The Truth about Social Media Leads

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Posted: March 26, 2013 | Demand Generation

There are hundreds of differing opinions regarding the effectiveness of using social media for lead generation. This is my opinion and it comes from over two years of trial and error using what I consider to be the best tools available for the social media marketer.

Social is an essential channel for the modern marketer to have a presence, but it can’t become the number one revenue driver all by itself. Instead, it needs to be integrated into the overall marketing mix to truly reach its potential.

Social media leads must be nurtured.

Social leads are often not ready to buy and need to be nurtured properly. Throwing thousands of unqualified leads into your funnel every month is a complete waste of time if they are never going to buy your product. So target appropriately and keep your content strategy focused on the pain points and hot topics around your target personas. Content fuels social for sure, but having too much content that is way too broad can be a waste of resources.

Social plays a key role throughout your entire sales pipeline, beginning before prospects are even identified (while they research and follow your thought leadership on social media sites), to after they become customers (as they remain loyal customers through retention and cross and up-sell opportunities).

Inbound is not enough.

I cannot stress this last point enough. Using inbound alone to generate leads with social media is like hanging out with only the same group of friends from elementary school your entire life. Adding a bit of paid promotion is the only way to break through to the coveted friends of friends, or second degree connections, while targeting social users and growing your overall reach. Inbound alone is not your answer, it’s part of the equation for success.

If a lead falls into a funnel and no one is around…

What good is putting all of this into practice if you cannot track your success and determine if these leads are turning into customers? It’s not. Make sure you are using a platform such as marketing automation to track lead source. I prefer to track each channel individually so that I can tell which one is most effective. Then, I break down the cost per lead and compare it to other sources.

In a nutshell

So there you have it. The truth around social media leads straight and to the point. The bottom line is that social needs to be integrated across your entire marketing strategy in order to be effective. It’s also not going to be free as it requires staff and a budget, but that’s another blog post altogether. Of course there are some details I skipped over here, but I invite you to download the Definitive Guide to Social Marketing for a full lesson.

Jason Miller is Senior Manager of Content Marketing at LinkedIn. Previously, Jason was Senior Manager of Social Media at Marketo and focused on optimizing social for lead generation and driving revenue. He is a regular contributor to leading marketing blogs such as Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today, and Marketing Profs.

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