At the same time, simply plunging in and bombarding social media platforms with pre-fabricated sales messages will get you nowhere. Today’s sophisticated, web-savvy audiences will likely reject a hard sell wherever they encounter it.
When it comes to generating new sales leads on social media, a nuanced, user-friendly approach is more effective. Here are strategies to employ when reaching out to your desired target audience via social media.
Cultivate a vibrant social media presence. It’s not enough to sign up for Twitter and Facebook and wait for fans and followers to come to you. With social media, it’s all about cultivating a vibrant presence that facilitates a friendly give-and-take, with an emphasis on giving rather than taking.
Look closely at your target demographics. What platforms do they frequent? Establish accounts on all major social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, etc.), but be mindful of the risks of spreading yourself too thin. Focus your efforts on the primary channels where your target audience spends its time, while maintaining a presence on other, secondary sites.
Offer content of value to prospective customers. If you’ve researched your target audience, you should have a pretty good idea of what’s important to them and what they can do without. You’ll attract more fans and followers by catering to their needs and issues, rather than focusing on what you want (new sales leads).
Using social media to generate sales requires taking a long view—providing a steady stream of valuable (and entertaining) content, building relationships with an ever-larger group of followers in ways not directly related to internal sales objectives.
It’s OK to sprinkle your posts with occasional calls-to-action. For example, invite followers to click on a link that takes them to a special offer on your business website (like a free article or white paper). People are more inclined to explore such links if they don’t feel you’re actively selling them something.
Post often, but not too often. Social media experts differ on the ideal amount of posting to be done daily or weekly, but all agree—consistency is crucial towards achieving your sales goals. You build trust among viewers by serving as a reliable source of information, as opposed to only occasionally Tweeting or posting once in a while on Facebook or Google+.
At the same time, monitor your output so you don’t overwhelm people or come across as pushing a corporate agenda. Social media is all about customer engagement and interaction.
Join a group and/or community. Industry-specific groups can be found on LinkedIn and Facebook, with a “built-in” audience of people interested in your field. Twitter and Google+ offer communities and forums with a similar approach. All are effective ways to introduce yourself and your business, as long as you don’t come on too strong. Establishing solid relationships with prospective customers is far more important than self-promotion—while always seeking to contribute to the discussion in a meaningful way.
Be patient. As noted, social media isn’t the venue for quick sales. As you build a reputation for providing consistent value, you’ll gain more followers (and potential customers).
When the opportunity arises, reach out to individual followers on Twitter and elsewhere, offering to address their needs and offer helpful solutions. On social media, patience and respectful engagement are the best ways to capture new leads for your business.
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