For small and mid-market B2B companies, generating enough quality leads has always been one of their top barriers to growth. And while more executives realize that the web offers tremendous opportunity, the truth is that many owners and executives feel challenged when trying to figure out how to generate quality B2B leads online.
Even as businesses begin to jump on the online bandwagon and realize the need to create content, stop focusing on themselves and to be helpful, they’re confused and overwhelmed about how to drive traffic and engagement to their content.
It’s then when I introduce the two words that seem to paralyze most SME executives – social media. While there are still far more teenagers posting selfies on social media platforms than businesses that are driving real measurable ROI from their efforts, social media is becoming increasingly important to making B2B sales growth predictable and sustainable.
Where Decision-Makers Hang Out
According to Hubspot, social media is the leading emerging channel for lead generation. Social media marketing is the first step to attract more customers. While Facebook and Twitter are what typically come to mind when SME executives think about social social media, they are just two of the many platforms available. Blogging, YouTube and, the biggest platform for business professionals, LinkedIn are all important parts of a business’s social media initiative.
Imagine a networking event designed for business owners and business professionals with 140 million attendees and it’s growing by the day. Would you want to be there?
The truth is that very few organizations are fully utilizing the potential of LinkedIn. LinkedIn represents an ideal platform for beginning the B2B lead generation process. With increasing frequency, LinkedIn is becoming the “sidewalk” to your home page, as prospects increasingly view your (and your salespeople’s) LinkedIn profile before going to your website.
How can you use LinkedIn effectively?
- First, make sure you have an up-to-date personal and company page. Ensure that your employees profiles are connected to your company page as well, and that their headlines and summaries align with your company’s message.
- Express how your company or you as a professional are useful to others. I find most people are too concerned with their own needs and “we-do’s,” which is a downfall to generating engagement and leads.
- Create an eye-catching headline or call to action to describe you and your company. Your headline is your elevator speech. It should tell people why you and your company are someone to follow.
- Share your knowledge and engage. Share the content your company creates and other content you find valuable on a consistent and ongoing basis. Be relevant and remember your profile is your calling card.
- Engage and listen. Just as you would run away from the salesperson who shows up at the networking event with the intent of giving you their card and talking all about themselves; if all you take the same approach online, you too will be quickly ignored.
Does it take time and effort to succeed with social media? Absolutely. But remember that if you’re not participating there’s a very good chance your competition is.
What does it take to turn social media into business leads?
- Take time to develop a clear strategy. Be clear on how you and members of your company will engage and the types of content will you share.
- Create clear measurements as to how you will measure success. We call this a service level agreement and it’s critical to a successful implementation.
- Be prepared to fail. Successful social media reminds me a lot of when Thomas Edison, after 2,000 attempts to develop a light bulb filament said, “I did not fail – I successfully found 2,000 ways that did not work.”
Your first attempts at social media will fail. You won’t drive the type of engagement you want. The content you’re convinced people will love will fall flat. But, the content that you thought wouldn’t be interesting will be a home run.
The reason that measuring your results is important is to support the learning process. Don’t engage for 30 days, look at your measurements and decide it’s not working. Use the numbers to constantly make adjustments.
- Create content to be shared. Inbound Marketing calls out to those seeking answers. Creating and distributing content will attract the interest of your ideal prospects.
You have an immense opportunity to participate and engage with purpose. It takes creativity and discipline. The reward lies in opening up new avenues of business and increasing the predictability of your sales growth.