It's time to roll up your sleeves.
This week we'll offer viable social media sites and platforms you can use to implement a lead generation strategy. (We'll be sharing the same type of information for the other two example social media strategies—customer service improvement and networking—in the weeks to come).
Disclaimer: What follows are only suggested sites and/or platforms, and ways of using them. There may be other platforms that can work just as well—or even better—for your business and needs. All sites and platforms mentioned below work toward the goal of increasing sales by helping to generate more leads.
Facebook allows you to create a page for your business which fans (or users) can ‘like’ and in turn receive your business’ news, updates, events, and other information.
When your news posts to a user’s wall, his/her “friends” will be able to see it as well, thus getting you in front of an audience you may not normally have access to.
Facebook is the most popular social media tool with businesses, with 92% saying it’s their favorite (Twitter follows at 82%).* While in some respects that’s a lot of competition, remember that it’s also a lot of potential eyes on your information.
Get started by creating a page for your business. You can access Facebook’s Ads and Business Solutions section to get help with your page setup, learn about best practices, read success stories of other businesses, and more.
Consider these ways of using your Facebook page:
- Share fun facts, figures, or statistics
- Offer coupons or discounts (if possible)
- Come up with contests or polls and encourage your fans to participate (tip: shorter-run contests and polls are easier to manage and typically more effective)
- Share photos of your business’ presence at local events
- Give updates on new products or services
There are lots of ways to use your page, and part of the fun is figuring out what your fans respond to.
Your investment: No cost to sign up; time involved to post to your page and maintain your account.
YouTube allows you to upload videos from and about your business in multiple categories ranging from Autos & Vehicles, Entertainment, Gaming, How-to & Style, Nonprofits & Activism, Pets & Animals, Science & Technology, and others.
With literally billions of viewers, there is something for everyone on YouTube. It provides “a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe,” and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers.**
The best part is that you don’t have to be a professional to produce and upload a video. With a simple video camera and a script, you can put together a quality clip.
Get started by opening an account. Then once you’re familiar with the platform, post a simple how-to video, such as:
- how your product or service works
- specific or key aspects of your product or service
- general advice or tips on a topic within your niche or industry
To make YouTube really work for you, it’s important to use relevant keywords in the Tags section when uploading your videos. That way potential customers searching for products and services like yours will be more likely to find your videos, watch them, and share them with others.
Check out the Help section and YouTube Essentials to find answers to all your questions, understand technical requirements, learn about tools and features, and get tips about how to personalize your videos.
Your investment: No cost to sign up; time involved to create and upload videos as well as maintain your account; some cost needed to purchase any necessary video camera equipment.
Pinterest is an invite-only site that allows you to create your own board (think of it as an online bulletin board) where you can “pin” pictures and videos of interest and inspiration. Users can follow anyone else’s boards or any brand.
Visually appealing images make an impact. Users can often “repin” images they like hundreds of times—and all with links back to the original sources’ websites. So while Pinterest does not yet offer users a way to purchase items, the potential of getting a lot of attention on your product or brand is huge.
Get started by requesting an invite from Pinterest, or you can be invited by someone who is already a part of Pinterest. Once you receive the invite, you can register through Facebook Connect or Twitter. Learn all about Pinterest and what you can do with it on their Getting Started page.
Once you’ve created your board, try the following:
- pin quality photos of your product
- pin photos or videos of what inspires you and your business
- select appropriate categories and include relevant keywords in your descriptive text
- always include your location and website address
- follow other brands and businesses that you admire, so they are likely to follow you in return
And be sure to visit Pinterest’s Goodies page to get Follow and Pin It buttons to add to your website, which will encourage your online audience to follow you on Pinterest and re-pin your images.
Your investment: No cost to sign up; time involved to maintain your account as well as upload images and other assets.
An older mainstay in the world of social media, a blog is a place for you to write posts that share knowledge and information about your field or industry.
Blogs are a great channel to embed other multimedia assets like photos, videos and infographics and readers can make comments on your blog posts which you can respond back to—therefore starting a dialogue. And those same readers can often turn into customers when the information you provide is insightful, relevant, new, or forward-thinking.
Blogging sits behind Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as the fourth most favorite social media tool of businesses*. But don’t let its position in the list fool you. Blogging is a place to impart what you know and earn credibility with both potential customers as well as thought leaders in your industry. When you establish your expertise, you represent your business well and therefore pique the interest of others.
Get started by setting up a blog with one of the major blogging services: Blogger, Wordpress, or TypePad. All three offer design templates, content management systems for posting and editing your content, and the ability to use keywords to make your posts search-engine friendly. (Other blogging services may fit your needs and budget just as well, so keep your options open and do the research.)
Once your blog is set up with a design branded to your business, consider writing about the following:
- the impact of new technology on your business, products, or services
- opinions on any legislation that affects your business, products, or services
- customer success stories or valuable lessons learned
- human-interest tidbits from within your industry
- facts, figures, and statistics about your industry as a whole
- any other educated opinions or wise perspectives about your industry as a whole
Blog posts have extra impact when you can think like your customer and tag your posts with the kind of keywords they would use when searching online for a business, product, or service like yours.
And always make sure to provide a way for your readers to comment (you can approve comments to weed out anything inappropriate). Then comment back to keep the conversation going.
Publishing posts on a regular basis is key to maintaining an audience and will keep them coming back for more. Start out posting at least once a week and once you get into a groove, try to increase the number of posts and continue engaging with your readers.
Your investment: Some cost involved depending on the type of blog you set up as well as any hosting fees; time involved to write and comment back on posts.
The information we gave you here should give you a running start to implementing a lead generation strategy. Where applicable, include a short form to allow interested readers to raise their hand and let you know they’d like to learn more. If they share some contact information – even simply an email address – it usually means they see value in your content, have developed a level of trust and are giving you permission to engage.
If your strategy is all about customer service, be sure to read next week’s article “Which Social Media Sites Should I Use for My Strategy? Part Two: Customer Service Improvement.”
Once we’ve covered Part Three: Networking, we’ll close out this entire series by talking about what to measure and how to determine your level of success.
*Source: http://www.mbaprograms.org/news/social-media-corporate.html, June 12, 2012
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