5 Ways to Use Social Media for Lead Generation

By Dan Bergeron Many B2B companies utilize outbound cold-calling as a primary form of B2B lead generation.  In some industries, this still might prove to be an effective form of generating leads and driving new business.  However, there are other ways to bring generate leads without sifting through a list of 100 cold calls every day.  I've done my fair share of cold calling in the past; while sometimes tedious, it proved to be relatively effective.

There is something to say for speaking with someone over the phone; it is much easier to get a feel for how serious a lead might be through their tone of voice.  For B2C lead generation, costs tend to be much higher than the end result.  Traditional ad placement can be overly expensive and tough to track leads from such a broad audience.  How many TV commercials have you watched that weren't remotely relevant to you?

Whether you are in the B2B or B2C market, you can use social media as a form of lead generation.  Here are 5 simple ways you can effectively use social media to generate leads for your business:

1) Use Social Media Monitoring Software.   There are many different monitoring tools that can be used to generate leads;  Radian6, Sysomos,  TweetDeck and HootSuite to name a few.  Each has it's own benefits, so it is important to choose an option that is best suited for your business needs.  When setting up keyword searches, try pairing relevant keywords with 'recommendations' or 'suggestions'.  For example, 'dentist recommendations' could be one example of how a dentist might track any mentions on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs.

2) Answers on LinkedIn.   Many people think of LinkedIn solely for networking, job searching or hiring.  It is in fact great for those things, but also can be an effective method for generating leads as well.  One gem area of LinkedIn that many people are not as familiar with is the LinkedIn Answers section.  Browse through several industry related topics, searching for different questions and answers users have posted.  Answer questions individuals might have regarding a specific industry or recommendations they might be looking for.  Users have the ability to mark the best answers or suggest 'experts' to answer that question.

3) Questions on Quora.   Answering questions on Quora is quite similar to LinkedIn Answers; however it is their primary focus.  More people likely look to Quora to answer questions on topics of their expertise.  Setting up notifications every time a new question is posted in a particular topic can be an effective way to provide more information about your company.

4) Host a Twitter Chat.   Twitter is a great way for brands to communicate with their customers.  It provides an easy way for customers to ask questions, rant or rave about their favorite or least favorite brands.  Hosting a regular Twitter chat can be an effective way to drive more leads.   Although it is a crowded space, hosting a one hour chat once a week provides a time where your brand can ask questions to existing and prospective customers.  If moderated properly with relevant questions,   a Twitter chat can allow your brand to provide information to potential customers.  Make sure to list your chat and encourage existing brand advocates to spread the word.  As time goes on the chat will grow organically, creating more brand awareness and driving more leads.

5) Be Likeable.  No matter what forms of social media your business uses, make sure to be Likeable.  Across all social media channels, regularly engage with fans and followers.  It is important to constantly be conversational with fans and followers.   A brand that has an extremely positive reputation online will organically generate leads by word of mouth.   Brands like Zappos or Southwest Airlines have extraordinary customer service in social media.  They are recognized as some of the leading brands and as a result, their current customers are so impressed they tell their friends, many of which become new customers as well.  Above all other ways of generating leads, one of the best forms of lead generation is maintaining a positive and Likeable reputation.

How can your business generate leads through social media?