A Complete Guide to B2B Lead Generation Using Social Media in 2016
B2B companies will attest that leads are the lifeblood of their businesses, as leads help companies find prospects, increase revenue, and achieve business goals. Thus, coming up with fresh ideas on how to further improve lead generation is crucial in staying ahead in today’s ever-changing business landscape.
( Source: Marsden Marketing )
( Source: CadilusCloud )
However, according to DMN3, the adoption of social media by B2B companies has been relatively slow, with concerns regarding proper execution as the leading struggle when leveraging social media as a lead generation tool. But today, more organizations have integrated social media into their marketing strategy, particularly for content promotion purposes.
There still remains a large contingency of marketers who haven’t considered or implemented social media. For those who are still doubtful about social media, just think b2bof how including it in your existing B2B lead generation strategies could not only create brand awareness, encourage social sharing, and drive inbound leads, but ultimately, could contribute towards an overflowed sales funnel.
Chapter I: How to pick the proper social media channels for B2B lead generation
You can utilize numerous social media platforms simultaneously to increase effectiveness and outreach—provided you use each one correctly.
( Source: CMI )
Furthermore, LinkedIn is where most professionals, industry leaders, and even your competitors congregate, so engaging with LinkedIn can be beneficial in building relationships with your prospects via daily updates without necessarily spamming them. Consequently, putting more of your lead generation efforts into monitoring and maintaining this platform makes a lot of sense.
Another social media channel to consider is Twitter. With millions of people on this network, you can deliver specific information in a short yet shareable message, along with links in real-time. While it may not be as influential as LinkedIn, it can help engage with communities and amplify your brand presence.
Engagement with your followers is also possible on Twitter. However, frequency plays a crucial role in getting favorable lead generation results due to the short attention span of search engine crawlers and the continual updates by everyone else in the network.
Some B2B companies don’t use Facebook for lead generation, but there are still a good amount of B2B corporations that use it to further showcase their organization’s culture. More detailed information about particular products, services, events, and other relevant updates are posted on Facebook, which can be complemented with images or videos, too.
Aside from these three networks, there are still other social media channels that B2B marketers can use for lead generation, such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+. Each platform has its advantages and disadvantages and some will work better than others depending on your company’s industry and positioning. So identifying the best ones to support your lead generation goals is crucial to getting the most out of your promotional efforts.
It also helps to have a social media lead management tool to keep track of where your leads are coming from and which channels are performing best. Marketing automation is here to help, so be sure to take advantage of it.
Chapter II: B2B lead generation using LinkedIn
B2B companies looking to target businesses and decision makers have come to rely on LinkedIn for lead generation. According to Gleanster Research, out of all the social media channels used by top performing companies, LinkedIn is the most used, sitting at 88% against Twitter at 53%, and Facebook at 42%. LinkedIn is also rated as the most effective.
Furthermore, Octopost released a statement that 80% of leads generated through social media for B2B marketers came from LinkedIn, making it the outright best channel option for B2B lead generation.
LinkedIn Lead Generation Tactics
1. LinkedIn Groups
Find and generate leads by joining groups where your prospects are hanging out. Once accepted as a member, search for your fellow associates and reach out to users with job titles and interests that make those individuals ideal prospects.
You can also create your own LinkedIn group. It is important to ensure that your group name is something that displays value to your prospects and gives them a reason to want to join. From there, be active and build a favorable image for your company by becoming a thought leader or expert in your industry.
2. LinkedIn Ads
Traditional LinkedIn ads appear on the sidebar of LinkedIn’s homepage, groups, and user profiles. These ads are similar to Google AdWords or search engine ads. They contain only a headline, a picture and a small amount of copy. You can also optimize these ads for CPM and CPC.
3. LinkedIn Company Page
Your LinkedIn company page is a great avenue for lead generation, so make the most of that space by developing your page so that compels users to perform a task like visiting your company website. Structure your company page in such a way that it leads up to a conversion action.
Here are the steps to create a company page that helps you generate leads.
- Use an attractive, high-quality header image. You can also use it to advertise one of your latest products.
- In your company description, use clear and compelling language that encourages prospects to find out more about your company. Do not be content with merely writing about your business location or contact details. Grab their attention with copy that will generate interest and invite them to visit your website.
- Post updates on your feed that speak directly to your target audience. Doing so increases the chances of prospects clicking through to your page, looking to find out more about your company. Include infographics, curated content, and blog updates that appeal to whoever you wish to attract to your business.
4. Sponsored InMail
For more qualified leads, you can use LinkedIn’s sponsored InMail to reach users via their LinkedIn message inbox. Sponsored InMail is priced based on auction for the particular audience you are targeting, but will vary widely depending on how many other advertisers are trying to reach those prospects as well.
Sponsored InMail can be fully branded with your company’s creative, and can come from your company itself or from individual employees.
5. LinkedIn Advanced Search
LinkedIn Advanced Search is an excellent tool for finding leads and gaining access to decision makers on the network. The best feature is that you do not have to go through gatekeepers to connect with decision makers, and you get to do this for free.
Using it is easy. Here are the steps as suggested by Kissmetrics:
- From the LinkedIn header menu, just click the search people icon, then the advanced option.
- For best results, proceed to the Advanced People Search to filter your search according to location, current company, title, industry, school, language, and non-profit interests, amongst other categories. Keep in mind that the bigger and better your personal network, the greater your chance of finding warm prospects.
- Save your search results. You will receive weekly updates that show new LinkedIn members who meet your search criteria and those who have updated their profiles. You can then use these findings to generate leads.
LinkedIn Lead Generation Tips
1. Establish Relationships
As a professional networking site, your company page plays an important role in establishing relationships with potential buyers and broadening your network on LinkedIn itself.
LinkedIn advises that you follow a 5-step process based on social media best practices to ensure that you build effective relationships on the network. The steps are as follows:
- Establish your presence
- Attract followers
- Engage followers
- Amplify your message through your network
- Analyze results and refine your strategy
2. Content Marketing
Producing an assortment of content on a regular basis is a best practice not only on LinkedIn, but on other social networks too. Aside from the usual company updates, crafting unique content is crucial as well (with the inclusion of a clear yet subtle CTA linking back to your site), as this encourages sharing amongst connections—resulting in increased brand awareness and audience outreach.
SEO optimization is essential too, especially on LinkedIn, since Google displays LinkedIn content in its search results.
Your LinkedIn company page is considered as an extension of your brand. Thus, the importance of compelling branding—from visuals dimensions all the way to the text.
For instance, the first 156 characters of your company page’s description is contained within Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (. So, having SEO-rich text fitted for your branding is important, as it is the first thing displayed on search results.
Just like any marketing campaign, analytics is also important on LinkedIn to efficiently assess the performance of your efforts and to gather information on how you can further tweak the campaign in the future.
From the company page, all interactions and clicks should be tested and tracked so that measurement and analytics are possible.
Chapter III: B2B lead generation using Twitter
Twitter is useful for leveraging followers who are willing to share information about you and your business with others who are not familiar with what you have to offer. However, converting new visitors requires some strategizing and segmentation.
With the introduction of new features, such as Lead Generation Cards, it is now easier to capture user data without having to go to another website. If that sounds a lot like Facebook’s Lead Ads, it is because it works in a similar way.
Twitter Lead Generation Tactics
1. Twitter Lead Generation Cards
Lead Generation Cards (LGC) have been successful in decreasing the average cost per click while increasing the number of click-throughs—making it a highly efficient lead generation tool for B2B marketers.
A lead generation card is a form that you can attach to your tweet so followers can send you their contact details with a single click. This makes it an effective lead generation tool, which has shown to have a 996% improvement in acquiring leads and a 500% reduction in cost per lead from Twitter itself.
To reap the benefits of this free lead gen tool, specify your offer and include a CTA, as well as professional quality images that stand out. Promoting using hashtags that your audience members also use to make sure your outreach is targeted. Another tactic is to pin your LGC to your Twitter profile so it gets the maximum possible exposure.
2. Twitter Profile Page
The profile page is also an opportunity to generate leads as you promote your brand or message. Use a custom Twitter background of your business to begin with, then add a CTA or link back to your website.
Ensure that once a user visits your profile, they will immediately know how to acquire more information through clicking on appropriate links. Your company’s website URL should also be included in your Twitter profile. However, if you decide to do this, make sure your site’s homepage has lead generation capabilities, and is optimized to drive leads.
3. Twitter Advanced Search
The Twitter Advanced Search option is also an effective lead generation tool, as it enables B2B businesses to dig deeper into conversations—giving them insights into industry trends. Information gathered here may include recent trending information, as well as people who could be important to your business be it customers, thought leaders, influencers or media analysts.
Gathered data from Twitter Advanced Searches should be leveraged to determine engagement levels within your industry, identify relationships of your competitors with influencers, the trends they are covering. So Twitter Search is really a way for businesses to find out what the relevant people are saying, and who they are saying it to, because all this information comes in the form of posts that can be readily accessed by the public. Ultimately, all of this gathered information can be used as a reference to improve your lead generation efforts in the future on this.
Twitter Lead Generation Tips
- Segment your audience by searching for relevant hashtags to find and connect only with associated B2B organizations and individuals that make up your target audience. Twitter is a great tool for targeting audiences, as it provides the knowledge you need to increase your chances of accurately sending the right message to the right people.
- Set aside a few hours per day for Twitter. You do not have to be active the whole time, but you do need to find out what the best times are for posting to reach the largest active . One way to do this is by checking Twitter Analytics to see when your tweets get the most exposure.
As stated by Social Media London, there is 14% more engagement on weekdays than on weekends on Twitter for B2B, while tweets posted around 5pm earn a higher amount of retweets than any other time. So, keep in mind these tips, set your schedule, and stick to it in order to maximize message exposure. Also note that best timing depends highly on the geographical location of your target audience as they may live in all parts of the world.
- Do not overuse hashtags. Too many hashtags can be distracting, appear to be spam, and ultimately may prevent users from clicking on a link.
- Follow up with leads and respond as quickly as possible.
- Actively seek out potential followers. While it’s important to keep your current members engaged, do not get stuck within your existing community. Find ways to solve problems for those outside your circle, they could very well turn out to be some of your most loyal followers.
Chapter IV: Lead generation using Facebook
Facebook is a social media behemoth. With over a billion users, it captures about 10% of all Internet visits and each user spends an average of 28 minutes scrolling through their Facebook account each day.
Generating B2B leads via Facebook happens either directly or indirectly. Direct leads are captured through the use of a lead magnet – downloadable eBooks, white papers, tools, or other types of content – which are linked to a landing page where visitors can gain access to them by providing their information.
Indirect leads, on the other hand, are generated by using your Facebook page for posting content, like an article or blog post, and a call-to-action for visitors to find your website. Once the user visits, they have the option to go to a landing page and provide their contact details. This is an alternative way of capturing leads, but it’s also an effective means of engaging followers and promoting trust in your brand.
Facebook Lead Generation Tactics
1. Facebook Lead Ads
There are two ways of using lead ads on Facebook: through Facebook ads leading to an external landing page, or through an embedded lead advertisement that remains within Facebook.
A Facebook Ad that leads to an external landing page should provide valuable content that can be accessed in exchange for contact details. Though the content is provided at no charge, it still has to be interesting enough for your target audience to want to give up their personal contact details in order to gain access.
The content is called a “lead magnet,” which can be in any of the following formats: eBooks, templates, checklists, free online courses, white papers, case studies, guides, etc. The lead magnet can be downloaded from a landing page. Once someone goes to your landing page, they are required to fill out a form, providing contact details and potentially other personal information.
2. Facebook Page and Status Updates
You can use your company Facebook Page for lead generation by building engagement with your followers and prospects. The best way to do this is by sharing meaningful content that resonates with your target audience. Facebook has an algorithm called EdgeRank, which is used to determine what appears in a user’s news feed. Content that gets a lot of shares, likes, and comments will be positioned higher in the news feed and achieve greater reach. This will encourage more interactions and increase the likelihood of finding your prospects.
Facebook Lead Generation Tips
- Add a call-to-action to your cover image
The cover photo is the first thing that people see on your Facebook page, so choose an image that gives an accurate visual representation of your company. It should be compelling enough for your followers to take action and somehow connect with you to find more about your company or product. Change it often, and update your followers of any alteration, since each change shows up on news feeds, increasing your visibility.
- Post a variety of content
Find a balance between posting content for both direct and indirect lead generation. Make sure that whatever you share on your page aligns with your overall goals, and that there is an equal amount of promotional posts (that aim to capture customer data) and “softer” posts that seek to drive engagement, comments, shares, trust and overall brand awareness.
- Include tracking URLs
This ensures that your lead generation efforts can be monitored, measured and analyzed. Use what you’ve learned from the data to improve your next strategy, and do this regularly.
- Use the Facebook event planner
Use this free feature when you create an event for your community. It allows you to invite people to your events, for both webinars and face-to-face. Use images and links on news feeds to grab user attention and encourage participation.
The Facebook event planner also provides reminders, helping to ensure they do not miss your events. It also gives you an idea of what the headcount will be on the day itself.
Chapter V: B2B lead generation using other social media channels
While Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the leading social media networks used for B2B lead generation, other rising stars should not be ignored. There are some things that you can do, in B2B and B2C marketing, to leverage the popularity of other social media networks like Instagram, Pinterest and Google+.
This social media platform currently has about 300 million users and is considered to be 25% more engaging than any other social media network. It is a visual platform and B2B companies can use photos and other visually appealing images to promote their company. You can even post 15-second videos, which can serve as “teasers” to promote your company’s services.
Instagram Tactics and Tips
- Use a unique hashtag by coming up with one that resonates with your company. Use keywords and make use of your business name to monitor and engage with those interacting with your brand.
- Add a personal touch. Instagram is a great way to humanize your brand and show followers what goes on behind-the-scenes, perhaps using pictures of the people working at the company. Product demos, staff activities and team get-togethers make your company more relatable, thus increasing trust, engagement and improving lead generation efforts.
Another visually appealing and image-heavy social media site, Pinterest, is considered to be a successful platform for generating leads, some claiming that a single Pin is worth 78 cents in real-world sales. It is also an overwhelmingly women-centered social media site, with 85% of its users being female. Pinterest has more than 70 million users and growing, with users spending almost double the amount of money as Facebook users and three times more than Twitter users regarding consumption purchases.
Pinterest Tactics and Tips
- Since some B2B companies are not selling a product or offering a service that can be represented visually, having images that are aligned with your company’s culture and branding is the appropriate way to use Pinterest as a lead generation tool.
- Create useful boards that your target audience will find valuable. High-quality content still rules, but this needs to be translated into visual content that will help generate leads. Come up with a Pinboard that contains infographics, data charts or ebook covers to encourage sharing among users, driving engagement and generating leads.
- Pin high-quality images, and take note of good composition. Use big images for higher chances of being repinned. Bright images are preferable to darker ones.
- Keep descriptions short and concise, somewhere between 100 to 200 characters is ideal. Provide a link to your landing page so you can direct pinners there for lead
With over 343 million active users, this social media platform is also backed by the largest search engine in the world. +1 buttons on Google+ are pushed more than 5 billion times a day, indicating a high level of social engagement.
Google + Tactics and Tips
Google+ is all about visibility, as profiles rank in Google Search results and contribute to a page’s rank. So, first off, keep in mind to always share compelling content. Content is still the best way to build a community and is a great starting point for instigating a meaningful conversation with potential leads.
Other ways to find leads on this platform include:
- Use your actual company name for your account and fill out your profile with all the associated company details, as these details help establish your authority not only in the network, but across the entire web.
- Know what keywords people use to find you. Use the search feature on your Google+ account to find people and groups that you brand can associate with.
- Once you have identified the pages or groups to join, actively engage with them by sharing valuable content. Try to become the go-to person for answers in your area of expertise.
- Be active by spending a few minutes of your day building a community and engaging with these groups until you build trust.
- Engage with users to increase the number of people who follow your pages or +1’s.
- Be consistent with your message tone and voice. As much as possible be engaging and spark discussions with others.
Regardless of which social media platform you choose to use for B2B lead generation, it is important to have a clear strategy based on your target audience and the type of platform you want to use. For B2B lead generation, focusing on LinkedIn is your best bet.
But while LinkedIn is the leading option among B2B companies, you should also consider spreading your efforts across the other social media platforms mentioned to maximize their benefits so you can get the most out of social media marketing not only this 2016, but in the long haul as well.
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