With its low cost, deep reach, and large scope, social media is irresistible to marketers. Unfortunately, many B2B prospects who are otherwise active on social media have no trouble resisting even the most appealing calls to action on these channels. What’s the disconnect between the effort B2B businesses put into social media marketing and the results they get? How can “likes” matter more to your marketing campaigns and pay real dividends?
What Can Social Media Do for You?
One of the biggest issues companies have when investing in social media is managing their expectations. They know there’s an audience of millions, they have a strong marketing message, and they believe it’s enough to connect the two and let magic happen. When they get a few desultory clicks instead of the torrent of organic traffic they hoped for, they disengage – and that’s where they miss out on the real beauty of social media as a lead gen engine.
Social media is one of many marketing tools, and like any tool, it has specific uses for which it excels. You wouldn’t use a hammer to turn a screw or a screwdriver to pound in a nail; similarly, you wouldn’t use social media solely as an ad platform. The best use of social media is right there in the name: socializing. It’s a place to carry on conversations with leads, not advertise to a silent but eager audience just waiting to hear your latest message about yourself. When you think of social channels as arenas for brand maintenance rather than as direct lead gen tools, their value becomes clearer.
The next time you’re on a busy street, stop for a moment and look up. You’re almost certain to get at least a couple of other people to tilt their heads up too. They want to see what caught your eye. Social proof, the natural tendency of people to pay attention to whatever other people are already noticing, is powerful but subtle. You can’t force it to happen by sending top-down social media signals asking for leads’ interest, but you can be interesting enough in your own right to earn a share of influence.
The real lead gen value of social media isn’t typically in what you post; it’s in what you get to hear from your prospects. Staying tuned in on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other channels opens a window on your leads and what they need from you. In talking about what they want help with or what they enjoy, your leads give you clues about how you can be uniquely relevant to them when you do engage in more active lead gen activities. It’s hard to communicate your value in 140 characters or fewer, but it’s easy to learn what your prospects value.
Social media does pay lead gen dividends, but often indirectly. Think of it as the attractive setting at a restaurant, the scene that sets the mood rather than the main course. By treating your social media channels as brand maintenance and listening tools, you gain a great deal of insight into what will motivate your leads.
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