If you’re in the social media, public relations, advertising or marketing, industries, you know the lines between these communications-centric jobs are blurring. As a result, the people in these positions—especially social media managers—are expected to take on more and more responsibilities.
In addition to the main role of building online communities, distributing content to your audience, garnering engagement, and managing budgets and ad spends, social media managers must also show a return on investment for the efforts—which often comes in the form of lead generation.
A “lead” is simply a person or organization with the potential to buy your product or service. The more leads you collect, the more sales your company can make (and the more you’ll demonstrate your value in your role).
Social media managers are in a unique position where they oversee one of the largest databases of lead generation for any business: the company’s social media fans and followers.
Take advantage of that position and start generating leads from the people you interact with on a daily basis with the following time-saving tools and ideas.
1. Use a Form
The most common way to collect leads from your online audience is to use a form—basically, fields that prompt your readers to enter their contact information in exchange for access to a product or piece of content.
Forms come in many shapes and sizes (some ask for just a name and email address; some request much more) and can be placed across a variety of your marketing channels, including your website, blog, and social networks.
To most effectively use forms, it’s best to use a form-building software, which allows you to add the fields you want, embed the form into your website or a social media campaign, and collect and organize that data. There are dozens of software products out there, and they range in cost from free to thousands of dollars, but some of my favorite tools are ShortStack.com (yes, I’m biased), Wufoo, and Gravity Forms for Wordpress.
For inspiration, take a look Hubspot. Hubspot is the king of lead generation. It offers lots of useful PDFs, ebooks, case studies, and infographics, but in order to download any of those materials, you have to fill out a form—which asks for enough information about the potential customer’s company and work history to connect them with the proper sales person at Hubspot for follow-up marketing.
2. Create Quizzes and Surveys
Quizzes and surveys are a good way to get useful information from your fans and followers. Many people aren’t willing to fill out more than one or two fields to enter a competition or download a resource, but I’ve found they’re often more willing to share extra information through a survey or quiz—because the process is fun.
You can often use the same software you use to build forms to create a quiz or survey. Social media managers who are juggling many tasks will find that using third-party software to build a quiz or survey (rather than code it from scratch) is huge time-saver. Plus, all the information you then collect from both quizzes and forms will go into a single database that you can export and pass onto the appropriate department at your company.
A great example of a quiz I recently saw was part of a campaign run by a student-loan service provider. Great Lakes wanted to educate their followers about student loans, but they knew it wasn’t a very exciting topic. They decided to run a $6,000 giveaway and include an optional quiz for their fans to take as they entered, and the company ended up receiving 206,000 entries—all of which were potential leads.
3. Host a Webinar
Webinars are a great way for your fans and followers to communicate with a live person from your company. Webinars—which can be online workshops, lectures, or presentations—can be powerful educational opportunities, and especially if you partner with a like-minded, well-known industry expert to host it, you can garner a ton of new leads for your company.
You may be wondering where a social media manager comes into play for a webinar, and the answer is in promotional efforts—you’ll be using your social media channels to encourage your audience to attend the webinar.
To help generate leads, it’s best if those promotional efforts lead people to a landing page, where they’ll fill in their contact information to register for the webinar. Once again, this can be done quickly and easily with the right software (often, the same that you use to generate forms), instead of taking up the time of a designer or coder.
My company, ShortStack.com, recently partnered with marketing expert Jay Baer to do a webinar on email marketing. We were able to get more than 1,000 attendees to sign up, and after the webinar was over, we created an email campaign targeted at turning those leads into sales.
4. Leverage Your Email List
Perhaps the most common form of lead generation is email marketing. Whenever you execute any of the above lead-generating strategies, you should be collecting—at the least—an email address from your followers. Any additional information you collect will determine where your leads will fall in the sales funnel. Then, a series of targeted emails will help you move those leads through your sales funnel.
Consider Great Lakes again: The company was able to determine a lot of valuable information about their audience from the quiz, so they were able to immediately start discussing student-loan borrowing with their followers in their follow-up email campaign. However, if you were only able to collect a name and email address, you may have to start higher up in the funnel—creating basic awareness about the need for your product or company.
To make email campaigns a little easier, I recommend using an email service such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, AWeber, or Salesforce. These platforms integrate with the third-party form-building platforms mentioned earlier—so all the leads you collect are immediately added to an email list.
Every social media manager has the opportunity to bring extra value to his or her company and team by generating more leads on a daily basis. Add this skill to your resume, and you won’t only drive sales—you’ll add even more value and credibility to your role.