Social Media Guide for IT and Software Companies
April 27, 2016
For better or for worse, social media isn’t a fad. It’s not going away and it is completely changing the way the human race communicates on a daily basis. In the midst of this social media revolution, Information & Technology (IT) and software companies have been creating better and faster business solutions every day. However, in an increasingly busy marketplace, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. Given this state of affairs, IT and software companies have had to rely more and more on lead generation to be successful in the modern marketplace.
Business lead generation directly affects revenue by becoming a constant source of loyal, passionate customers. However, traditional outbound lead generation activities can be expensive. And what’s more, these old school practices have been losing ground, and fast, to social media lead generation efforts.
Lead generation via social media channels is simple, fast, and effective. According to Quick Sprout, social media’s ‘lead to close’ chances are higher by 100 percent when compared to outbound marketing. Twitter accounts for 82 percent of all social leads while 40 percent of marketing professionals believe that Facebook is crucial for business marketing.
Social media-based lead generation delivers a winning punch, as it can increase sales with a smaller price tag. Statistics show that businesses can increase their revenue by 24 percent when they use social media to generate leads. This makes it a relatively inexpensive way of increasing your website traffic. It also gives a considerable boost to your brand’s online exposure. With the right tools and training, the sky’s the limit on social media.
Isn’t it time your company benefited from the social media revolution?
Common Social Media Lead Generation Campaign Mistakes
Although social lead generation has enormous potential, many marketers are still frustrated when they get results. According to the 2015 Software Marketing Industry Report from the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA), 96 percent of marketers use social media but struggle to turn their efforts into actual revenue
SIIA conducts a yearly survey of over 100 marketing executives about the tools and platforms they use. In 2015, findings showed that less than half (46 percent) of marketers think social media is effective for lead generation. This may seem disheartening, but what’s more revealing is that half of the participants said their companies dedicate just 10 hours or less to most social media-based marketing campaigns. The cold hard truth of the matter is that social media marketing is a long-term activity and that short, sporadic bursts of usage will never lead to the realization of its full potential.
The key is to define what role social media plays in business lead generation. Keep in mind that while the primary objective of every lead generation effort is to create sales, social media is NOT a selling platform.
Here are some of the mistakes and challenges tech marketers face when kick-starting their social media lead generation efforts.
You Don’t Know Your Audience
First of all, create an audience profile. Who are you trying to attract? Are they young professionals or middle-aged executives? What are they interested in? How active are they on social media? Do you know what social media channels your audience likes? Are they getting their information from LinkedIn? Or should you be targeting Instagram? B2B marketers must know the answers to these questions before diving into the social media lead gen game.
Knowing your audience and the channels they’re on is the first step to creating a social media-based lead generation strategy. The web is full of people who are looking for helpful content to consume. However, if you’re not specific about who you’re talking to, you can end up posting content until you’re blue in the face, but accomplish very little.
Your content needs to echo the interests of your desired market, and knowing who they are will help you develop relevant, funny, and top-quality material.
You Don’t Carry the Conversation
Now that you’ve defined your audience, the next step is to determine what they want by starting a conversation with them. You can do this by regularly publishing your content on targeted social media channels.
One of the biggest mistakes tech marketers make is posting content and simply leaving it there, thinking that someone will eventually engage with it. No matter how relevant, timely, or creative your posts are, if you don’t engage your audience in an online conversation, they’ll be unlikely to engage with your brand.
One of the most effective ways to start an online conversation is to accompany a post with an open-ended question. For instance, instead of simply posting a tech-related content piece about summer, why not follow up by asking your followers where they are planning to spend time under the sun? Posts are generally much easier to relate to when the content addresses lifestyle and not just business.
The great thing about social media is that it multi-tasks. You can use it to increase your online presence and boost the shareability of your content. Meanwhile, you also stand to get a truckload of information about your audience that you wouldn’t usually be able to access. Maybe you have a lot of beach-loving followers or perhaps some of them enjoy backpacking around the world. Generating this kind of information will help you craft your subsequent content to fit your target market’s interests.
Another tactic is to talk to your customers! You can do this in the comments section of your Facebook or blog or through @ reply posts on Twitter. This is an excellent chance to let your audience know that your brand listens to what they have to say. It also humanizes your company’s social media accounts. Nothing beats being helpful and/or (appropriately) funny when it comes to social media campaigns.
You Don’t Stay Aware of Your Surroundings
Just because you have a huge social media following doesn’t mean you can consider each one a buyer. Not all of your social media followers are interested in buying anything from your company ever. Perhaps they like the brand endorser, or maybe they find your tweets interesting. So remember that just because they followed, liked, commented, and shared does not inevitably mean that they are interested in making a purchase.
Social media can generate leads, but tech marketers need to understand the social dynamics and the netizen’s (citizen of the net) journey. Many IT and software companies make mistakes by using social media as a ‘pitching platform’ to sell products and services. Don’t make the same mistake!
In social media-based lead generation, tech marketers should focus on the production of top-quality content that is valuable to a highly connected audience. Tech marketers should use it to educate and build trust. Similar to fishing, you need to hook them first before tugging your audience toward acquisition.
You Don’t Have a Clear Online Strategy
Tech marketers can get lucky with one share-worthy post that goes viral. But remember, online content can go viral for all the wrong reasons. Another mistake is not having a clear online strategy that defines future social media marketing efforts, as one viral post can only get you so far.
Every IT and software company serious about its social media-based lead generation strategy should have an editorial calendar to maintain consistency. Editorial calendars should guide tech marketers on what to post, when to post, and which social media channel to use and ensure that each piece of content will get the best possible chance of targeted exposure.
Marketers can’t just post content whenever they feel like it. Each social media post should be professionally made, backed up by facts, and most importantly, approved internally.
Allotting a specific day and time to post online content will keep your social media initiatives from becoming erratic and unpredictable. A constant social media campaign will ensure that your lead generation results are consistent.
You Don’t Know Where Your Audience Is
There are 1.44 billion active users on Facebook every month, but that doesn’t mean you should put all of your eggs in one basket. Recent statistics also show that LinkedIn is the top social media platform for most B2B marketers, but your specific target market might not use LinkedIn all that much. So, what should you do?
You need to go back to your target audience profile and analyze their social media consumption habits. It is also important to note that every social media platform has a particular image and tone. For instance, LinkedIn posts are more formal than Facebook posts, even if they come from the same brand.
Tweaking the same material to develop platform-specific content published across various sites will help maintain your brand’s message while staying consistent with posting styles that users have come to expect.
Now that we’ve walked through some of the mistakes tech marketers can make on social media, let’s dive into the specifics of marketing on particular social media platforms.
Social Media Platform Tips
Lead Generation on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is trying to position itself as the go-to social media channel for business, and they’ve largely succeeded. A recent Weber Shandwick study found that LinkedIn was the top social media choice for CEOs. A similar report by Domo and CEO.com found that among the Fortune 500 CEOs who only have one social media profile, 73 percent are on LinkedIn.
Here’s how to reach out to the ultimate decision-makers on LinkedIn:
- Search for connections and request an introduction. LinkedIn’s connection hierarchy helps keep the platform exclusive and professional. Find a common connection between you and the profile you want to connect with, and request an introduction.
- Join groups and participate in discussions. There are various groups you can join on LinkedIn, and getting engaged in a group is one of the easiest ways to connect with people without the need for a shared connection. Make sure to be helpful and authentic and always engage on topics that you’re genuinely interested in.
- Check out who’s viewed your profile. Make it a habit to check who’s viewed your profile on LinkedIn. You can take it one step further and message anyone who’s taken a peek at your profile to see if you can help them with anything. This is a great way to start a conversation and create a new connection.
- Play fair when building your lead list. Always ask to be introduced to people who do not know you. Adding people left and right without actually knowing them, or worse, when you have no shared connections at all, will make you seem untrustworthy.
- Stay active and relevant. Staying active on LinkedIn doesn’t just mean adding people every day. Nurture potential leads by publishing relevant, timely, and informative content. This will remind people why they connected with you in the first place. Use your editorial calendar to help ensure that your LinkedIn campaign is at the top of its game.
Lead Generation on Facebook
Facebook has approximately 936 million daily active users, and about 83 percent of them are outside of the United States. Facebook remains a top choice for most marketers because of its massive number of active daily users and relative ease of use.
Here are some ways you can leverage Facebook’s vast reach:
- Play nice. Facebook is all about engagement, and they have rules. As a tech marketer, you are representing your company on a huge platform. So stay professional!
- Set up pages. Build an audience. Join groups. Create an official Facebook page for your company to build an audience. Apart from publishing relevant content and engaging with your audience online, extend the conversation outside the official page by joining groups and bringing in outsiders.
- Use a simple, short vanity URL. When you first create an official Facebook page, you’ll notice that the URL is just a combination of characters. Choose a good vanity URL that you can share outside of Facebook— in print, TV, radio ads and other social media platforms. Keep it short and simple so it’s catchy and easier to remember.
- Go for paid ads. Investing in regular paid ads can help you reach a wider audience. If you haven’t done it before, try it once and measure the returns on your investment to see if it’s an effective tool worth consideration in the future.
- Create online brand ambassadors. Chances are, you’ll find very active users who visit your page. Empower these individuals by transforming them into online brand ambassadors. Bring in bloggers or even celebrities, which is an excellent way to introduce your brand to new audiences.
- Engage. Now that you’ve set up your online stage, it’s time to engage. Answer queries in a timely fashion and respond to any comments that mention your brand. If users are mentioning positive things about your brand, thank them. If users post negative comments about your brand, ask them why and respond empathetically if they tell you their problem.
Lead Generation on Twitter
A staggering 82% of social media-generated leads come from Twitter. Social media is all about connecting with an audience; that’s why 74% of companies use Twitter to distribute content.
Here are some clever ways to generate potential leads with a tweet:
- Schedule your tweets. Analyze your audience to see what time of the day they are most likely to be online. Allocating a specific time during the day for your Twitter tasks is a good practice.
- Use Bitly.com. Twitter is popular because the content is short, fast, and fuss-free. If you want to share article links, use bitly.com to shorten your URLs and track how many clicks they receive.
- Easy on the hashtags. Keep your hashtags to a minimum one or two hashtags per post are enough. Nobody wants to read tweets with the ‘#’ symbol all over it.
- Go for paid tweets and ads. Just like Facebook ads, paid tweets and ads are good ways to reach a wider audience. However, make sure to segment your audience when rolling out paid ads. Customizing your ads to target specific audiences will help your ROI, providing more audience engagement and increasing click-through rates.
Lead Generation on YouTube
About 77% of small businesses have used YouTube for marketing purposes. To date, videos are the fastest-growing type of content on the web. IT and software companies can harness the conversion powers of video content by producing a good mix of tutorials and marketing videos.
Cisco predicted that by 2019, about 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic would be generated by internet video traffic. That’s huge!
Here are some fantastic ways to tap into the power of video traffic using YouTube:
- Create a YouTube Channel. A single video is not enough. You have to come up with regular high-quality video content to keep your audience’s attention. Creating a YouTube channel will help you organize what you publish and help users find your content.
- Create top-quality content. Make sure your video content is something worth sharing. Keep your videos short, informative, and entertaining, and people will talk about them for months. Don’t limit yourself to tutorials. Even if you’re selling technology, there are many ways to spin it to make things more interesting.
- Use keywords in the video title. A good video title does half of the job of getting your audience’s attention if they happen to come across a social link. But adding keywords to your video’s title will help people find it if they’re simply firing up a Google search.
- Add relevant links to your YouTube videos. Embedding a URL that leads to your company’s landing page or Facebook page is an excellent way to lead your audience from one social media platform to another. If viewers want to learn more, don’t make it hard for them to get to your site.
- Serialized videos. If you have a social media campaign, supplement it with YouTube video content and release it as a series. This is a good tactic to engage your visitors and followers multiple times.
- Share! Don’t depend on YouTube alone. Share the videos across all of your social media channels to generate more leads from various touchpoints.
Lead Generation on Other Social Media Platforms
When generating leads with social media, it’s crucial to reach out to your audience using channels you’ve targeted as being popular with your audience. The four platforms mentioned above are a jumping-off point, especially for B2B companies. These four platforms are the most widely used by global audiences, with LinkedIn, the hands-down winner for B2B companies.
Content Marketing and Social Media
Content marketing and social media go hand in hand. You need to have a good content marketing machine backing up your social media efforts to give your brand the best exposure. Here are some other content types (aside from blogs/posts) that you can create for easy promotion on social media:
- Whitepapers/Guides. Whitepapers are in-depth, authoritative reports. These are the academic version of a company’s marketing content. Unlike eBooks and guides, whitepapers are meant to be purely educational, making them one of the least popular but most useful content types available.
- eBooks. eBooks are generally meant to be more entertaining than whitepapers but also need to be educational. Design is fundamental because eBooks without colors, images, and great formatting are generally not considered worth reading.
- Infographics. Infographics generally tend to get more views, shares and likes than other content types because they are a great way to provide helpful information in a striking visual format. However, keep in mind that good infographics can be expensive to produce, so either figure out a cost-effective production method or don’t do it.
Capping Things Off
Generating leads through social media is a great way to stand out from the crowd. An excellent social media strategy can help you connect and build relationships with audiences you may not have been able to engage with otherwise.
If you put the work into building a fabulous brand presence online today, you won’t have to worry about the shape of your sales funnel tomorrow. So keep these points in mind and start taking advantage of social media to stay one more step ahead of the competition.