From Likes to Leads: Five Steps to Social Lead Generation

Does the name ‘John Wanamaker’ ring a bell?

Probably not, but around the turn of the last century, he was a brilliant marketer and founder of a department store chain. He pioneered merchandising, was the first to add price tags to items, and introduced the money-back guarantee on purchases.

But perhaps more than anything, old Johnny W. is best known for his humorous take on his investments in marketing. You know the quote: Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.

Which Half is Social?

Fast-forward to today, and the truth is that many social marketers likely ponder similar issues. Over 150 years later, marketers and communicators are still wrestling with what we today call ‘attribution’.

On one hand, it feels great to measure success based on the number of fans, followers and subscribers a brand has. After all, views, likes, shares, and tweets are clear indications that your audience appreciates what you have to share. There’s definite value in creating brand awareness and affinity.

But on the other hand, this isn’t 2010 anymore. CMOs are under increasing pressure to show demonstrable ROI (or attribution). Every marketer must now correlate social marketing with the bottom line. Are those Facebook likes translating into web form completes? Are Twitter campaigns reducing acquisition costs of search engine marketing? What happens after somebody shares your blog posts on LinkedIn?

Just ask any sales exec and they’ll be quick to tell you what they want from social. Quality leads.

Driving Bottom Line Value from Social

Generating leads from social marketing is the new measure of effectiveness, but the majority of organizations fall short. While 83% of marketers use content to generate leads, a mere 21% are able to correlate ROI against the goal.   

So what’s a marketer to do? Let’s check out five social tactics that can help you delight your sales team and measure the value of your investments.  

1. Listen for the Right Signals

The key to being a great conversationalist is to be a great listener, right? Social marketing is no different.

Of course you want to deliver great content, but social listening is a short path to lead generation. Not only does it enable you to discover what topics are generating interest and what customers are saying about your brand, it equips you to hone in on key ‘buy words’ that indicate an active interest in finding solutions pertinent to your products and services. You’ll need to adjust your listening filters based on your specific situation, but imagine the value of detecting associated terms like ROI, RFP, considering, opinions, evaluation, buying, review, etc.

2. Pinpoint Messages Based on Insights

Next, leverage the insights you’ve gained through social listening to join the conversation. Make that research actionable. Monitor where conversations are happening, and align content to topics generating the most interest.

For the best results, apply social insights to drive broader marketing decisions. One quick win opportunity is to target specific customers with 1-to-1 social advertising on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. Be sure each call to action enables you to track the prospect to the next phase—this is not the time for fleeting marketing messages.

3. Connect Social IDs to CRM Records

Associating social identities to CRM records enables you to continue the conversation on other channels like email. The best approaches use every customer interaction—regardless of channel or stage in the customer lifecycle—as an opportunity to connect the dots. Imagine a day where your marketing can be “channel-agnostic” and technology helps to determine the best way to reach a prospect at a particular time. That day starts now with identity consolidation.

Customers are accustomed to providing an email address or phone number as a unique identifier. Are you requesting social handles as a standard part of every interaction you have with them? How about your peers in support? Or better yet, even earlier—do your online purchase forms include fields for social identifiers? Your product registration process? Webinar registration forms? Surveys?

Be sure to identify all critical touch points throughout your customers’ journeys. It will likely reveal new opportunities to connect social identities to data already stored in your CRM platform. 

4. Carefully Manage Sales Expectations

It’s not uncommon for social leads to meet some initial resistance from the sales team. Because the strategy is unfamiliar, there’s a tendency to perceive the source as less valuable than more traditional types of leads.

That’s a dangerous assumption. Consider that only 27% of all leads—regardless of how they were generated—ever receive any type of follow-up from sales (and most of those don’t receive any within the first 48 hours). Talk about a negative impact on ROI!

Marketing will have a hard time changing that culture: It has to come from sales leadership. As it relates to social leads, let sales leadership know what they can expect from your team in terms of volume and quality, and gain agreement on SLAs for follow-up.

It’s also a good idea to provide some coaching on how to best follow-up on social leads. They should be handled differently than other qualified leads. The chances are that you’ve carefully curated the interest over time, and a heavy-handed response from sales can quickly unravel what had been a ‘soft sell’ up to that point.

5. Measure the Results

Last but certainly not least, carefully track the results of your social efforts. Avoid the temptation to solely use marketing metrics. Instead, speak salespeople’s language—analyze and share results based on sales-centric measures like number and value of leads, opportunities and closes.

For added validity, be sure you’re able to answer the proverbial ‘as compared to what?’ question in reports. With social lead generation being new, it’s easy to classify it as a new sales tool with no peers (and thus no comparison). But the budgets, resources and marketing efforts could be spent doing something else.

And of course, be honest with your reporting, even if you don’t see immediate efficacy. Driving leads through social can take time, but few doubt that building 1-to-1 social relationships will continue to become ever-more critical.

Do More with Social Marketing

If social isn’t a critical component of your lead generation strategy, now is the time to start. For more insights, watch this recording of ‘How Salesforce Uses Social for Community Management’. You’ll hear first-hand how our team of social experts listen, publish and engage with their online communities.