Editor’s Note: Today’s post is a guest contribution from Kipp Bodnar, a friend and inbound marketing strategist at HubSpot.
What do you think when someone says social media? Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? These are all valuable communities and platforms. The big mistake many marketers make when looking to drive business results from these communities is focusing only on the interactions that occur inside the walls of each network, instead of also leveraging social media’s potential on their own website, too.
For example, more than 7 million apps and websites are integrated with Facebook. Is your website? Social media engagement happens across the web and isn’t limited to your Facebook business page or your favorite LinkedIn Group. With social media becoming a larger part of the internet in general, marketers must more completely integrate social media into their entire sales and marketing process.
Here are 6 steps for better integrating social media into marketing efforts that reside outside the friendly walls of your favorite social networks.
Step 1: Begin Collecting Social Media Usernames
Yes email addresses are still important, but they aren’t the only way to start a dialogue with someone. In your inbound marketing process, you likely have methods of data collections for your prospects and leads. Start asking for social media information such as a LinkedIn profile URL. This makes for a much richer leads database and can aid the sales team in their conversations with leads.
Step 2: Use One-Click Follow Buttons
Making it dead simple for website visitors to connect with you on social media is one of the most important off-network steps a marketer can take for building social media reach. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn all provide free one-click follow buttons that allow a visitor to follow your business on social media without ever making the person leave your website. This is HUGE! It helps reduce friction in the path of website visitor to social media follower.
Step 3: Leverage Existing Customers
Just because you are working to building your community on LinkedIn or Facebook doesn’t mean you’re starting from scratch. You likely have many existing connections: customers, partners, vendors, etc. Leverage them to be early social media advocates who can help share content and aid in your generation of leads and customers. A simple way to execute on this idea is to draft a very brief email to your customers explaining why it would be valuable for them to connect with your company on a social network like LinkedIn and providing a link that easily allows them to follow your LinkedIn company page.
Step 4: Place Social Sharing Buttons on All Important Website Pages
Social media sharing buttons aren’t only for your blog posts. As a business in the evolving inbound marketing landscape, it is important to have rich content pages on your website as well. These pages could include product pages, landing pages for ebooks, or other resources for additional information. This content needs to be super easy to share in social media, too. Use the free social media sharing buttons provided by most social networks to let website visitors share valuable content with their connections. Note: Do not litter your web pages with every social media sharing button under the sun. To many options can be overwhelming and result in a person taking no action instead of sharing. Limit the sharing buttons on your site to just a few networks that have a track record of driving traffic and leads for your business.
Step 5: Teach Your Sales Team How to Prospect Using Social Media
Social media isn’t only for marketing. In fact, social media can be a valuable tool for a salesperson looking to gain valuable insight into a lead’s motivation and experience. Salespeople need social media information to quickly gain trusted advisor status with a lead. Sure, having social media profile links in your CRM system is helpful to the sales team, but it is important to go beyond that. Conduct training sessions with your sales team to teach them how to find key pieces of valuable information in specific social networking profiles. Help them understand how they could use this information to build rapport with a lead on the phone or in person.
Step 6: Nurture Leads With Social Media
As a marketer using social media, your job isn’t over when you generate a lead. It isn’t done until that lead becomes a happy customer for your business. When marketers think about marketing automation, the first thing that comes to mind is automated email sends. Nurturing leads into customers is not only about email. Instead, think about how social media can be incorporated into the lead nurturing process. For example, using behavior-based marketing automation software, you could follow up with leads using a custom Twitter message after they had completed watching your product demonstration video to determine if they have any questions that you could help answer.
Social Media isn’t limited to the confines of the networks themselves. Instead, much of social media’s leverage resides in your websites, emails and other marketing efforts.
How do you use social media on your own website to generate leads and customers?
Kipp Bodnar is Inbound Marketing Strategist at HubSpot, the leader in marketing software that includes search engine optimization, social media, email and marketing automation tools. Kipp is also the co-author of The B2B Social Media Book: Become A Marketing Superstar by Generating Leads with Blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Email and More.