns on Twitter ]
- What is your social media goal for this quarter? (Use S.M.A.R.T goals) [Example: I will attract 20 new publishing contacts for my Book this month]
- How will you achieve your goals? (Be specific) [Example: I will run Twitter ads worth $ 60 per month that represents X% of my total expected quarterly sales after the book is up for sale. I will also provide free samples of my book chapter to agents who can review my book and share it with their communities and contacts.]
- How will you measure success? (Identify metrics and KPIs) [ Example: I will measure the overall engagement (likes, clicks and shares) and the overall leads generated in terms of getting email addresses or phone numbers]
Now once you have these specific questions answered, start documenting it for reference. Ensure whenever you run a campaign you write down these exact goals and ideas before you make an investment. This allows you to come back to your goals and see the impact you could or could not create.
Even if you fail, you get an idea into what you could do differently the next time. A/B test your creatives, ads and landing pages. See what works best till you find the perfect solution for your goals!
Expert advice: Author of the Content formula and content marketing expert, Michael Brenner talks about getting beyond vanity metrics and shares his advice for brands:
“Most people start by talking about page views, social shares, and clicks. But it’s important to first tie your content performance to the business case that got you started in the first place.
For awareness and thought leadership content, it’s important to go beyond traffic metrics to look at engagement rates. Anyone can buy traffic. But engagement is the key in today’s attention-starved world filled with so many choices. For lead-generation content, it’s important to look beyond leads to measure both the quality of the leads (conversion rates) as well as engagement.”
You don’t know why you’re on a social platform
Many people join new platforms because as a me-too strategy – they heard of it in media or someone they know is using the platform. And that’s recipe for true disaster. Social media is NOT free. To be able to get leads for your business and have a realistic chance of success, you need to follow your customers. Do not spread yourself thin, but think before you join a new platform.
How to solve this problem: Ask yourself these questions before joining ANY platform:
- Why do you want to join this new platform? [Describe business and platform goals]
- What is the demographic profile of this social platform? [Example: Most of the audience that uses this platform is in the 14-34 age group and skews female. It’s largely popular in the US]
- How do you plan to use this platform? [ Example: I will grow a following, increase the clicks onto my content, and lead fans to landing pages where they can learn about my book, and ultimately buy it.]
- How much time will you invest on this platform? [ Example: 20 hours per week]
- How much will this platform cost? [ Time investment & Cost= Setting up cost + content creation and distribution + advertising cost + engagement tactics + measurement and reporting + quarterly planning ]
- How do you expect this platform to help you attain your business goals? How much revenue can you attribute to this platform?
- What kind of content does your target audience engage with?
- Are your competitors on this platform? What does their audience engage with the most?
You can never attain social media zen unless you act according to the expectations of the platform. Copy pasting content from one platform to another (in the hope that it’s free) is the easiest way to failure.
A social platform needs timely strategic investment and will not deliver unless you drive it with intent and clarity. The audience goals and experiences on each platform vary and you need to understand these nuances as a brand.
Expert advice: Social media guru Ken Herron talks about this issue of spreading yourself thin for each platform and shares his advice for brands:
“I often hear the excuse that “we can’t be on all of the different social networks.” The good news is that you don’t have to, you only have to be on the social networks your customers are on. As different demographics heavily favorite different networks and platforms — Millennials? Snapchat. College Students? Instagram. Women? Pinterest. B2B? LinkedIn. Seniors? Facebook — you can identify the networks you need to be on by who your customers are. If you don’t happen to know which social networks your customers are spending their time on most, ask them!”
You’re not monitoring how your leads behave
As a brand owner, every day is like war. There are a hundred campaigns, a bazillion content pieces, and team members to work with. The easiest way to drown yourself in this clutter is by using poorly designed systems and tools. Say no to things that complicate your work life. Focus instead on how you can better engage your future customers.
How to solve this problem: Listen to your customers and leads and use tools that help you track your goals and also those that integrate across systems. Having one tool for publishing, another for lead management and yet another for team discussions can mean you’re stuck between emails all day long. You need a cumulative brand view and also work across departments for the best data-based decisions.
Here are some examples of tools that are helpful:
- Team collaboration/ work distribution/ creation: Many tools allow you to collaborate including Asana, Slack, Email, Google documents, Yammer etc.
- Social media sharing and publishing: Buffer, HootSuite, ShareThis, AddThis, Shareaholic, TweetDeck etc. you may have used many standalone tools
- Analytics and listening: SEMRush, Mention, SocialMention, Google Analytics, SumAll, native analytics on each platform etc. could be your options
- Customer relationship management tools: Sales Force, Zoho, Google spreadsheet, MailChimp (for email leads) etc. could be options
- Integrated tools: Zoho is the first (and so far only) player to enter the market with an integrated tool that connects CRM, social media, social media analytics, publishing and sharing all on one platform. Depending on your needs this could be a powerful all-in-one integrated play. It also allows you the ability to instantly chat with your team and collaborate directly on the platform.
Expert Advice: Social media star and a senior marketing leader at Zoho, Meera Sapra talks about the benefits of integrated tools and a future vision of a business operating system for brands:
“If you have a business yourself, you know that you can’t have people using different tools that don’t talk to one another, and data doesn’t flow seamlessly from one app to the other. It’s very inconvenient. All this will change in the future because people will start seeing the benefit of using a business operating system to manage everything that their business does. We believe this (integration between social media and CRM system) can help customers generate leads in many new ways and they can also track revenue from their social efforts. For example, if somebody likes your posts, they should be added as a lead in your CRM system. Or if someone comments on your posts with a certain keyword they can be added as a lead into your CRM system. It links social media with your CRM and more importantly with your business goals. Most business owners who use (standalone) tools have absolutely no way to track how social media contributes to their business and whether or not it adds any value to their business.”
What challenges have you been dealing with? Please share your tips and experiences with me in the comments or directly on Twitter.