Mastering social media for lead generation is just a matter of time. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, About.me, the emerging Google +, and the 'so hot right now' Pinterest; with so many free and simple tools it seems silly not to consider social media for digital sales techniques. I know, social media is usually considered the domain of the marketing crew, but it can be a really powerful platform for lead generation and follow-up information. It also gives the sales crew 'touch of a button' network expansions and the ability to interact with current customers for feedback, as well as potential customers and leads. I think it would be safe to say: get social!
Let's start with the main platforms and work our way outwards from there. With 850 million users, Facebook is considered the 'holy grail' of social platforms. With astounding global reach and a personal feel, Facebook is always a great place to start. Although, the current Timeline (Facebook's new format) and Ticker (the real-time updates on the top right corner from your network) have made Facebook a bit more confusing. They also like to hide the security and fine print deep within the website, so if you want to manipulate these features you are going to have to be a patient; keep clicking. Also, remember that whatever you post on Facebook is their property. If you have photos that you do not want others to use, etc., I would recommend not posting them (although, this is rarely the case when it comes to brands, the more sharing the better!). To start with Facebook, you are going to need a company page. This can be quick and easy. But, do not be fooled by the speediness of setup, as the most important part is maintenance (and, really the only use case for sales)-which brings me right into Twitter.
Twitter is a great platform for lead generation. It allows you to broadcast information, as well as connect with specific individuals (and for marketers: influencers). I segway into Twitter as a great thing to do on your Facebook page is to connect it directly to Twitter, with the Twitter app found through Facebook search. This way you can update in one place, while keeping both updated with a continuous stream of information. One thing to note though, if you choose this route, is that videos and pictures will show up as links. You need to post web videos, Slide Share, and pictures directly in Facebook for them to show up on your Timeline.
With Twitter and Facebook connected, you are ready for the most important part: maintenance and interaction. The reason we use these tools for sales is to create interaction and nurture our leads. If you created a Facebook page and have never checked your updates or comments, you have failed as a social media saleswoman. Social media is a sales tool because you have the ability for real-time interaction with leads while broadcasting information to matured leads or potential leads. It is a relationship tool. Which brings me to proper use of the Linkedin platform for sales.
Linkedin can be a powerful tool for relationship and interactions along the sales pipeline. It allows you to connect with individuals by groups in specific niches and in broad categories. If your brand makes a unique energy drink, you are going to want to join 'athletic associations', 'sports industry associates', 'professionals who run', 'work and a healthy life balance'; in other words, groups that fit your target market. Once you join a group, do not act like a publicist and start pitching. You should not be frothing at the mouth to advertise. We are sales, we create relationships! Do not hesitate to be yourself and talk about your sports interests (if we are sticking to the energy drink case study). Interact in Linkedin like you would network at a cocktail party. Do not post affiliate and referral links in groups, respect will be lost quickly. With social media, you want ears, not droids.
Lastly, on the 'big four' in social platforms (this week at least), I would take a look at Google +. With 90 million users, reported this January by TechCrunch, it should not be simply ignored. That and it has some great tools for sales. Google hangouts, being the most prominent, allows you to create group video chats for informational meets and to follow up with many leads at once. The video gives a personal feel, and it allows everyone to interact, ask questions and give feedback.
Once you have conquered the 'big four' (many social media super users will argue me to the death on which are really the big four, just ignore it) and you have seen the metrics from the sales they have led to, you can start exploring the smaller platforms (do make sure your strategy is working before extending reach. Pinterest is 'so hot right now' and allows you to create a specialized 'pin board' with information, as well as to follow interesting individuals (who may become leads). Here is a great example from a marketing firm who created a Pinterest board based on bad branding techniques that draws a great crowd: Identity Crisis.
Other platforms like About.me put all your links in one place, Mirror.me allows you to locate users by interest, and Klout can be a decent locator as well (decent, meaning maybe an after thought). But, more important than discovering the tools is putting them to work for you in sales. So I leave you with the key of this article: Make sure that all channels lead to unique CTAs and landing pages so that you are utilizing these leads, not just interacting (marketing has your back on that one, but CTA is all you).
Jenna Hannon is a Canadian born technology marketer and writer living in Silicon Valley. She is currently Strategic Communications at Fanhattan, advisor at Treasure Data. Jenna is also an adrenaline junkie; as a kiteboarder, skateboarder, snowboarder and surfer.