Admit it. When you look at your business’s social media accounts, do you think of them as lead generation tools?
Or do you view them as simply something to maintained, necessary to keep up appearances, like having a website with a parallax layout or updating your business cards?
If that’s the way you’ve been looking at social media, it’s your own fault it’s not generating leads or doing much beyond just sitting there.
The reality of managing social media for business
I mention, often, how social media takes time. You need to set a schedule, stick to it, and post regularly to see results.
But while it’s all well and good to say you need to do more than just assign these tasks to the youngest person in the office, it’s difficult to find the time or budget to make social media a full time position.
Besides, you’re in B2B – it’s not like you really need someone managing your social media accounts full time, anyway.
You’re right. There’s no reason for you to pay someone to sit and click around on Facebook or Twitter all day.
Where you’re wrong is where the value of social media really lies. Social media marketing isn’t just clicking around on Facebook all day.
It’s not in doing things just for the sake of doing them – that’s just keeping up appearances. No one visits a company’s Facebook page and says “Wow, look at all of those daily posts. I’m going to buy from these guys, they know how to keep a schedule.”
Instead, social media is more of a way for prospective clients to discover you exist – and that you have the potential solution to their problem.
Social media is a way for people to find you. And it’s your job to make what they find worth learning more about.
Social is actually a secret weapon for salespeople
While sales and marketing teams are often at odds (so I’ve been told), when it comes to social, they should be best friends.
This is a big part of why I work so often, and with success, with the talented team over at Oinkodomeo – they’re worth a visit, if you’re curious to know more about sales, social, and combining the two.
Oinkodomeo recognizes the place social has in the sales cycle: it extends your sales team’s ability to do what they do best – networking.
Through effective social media marketing, by the time a lead handoff takes place from marketing to sales, a new contact or lead might have pages of notes and background attached to them thanks to their social media activity.
Effective social media marketing cultivates a relationship that sales can expand on.
Your sales team should also be active on social to facilitate this handoff in as seamless of a process as possible. From your potential client’s perspective, once they’ve clearly indicated interest and that they’re active on a particular account, what better way to get in touch with a salesperson than in the exact network and format they were just communicating in?
Your salespeople should be active, easy to find, and visible on the social media networks that their prospects consistently hang out on.
Not your company – your sales team. The people who you want talking to prospects. Your business’s LinkedIn page is never going to see the same level of success at converting leads that a handful of effective, socially networking salespeople will from simply being active in a few targeted LinkedIn groups.
You don’t want to just unleash your entire sales department onto the internet with your company’s name attached, though. That can be even more disastrous than not getting them active on social in the first place.
Treat social like a tool you’re trying to utilize effectively, not a free bonus for having access to the internet
Effective social media marketing requires planning – you need to actually sit down and put some thought into what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, and why you’re doing it.
Social media should have a point. You shouldn’t just be posting just to post. You need to have a reason – even if that reason is simply to build brand awareness. Your prospective clients don’t give you bonus points for having an account on every single network. There’s no award for “posts a blog link every day” or “created a profile on every popular social media network.”
Prospective clients see your social media posts as potential reasons to learn more about you – or reasons they should check out your competitors, instead.
Understanding your prospective clients helps you determine what type of content you should share, how often, and which networks are worth participating on. This knowledge and planning is essential for your sales team, senior executives, or anyone within your company utilizing an approachable, prominent role to increase the visibility of your company.
On the flip side, while planning your social media strategy should take some time, the actual implementation of that strategy shouldn’t take over your day.
Salespeople, CEOs, or even the HR team shouldn’t be spending hours on any particular social media network to see results.
That’s why it’s so vitally important that you treat social media as an important marketing action, not an afterthought.
You train your team on using new tools – why wouldn’t you train them on the most publicly visible tool of all?
Before you go and tell everyone at your company to get on XYZ social media network or else, you should stop and think back to the whole “social media is supposed to have a point” thing I just mentioned.
Yes, your sales team can see some pretty incredible lead generation from effective social media networking. However… there’s a very important part of that sentence you need to pay attention to.
It needs to be effective social networking to work at all.
Unleashing your employees on social media without providing some guidance can backfire horribly. The average salesperson (or employee in any department, really) hasn’t had any training on using social media for business. They are almost guaranteed to use it for their personal lives, but for business? You might think certain things are just common sense, but everyone thinks in different ways – what’s obvious to you may need explaining for others.
Me, I’d never blast out the exact same recruiting message to everyone I connect with. I’d never spam my entire follower list with a DM to a new offer I’ve created, nor would I send the exact same email to every single potential prospect. But as all those blog posts I’ve linked to describe, these are faux-pas that salespeople are still making every single day.
To avoid the snafu of something like a salesperson spamming every single person in a group with a copy-pasted sales pitch, you need to create a plan. This plan should outline who a potential prospect is, what they’re likely to find interesting, as well as guidelines for appropriately approaching them on a given network. Make it easy – one page, at most – and monitor how your team does initially. Once folks start getting the hang of things, you won’t need to worry as much, but the first few weeks should be watched closely.
You need to know what types of curated content should be going out from your social media accounts, as well as the reactions to that content. Test, test, and retest – use posts featuring curated content to tell you which topics get the most engaged reaction from your audience.
You can’t effectively test topics or engagement when your team only posts statuses at 4:55 each day before they go home, for the sake of checking off a mandatory check box the manager sent out last week.
Making social media engagement a forced decree of activity is no way to generate results, nor will it stick long term.
Again – you need to plan your strategy and your team’s actions. It won’t work if you just add on an additional task to everyone’s day.
Planned out effectively, social media isn’t a painful or time consuming aspect of your marketing.
Once you dedicate the initial time to developing a goal and strategy for your social media marketing efforts, creating a plan to achieve your goal(s) is relatively easy.
To create your plan, boil down your goal to what you’d actually be able to measure. “Increased brand recognition” isn’t a measurable goal, but “increased referral traffic from a specific social media network” is.
The hardest part about any of this isn’t thinking of a measurable goal, a strategy around it, or a plan to achieve it – it’s actually sticking to that plan.
The first month or two (or three!) of your social media efforts aren’t likely to amount to much. That’s okay, and that’s not unexpected.
But you have to power through it. Keep it up. The only people who build up huge followings from new accounts or new flurries of activity are actors and other celebrities. If you’re not a celebrity, it’s going to take you longer to build up a fan base, and it’ll take time to start seeing social media referring decent amounts of traffic to your website.
While results won’t be mind blowing at first, even after a month or so, you should be starting to see the glimmerings of an uptick from social. If you’re not, then you might be targeting the wrong prospects, posting the wrong content, or otherwise not quite hitting the right notes.