Last week, I attended the webinar “How to Use Social Media for Lead Generation” led by Rick Burnes, Marketing Manager at HubSpot.
Rick described how traditional marketing channels like TV, radio, newspapers, direct mail, and cold calling are like a sledge hammer. They keep banging people over the head with their messaging, which is oftentimes more expensive and less effective. The companies Rick used as prime examples of this tactic were P&G, McDonalds, Pfizer.
Traditional marketing, however, is falling by the wayside as companies are finding ways to leverage social media tools instead. Rick likened these tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, not to a sledge hammer, but to a magnet that draws potential customers in. This technique is called inbound marketing and examples of companies that have used this tactic to their advantage are Google, Amazon, and Facebook… no surprises there.
The webinar described how inbound marketing is like a funnel. At the top there are all the people coming in to your website through successful approaches like press, promotions, and optimization – made all the more successful through tools like content management, blogging, social media, SEO, and analytics.
Once people have found your site, the next part of the funnel comes into play – converting visitors to customers. The three conversion tactics to achieve this are testing, targeting, and nurturing through tools like special offers/CTAs, landing pages, email, lead intelligence, lead management, and analytics.
To achieve the magnet effect through the funnel with social media tools, you must work to build relationships and trust with clients. It’s not only important to join and listen on social media sites, but to participate as well. Participation is easy through things like Facebook discussions, Yahoo! Answers, and LinkedIn Q&As. When you answer questions and make contributions, you begin to build a reputation and, eventually, relationships with influential community members and potential clients.
Social media tools are a great way to distribute your content, but it’s not just about yourself, you must interact with people to achieve the optimum results. You need to balance your conversation and distribution to get the most out of social media. Good content spreads fast, so you’re not only reaching a select group like with a traditional ad. Worthy contributions not only reach the people associated with your social media accounts, but also everyone associated with their accounts… that is, if they deem your content good enough to be shared.
Content that gets shared is interesting, fresh, useful, and relevant to target audiences. New data, top blog posts, and funny videos are among the top things to get redistributed. Product info, free trials, or software documentation is typically not redistributed, though it can still be useful and interesting – so this is where striking a good balance comes into play. Blogs, podcasts, videos, and photos in combination with presentations, eBooks, and press releases will generally achieve a good mix of information that people will want to share.
Overall, the webinar had some great insights for “inbound marketing” through social media – something that more and more companies are making use of (often through PR agencies who conduct social media campaigns) to generate new customer/business leads.