“You’re a small business owner – you need to be on social media!”

If you had a dollar for every time someone said that to you, I have no doubt you’d have enough revenue to support your business for years! In 2015, it’s obvious every small business can benefit from social media, the real question is, how do you do it? It’s my opinion (and experience) that social media isn’t the best place to sell your products, but it is the perfect place for lead generation. Once you have a lead (name, email, and/or phone number) the sale happens in the follow-up.

Social media isn’t the best place to sell your products, but it is the perfect place for lead generation. Click To Tweet

Now that we have that straight, here are the 4 steps I’ve found to be most effective to generate leads with social media:

  1.     Define What You Want to Sell
  2.     Get Specific on Who Buys
  3.      Find Out Where They Are
  4.      Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse

Step 1: Define What You Want to Sell

The late Stephen Covey said it best… “Begin with the end in mind.”

As a small business owner, your “end” is to sell your products or services. In order to truly be effective at generating leads via social media, be as specific as possible about which product or service you want to sell through your social media efforts.

  • What is it called?
  • How much does it cost?
  • What does it include?
  • What is the benefit to the customer? How will it impact their life?

Even if you have multiple products or services, social media lead gen works best when you focus on one at a time. Once you’ve started generating leads for one product, you can easily apply the same process to other products. The key here is to focus on just one!

Step 2: Get Specific on Who Buys

This is where you get as specific as possible about the type of person who can most benefit from the product or service you defined in Step 1, also known as: your target audience. Avoid the common pitfall of saying your product is for everyone. Even if, technically, anyone can use your product you’ll be more successful in generating leads if you choose one target audience to focus on.

Answer these questions to define your target audience:

How old are they? Where do they live? What is their gender? What magazines, blogs, or books do they read? What TV shows or movies do they watch? What events or conferences do they attend? Who are the thought leaders, experts, or gurus they follow?

Once you have these insights you’ll be lightyears ahead of most businesses.

Step 3: Find Out Where They Are

Not all social networks are created equal.

While it’s true that Facebook is the biggest social network, it doesn’t mean that’s where your audience is spending most of their time. That being said, it’s probably the place I would start. To get more specific, if you’re in the B2B space, LinkedIn is a great place to focus. Instagram and Pinterest are great for brands that sell products or services that are more visual in nature.

How do you know which network should be your focus?

  1.     Where are your competitors focusing their efforts? Chances are they’re onto something and you should follow suit.
  2.     Where are the lateral (non-competitive) brands in your industry focusing their efforts? Get on over there, too!
  3.     Which network do you personally use/like the best? This one may seem trite but honestly, you’ll be spending a lot of time on the networks on which you market your business and you’ll enjoy it more if it’s a network you like!

When in doubt, start with Facebook. Most businesses will be able to generate leads there.

Step 4: Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse

One of the biggest mistakes small businesses make in social media marketing is going for the sale too early. To borrow an analogy from dating, would you ask someone to marry you on a first date? Uhhh, probably not! Asking someone to buy from you right away when they don’t know you, your business, or what you offer, is the business equivalent of asking for marriage on the first date. It’s awkward and ineffective. Instead, offer something of value that solves your customer’s problems for free. This is also known as offering a lead magnet.

A lead magnet is an “ethical bribe” that you offer your customers in exchange for their contact information. It can be a product sample, ebook, video, audio download, or anything else. The only rule with a lead magnet is that is that it must offer value by itself. If your prospect won’t get true value from your lead magnet without buying more from you, you’ll shoot yourself in the foot and your chances of getting sale will greatly diminish. You want the person consuming your lead magnet to get so much value from it that they’ll be hungry for more!

On another note, social networks are meant to be social. Most people don’t ever buy anything from a social network. That’s why you use a lead magnet to get their name and contact info so you can follow-up with and nurture them off of Facebook via live chat, email, on the phone, or even in person.

As you can see, social media can be a powerful way to to generate leads and attract your target audience.”

Social media can be a powerful way to to generate leads and attract your target audience. Click To Tweet

The last piece of advice I’ll give you is this: It’s all an experiment! There’s a decent chance you’ll only learn what really generates leads through trial and error. That’s totally fine and to be expected! Make the most educated guesses you can up front (you can even survey your audience to get ideas!) Then, you can modify your campaign as needed going forward.

How has your business been generating leads with social media? Let us know on social or in the comments!