Brian Carroll

How to use social media for lead generation

I’ve been blogging for over five years. When I started, there wasn’t a business case on the ROI of blogging, nor was there a lot written on B2B lead generation. I started blogging because I wanted to share with everyone what I thought were useful B2B lead generation ideas, tips, and resources – material that I was already freely giving to my clients.

I have to say, my expectations were pretty low. I thought maybe I’d attract a few new clients, but I didn’t know it would generate so many leads, or develop into a book deal with a major publisher – who came to me, by the way. Blogging became a way to help build my company’s reputation, and your reputation helps people make conclusions about your brand.

Still not convinced that you should delve into social media? Maybe you think there’s no way to measure social media’s success. Here’s a case study that MarketingSherpa released earlier this month that follows one company through its social media adventure. In the end, the team’s analysis showed a dramatic correlation between the use of social media channels and the growth of the company’s Web traffic and leads. They showed a 155% increase in unique Web visitors and they also generated more links on non-brand search terms that helped boost their search engine results positions.

MarketingSherpa Members can view the case study at length.  Here’s a look at the 5 steps they took:

1.    Created a blog to start and join online conversations
Blogging and conversating brings in that human touch that I am forever pushing. It can seem like a daunting project, but this company set up an online monitoring system that helped them finetune their blog. They scanned the Web, the blogosphere, online fourms, and communities to find conversations relevant to their industry and their technical audience. An RSS feed gave the team something to review each morning. They used several scanning tools including TweetScan for Twitter posts, Google Alerts for industry terms, and Boardtracker.com to monitor technology forums and message boards.

When the scanning tools found a relevant conversation, such as a blog post, a team member would join that conversation and point readers to content on the same topic at the company website. The team also used their blog to write stories on subjects that had the potential to go viral. Those stories generated links from other industry blogs and articles in major trade publications.

2.    Established a Twitter account
The company used the account to supplement their blog. As I’ve written before, using social media tools like Twitter for lead generation, I have found Twitter to be helpful in this way.The company in the Case Study used tweets to post notices of new blogs and webinars, trivia questions, and informal focus group questions. An example: They conducted a poll of Twitter followers about potential names for the company newsletter.

3.    Created a LinkedIn group
The group also started a Facebook account, but found that the LinkedIn group began attracting members with the right professional backgrounds. The team established the group as a forum to discuss issues not related to the company or its products but issues related to network test equipment and security. Group members took the lead in starting conversations themselves, but the company acted as host, joining discussions when they had something to add in order to keep members engaged.

4.    Modified press release strategy for blogger coverage
The team revamped its press release strategy to encourage more online coverage for the company. This is what they did:

  • Released at least one new press release each week, and kept them short with links to sections of the company’s website.
  • Shifted release time from 8 a.m. EST to late morning/early afternoon to accommodate West Coast bloggers.
  • Published press releases using a service called PitchEngine, and posted to social media channels such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

5.    Promoted social media channels on company website and in email signatures
Under a “join us” headline, link visitors to your Facebook or LinkedIn groups. Employees’ email signatures should include links to all accounts as well.

6.    Measured growth of social media and Web traffic
The company made sure to track metrics to determine the growth of their various social media channels, such as unique blog page views, Twitter followers, and LinkedIn members. They also tracked a series of marketing metrics such as unique website visitors, traffic generated by SEO, leads, leads by source (inbound Web, email, trade shows, seminars, etc.), and marketing-influenced pipeline activity, by source. They compared metrics to look for correlations between activity in social media outlets and an increase in leads and sales pipeline activity.

Maybe you have some tips or other reading material suggestions for marketers who are interested in using social media to jumpstart their lead generation process. I’d love for you to pass those along.

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Human Touch, Lead Generation, Marketing Strategy, Sales Leads, Social Media, Thought Leadership, Weblogs, Word-of-Mouth



  1. | #1

    Hey Brian – Great list of ways companies can utilize social media. Lately, Twitter has been the talk of the town. Not only is it useful for pushing company news, deals, etc (as you mentioned) but also really useful as a brand management/customer relations tool.

    Also, I am going to have to borrow your LinkedIn group idea – Thanks!

  2. | #2

    Thanks for the summary Brian!

    In addition to starting a LinkedIn Group, I found responding to relevant questions in LinkedIn Answers helps position you/your company as a subject matter expert. This has generated incoming inquiries from the person posting the question or others reading the responses.

    And since the company used webinars, I would recommend creating a YouTube channel where edited versions of the webinars could be posted or posting the entire webinars on webinar aggregation sites. If posted on YouTube, you can include a link at the end of the video to the full webinar (using an unique URL for tracking purposes). Of course, monitor activity, respond to comments, and comment on other similar content on YouTube will help as well. You can also create a keyword strategy for YouTube, but that could be another post!

  3. | #3

    I’ve been watching your Twitter activities with interest. I’m a social media infant looking forward to standing upright and am ExCiteD!

    You are a great mentor. Thanks.

  4. rick
    | #4

    So did this work for you? Can this work for a non tech type public company where the aim is to increase the share price? any case studys? or just names of companies that do this outside of tech and consumer products?

  5. | #5

    Hi Brian, this is a very thorough list and I’m proud to be on the team at BreakingPoint (the company mentioned in the Marketing Sherpa case study). Pam O’Neal (@poneal on Twitter ) and myself have been aggressively integrating social marketing into our lead generation and lead qualification efforts. I blogged about this a bit more in details in my Social Media ROI post:

    http://www.engageinpr.com/2008/11/20/social-media-roi/

    Matthew–the LinkedIn Group has been a terrific generator for us, not only in terms of simple leads, but in fostering thought leadership and our community.

    Thanks again for the write up Brian.

    Kyle

  6. | #6

    Thanks for the post. Social media really is the way of the future. I am slowly learning more about how it all works, thanks for the tips.

  7. | #7

    Hi,

    Keen on leveraging more of this, myself.

    I think that there is both the visible social graph, but also an equally powerful “hidden” social graph that sales people can tap into and share with each other.

  8. | #8

    Thanks for this Brian!

    These are good fundamental steps that anyone can begin without too much effort.

    Its all about measuring the leads!

  9. Troy Bingham dialer
    | #9

    How do we know that many of these social media channels aren’t just a fad. There are already to many to keep track of.

  10. | #10

    great article – social media offers some great oppurtunities depending on the business you are int

  11. | #11

    Excellent post on connect Social Media to the Sales and Lead Generation process. I want to speak from experience, as a social media evangelist, that social media *is not* intended to be a lead-gen utility.

    Social media is about conversation, friendly engagement and consumer advocacy. Any leads generated from that are merely byproducts of successful [positive] interactions.

    For instance, with my company’s Twitter account (@Infusionsoft), we attract a considerably large audience. Our followers engage and click the helpful links we send them and opt into whitepapers, special offers or at least engage and give us feedback. Generally, most people on Twitter are researchers and don’t result in rapid sales decisions, but maintain trust and connection. We respect that and don’t use Twitter as a lead-gen resource.

    Any time I follow someone and they just turn into a pitch-machine, I just unfollow them. It’s simple as that. (And no leads or sales were generated from me.)

    ~Joe
    (@JoeManna on Twitter)

  12. | #12

    Brian,
    Great list! The key point here too is that any smart salesperson can start some of these activities on his own as he waits for his company to fully embrace social media. Presenting yourself as an expert in what you are selling and backing it up with your social content is a great sales differentiators.
    -Tom

  13. | #13

    Excellent point about using rss feeds, twitscan and others as a source for potential topics.

    Too many bloggers write for themselves and not for their audience. In any writing, intended audience should be a primary consideration.

    Jim Lodico
    http://www.socialmarketing20.com

  14. | #14

    We are in process of doing this for ourselves and our clients. The hard thing to understand is that the curve is sometimes longer than traditional ad buys. When you spent money on an add or even PPC you get an instant result. $5,000 on a print ad yields inquiries even if they are few. Social Media is a numbers game with a lot of seemingly busywork. The reality of it is that of your not building your database someone else is…lol Love to help. More random biz ramblings at http://www.DavidKamatoy.com

  15. | #15

    Social media is indeed useful to be known fast.

  16. | #16

    Fantastic! Social Media still eludes me but I’m ahead of where i was with it.
    Thanks

  17. | #17

    I am exploring social media further; however, I still get frustrated with the fact that it is hard to see measurable results. In a B2C business that sells products that most customers will buy once in their lifetime, it is hard to engage them in conversation. Perhaps I need to rethink the strategy and be more conversation focused than aggressively marketing the brand???

  18. | #18

    This is a fantastic overview of a company succeeding at incorporating social media into its marketing efforts. It is difficult to pinpoint a perfect formula for b2b social media marketing, but getting involved with it is the first step to success.

  19. | #19

    Great article Brian i think that in the next few years we will start to see a blended type of website show up that will combine Social and marketplace sort of a Linkedin meets Tradekey

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