Lead Generation through Social Media: Sharing Content

Social media gives businesses the perfect platform to share their expertise in a personal, human way. And because the nature of social media lends itself well to content sharing, you can get access to the networks of your followers through an emphasis on peer-to-peer influence marketing.

A recent study from Nielsen showed that only 33 percent of buyers believe what a brand has to say about itself because people view brand-to-buyer communication as advertising. However, if a buyer gets valuable insight from a peer, he is much more likely to pay attention. By sharing valuable content on social channels, you can tap into the power of peer-to-peer communication and word of mouth.

Sharing on social media and leveraging the power of your followers' sharing network has significant benefits, such as

  • Increased brand authenticity

  • Generating a lead at a low cost

  • Increased trust

  • Increased network reach

  • Access to new opportunities

Time spent sharing on social media can yield impressive lead-generation results. Five golden rules of social media marketing that you should keep in mind when you start developing your campaigns:

  • Don't take yourself too seriously. Social media is about being social, and that means you need to have a good personality in order to make your brand likable so that people will want to follow you.

  • Have great content and good offers. Without well-produced, engaging content, any tactics you employ will most likely fail.

  • You need a strong call-to-action (CTA). A strong CTA is just as important in your social media strategy as everywhere else. Be clear about what you want your audience to do after consuming your content or engaging with your brand.

  • Always add value. At the end of the day, if you are not providing your prospects and customers some sort of value, you are not doing your job, and social media ultimately won't drive leads.

  • Social media is a two-way street. No one likes being talked at. Yes, you can broadcast your message, but remember to keep the lines of communication open in both directions. When contacted, always respond quickly and sincerely. Be sure to mix up your messaging and use a combination of content and offers.

Utilizing the 4-1-1 rule

So what should you share on social channels? You need to have a good mix of educational and promotional content. You can use the 4-1-1 rule to designate what should be shared on social channels. The 4-1-1 rule was popularized by Tippingpoint Labs and Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi and was initially created to use on Twitter.

The rule states that, "For every self-serving tweet, you should retweet one relevant tweet and most importantly, share four pieces of relevant content written by others." Now, you don't have to follow this exactly. The relevant four pieces of content can be written by your company. It is fine to share your own content as long as these pieces are educational. Plus, you want people to fill out forms for your content pieces, so this is critical. Remember, early-stage leads won't fill out forms to get a datasheet if they have never heard about your company, so offering them valuable content prompts them to share their information.

The 4-1-1 formula can easily be applied to each of the social networks. As an example, say you work for a vitamin company and are creating your social media editorial calendar for the day. Your posts might look like the following:

Post 1: Promotional. Information on our weekend 30-percent-off women's vitamins sale.
Post 2: Relevant content from others. Retweet or share an article from The New York Times on the importance of taking a multivitamin every day.
Post 3: Educational content from a well-respected industry thought leader. Ebook on the right mix of vitamins during pregnancy.
Post 4: Educational content from company. Infographic on the increase of vitamin intake since 2007.
Post 5: Educational content from company. Blog post on the best new vitamins for 2014.
Post 6: Educational content from company. Ebook on what ingredients to look for in your vitamins.

Creating contagious content

In order for your content to be Liked and shared on social channels, it has to be contagious — fun, interesting, and shareable. You won't get very far creating a true social following if all you post is self-promotional items. Why would someone want to tell everyone in her network that your company won some random award? Despite what you might think, she probably wouldn't. But what would she share? Maybe a fun meme that you created to promote your new ebook or an announcement of a contest that you are hosting.

The key to effective lead generation on social channels is a solid social following. People won't be tempted to fill out your forms on social channels if you aren't posting anything interesting.

But what does work on social channels? Content that is visual, interactive, and often amusing prompts people to look at, share, and interact with your content. The more people who interact and share your content, the more leads you can get.

A great social post for lead generation has the following characteristics:

  • Compelling messaging

  • Eye-catching visuals

  • Mass-audience appeal and shareability

  • A clear CTA

  • A tone that conveys personality

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