Ways to leverage Social Media to deliver more leads

social media leadsSocial media has become an essential buzz word in marketing and a very important tool for brand awareness but how do you convert Twitter followers and Facebook fans into paying customers? It really depends on your brand and finding the right marketing mix for your brand and company are imperative if you wish to be successful in this area. Each brand will have different challenges which means that  your strategy has to make sense for your brand.

Often times, people ask me what I charge for social media networking on behalf of a small business and every time, I have to say, “That depends”. This isn’t because I don’t know what my own rates are and there isn’t a value attached to what I do but rather because each brand is different and while one brand may get great engagement from 2 posts a week and basic management and monitoring, another brand may benefit more from more hands-on interaction with daily or even multiple daily posts on their social networking sites.

That said, there are some generic tips that can be used to increase your engagement and as a result turn fans and followers into brand ambassadors who will not only endorse your brand but will also be a paying customer.

1.     Use Search to your advantage

With so many social media network messages sent out into cyberspace every day, there is plenty chance that your company or brand may being talked about without anyone using your handle or hashtag. It is important to be proactive when managing your company’s social media profile. If there are conversations going on, you can always join in, offer advice, answer questions and improve overall brand interaction with your potential customers.

You can also search according to your industry so you can be aware of what people are saying, what they do like and don’t like, which can help you with your marketing techniques for new product/service launches in the future.

Another way of searching is to search for your competitors, monitor who is interacting with them and communicate with those potential customers as well. Make your searches relevant to your business and services and approach potential customers with real human interactions and not just sales speak and you are bound to convert a couple of those users into real customers.

2. A Picture is worth 1000 words

Photos drive double the engagement that text posts do on Facebook so take some pics and connect with fans that way. You are marketing to your fans without annoying them because they are actively engaging with your post in a positive way. You can gain feedback, and the pics need not be product focussed. You could post literally anything and you will find that you will get more engagement as long as the picture can be identified with the brand in some way.

3.     Give stuff away

Internet users LOVE to enter competitions, especially when there is a great prize to be won. It’s a great way to boost followers as well as engagement. Be careful about what you are offering so you can be sure you are attracting the right types of followers.

Build in actions that allow fans to share to their social networks, which will increase virality and stay true to your brand. Make sure the way in which you are running your contest fits with the platform you are using to run the contest on. So this will mean a change in the way you present the contest on each social media network. Make sure your prize attracts people from the same demographic of your target market and that your average customer will appreciate the prize.

4. Use Platforms Exclusively

Make sure your message is unique to each platform. You will gain more followers on each platform that way and you will be able to more easily promote your product to more people if you have a growing following of people.

If you have specific marketing messages or offers that you only offer on Facebook and nowhere else you are reinforcing your investment in the channel.

5. Get more Personal

If you speak to your customers in a personal way that builds the relationship and creates real brand loyalty, you have a higher chance of converting your fan into a paying customer. No one likes being the recipient of a mass message. It’s important to try to humanize your brand so people don’t feel like they are just a number.

Live chats are another great way to offer interaction and engagement with your fans. Also, ignoring negative comments is an absolute no-no. Rather address the complaint and you will be making use of an opportunity to convert an unhappy customer into a brand ambassador who has confidence that your company will take every opportunity to ensure quality service provision.

Is Facebook the right social media tool for your small business?

facebook for small businessesMany small business owners have been hesitant to take the plunge and develop their social media presence as besides being time consuming, it also requires determining whether or not a social media network makes sense for the business itself. One needs to look at it realistically so that the business’ social media presence can be built up and developed into a network of consistent readers.

So how does one determine whether a particular network is relevant to your small business?

Let’s take Facebook as an example:

Any small business owner will tell you that they are extremely busy as a sole business owner doesn’t always have the staff available to dedicate their time to marketing activities and most of these activities are slipped in between meetings and actually getting the work done. Essentially, the small business owner has to stop ‘real work’ in order to undertake marketing activities.

1.     Is your Audience present?

The first question that needs to be asked is whether your audience is present on Facebook, and since Facebook is one of the most used social media networks, you will probably find that at least a part of your audience is available on Facebook.

2.     Do you know how the social media network works?

The next question is whether you understand how the network works, what content works better on the network and what kind of interactions your audience will most appreciate from your business. The best way to gain this understanding is to actually spend some time on the network, such as Facebook, in order to get a good idea of how it works and what type of messages other similar brands are putting out there and what type of response they are getting from their audiences. Join a few well known pages, and even some of the pages of your competitors so that you can get the understanding you need in order to target your audience in the future.

3.     What are the benefits of using the social media network for business?

Before spending time on something like social media marketing, one should have a clear idea of the outcomes one can expect and what it will entail in order to put time and effort into a social media network such as Facebook. Some of those outcomes may include building awareness within a certain industry, staying at the forefront of your target market’s minds, being able to communicate in real time and to spark word-of-mouth recommendations via internet marketing.

4.     Can you commit to real interactions on the social media network?

Facebook and most social media networks are not simply one way conduits for delivering your marketing messages to your audience. They simply don’t work that way and treating it as such will mean that you will lose half your audience before lunch. You can’t simply post sales pitches and hope to gather an audience. Real interaction is required and if you can’t devote the care and commitment to post content daily – such as updates, pictures and videos – and to ensure that when others post on your wall that it is not spam but relevant to your business, then this may not be a job for you to undertake on your own. One needs to ensure that when a user comments that you do at least check these daily, and respond to them timeously – this doesn’t mean that one has to become a complete slave to the social networking platform, but it does mean that a certain allotted amount of time needs to be set aside on a regular basis. The important thing is consistency and your connections knowing that you are indeed available to them.

The important thing with regards to social media, is establishing a presence on a social network that will make sense for your business or brand. If it is on a network where you simply don’t find your audience, it is a waste of time and can be potentially damaging to your brand instead.

Delays with Facebook’s Timeline Rollout

While we were expecting the rollout of Facebook’s new Timeline feature, which would allow users to have the story of their lives, in chronological order laid out on one page, the social network announced that there would be a delay to the rollout. A spokesperson of the site insists, though, that it is not a result of the lawsuit that was filed against the network.

A Chicago based company, Timelines.com, filed a trademark infringement suit last week in federal court. The lawsuit came a week or so after the new feature was announced by Facebook. Timelines.com enables people to collaboratively record, discover and share history and the company claims that Facebook’s Timeline threatens the site’s existence and that the feature infringes on Timelines’ federally registered trademarks and causes confusion as to the source of the services offered to users of the Internet.

Facebook’s Timeline offering and its misdirection of users attempting to access Timeline’s offering is intended to prevent Internet users from accessing information about Timelines.com and get them to use Facebook’s offering instead. The request for a temporary restraining order to stop Facebook from going ahead with Timeline was rejected by the court.

Mashable has reported that the launch date of Timelines has been moved from September 9 to October 6. However, a spokesperson has clearly stated that an delay would not be a result of the lawsuit that is pending. There are other challenges being faced with Timelines as well as the new Ticker feature.

The Federal Trade Commission has been asked by The Electronic Privacy Information Center, ACLU as well as other privacy and civil rights groups to look into Facebook’s practices for information-gathering for Timeline and Ticker to ensure that the changes are consistent with the policies and representations that were in place when consumers provided their personal information. This is to ensure that the do not constitute unfair or deceptive trade practices in violation of consumer protection law within the United States.

This should be a concern for all Facebook users, whether living in the United States or not so the outcome of that investigation should be interesting.