One of the key benefits of monitoring the social media activity surrounding your brand, competitors, and industry is that, when done right, you can identify potential customers and foster relationships with them to turn them into actual, long-term customers. If the process of lead generation and nurturing through social media monitoring seems a bit iffy to you, though, take this post as clarification.
The nuances of relationship building will play a huge role in how successful you are with this tack, but if you’ve got that part down, what’s left is establishing a process for identifying people and businesses that are discussing a problem that your services or products can help them solve. We wrote a white paper about listening at the point of need some time back, and the tenets in this white paper still ring true. We’ll review some of those tenets here, and also add to the discussion.
The Search is On
To make the most of your social media lead generation and nurturing efforts, start at the beginning: conversation searching. There are a few things you can do in your search efforts to begin honing in on the “right” conversations no matter what monitoring tool you’re using.
Most of the social media monitoring platforms available run on keyword searches. Do your homework and identify a decent list of keyword terms and phrases that are used in discussions in the industry you serve. Don’t just guess these terms; take the time to find out what they are. You might even consider surveying your customers to discover specific terminology they’re using in the online social space.
Once compiled, this list is a great starting point, but you’re not done yet. When creating your search profile, include terms that you would see related to someone voicing an issue or need that you might be able to help with. Spend some time manually searching through industry forum and community postings to get an idea of how those “point of need” communications are structured. Without those key terms identifying a need, you’re going to aggregate a greater number of conversations irrelevant to your lead generation efforts.
Be aware that your search profile will probably need to be tweaked and cleaned up a couple times before it delivers exactly what you want to see. Don’t give up on amending your search, as this is where it all starts.
Jackpot! Now What?
Getting involved in every conversation related to your brand or the industry you serve won’t be the tack that makes your lead generation and nurturing efforts here successful. Truth is, not every conversation is going to demand a response from you. Those that do, though – the conversations that specifically request input about products or advice about solving a problem – are opportunities to share information about your products or services, advice you may be able to offer, and show that you want to help.
It’s important to remember that hard selling on the social web is generally useless; badly timed pitches and interjections do little more than offend and alienate the people you’re talking to. Get involved in these conversations by showing interest in the topic of discussion. Ask questions to find out the root of the problem being voiced, and share thoughts before bringing up the possibility that your product or service is an option to consider.
Nurturing and Follow-Up
Okay. You’ve properly defined your search, you’re getting involved in the right conversations and seeing interest, and now…you’ve got to establish a process for follow-up.
Many social media monitoring platforms, including Radian6, offer integrations with some of the top CRM tools around. Create a process for tagging and filtering the leads you’ve identified on social media outlets so those leads are fed to your sales team for proper follow-up. That process should include tracking conversations that have been had up to that point (and afterward, really), classification by source, and any additional information your sales team has deemed pertinent to their follow-up efforts.
In some instances, your outreach efforts with a potential lead will sit in the bounds of social media for some time before paying off. In those cases, continue offering advice and answering questions, and keep up with their circumstances. Lead nurturing is just that – keeping an eye on your leads and interacting with them to show you want to help and that you’re interested in building a relationship. On the back end, you have to formulate an internal process for follow-up that incorporates your social media-based interactions.
Have you had success generating and nurturing leads in social media channels? If so, how? What tactics have you found successful? If not, what problems are you running into? Share in the comments!