Social media has changed the way people communicate, and that includes the ways that companies communicate their brand message. It’s where people collaborate, connect and share information. LinkedIn, in particular, is the hub for business conversations, often functioning as a central part of B2B interactions and lead generation strategies.
A recent article by Marketing Insider Group discusses the impact that social media has had on marketing strategies. In the article, it states that outbound marketing techniques are more expensive and “have been losing ground, and fast, to social media lead generation efforts.”
While it’s true that monitoring social media marketing may have less of an upfront cost than television advertising, for instance, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s cost-effective. For example, if your company’s marketing division hires a social media manager and their lead generation isn’t outpacing the salary you pay them, that’s a pretty pricey strategy.
The increasing popularity of social media as a distribution channel for content marketing isn’t in question. What marketers should be asking themselves, though, is whether they are getting a good return on their marketing investment when it comes to social media.
Just as importantly, before you decide on the mix of marketing channels you’ll use, you need to ask whether social media can effectively replace other channels. The answer, of course, is no. Social media is most effective when added to a mix of channels in order to improve your brand exposure and aid in lead generation.
Rivard discusses this disconnect, noting that according to a Software and Information Industry Association report, 96 percent of marketers are using social media as a distribution method but haven’t seen it result in actual revenue. Less than half (46 percent) of those responding believe that social media is effective for lead generation.
Social Media Shouldn’t Stand Alone in Your Distribution Strategy
After reading the paragraphs above, you may be saying to yourself, “Yes, this is our company. We are using social media because everyone says it’s the thing to do, but I’m not sure it’s growing our revenue at all.”
If it’s all sounding a little too familiar, the good news is that you don’t have to cut social media from your marketing strategy. What you need is a more integrated approach to your distribution efforts.
Don’t think of your distribution channels as independent, isolated silos, but consider which tools can be integrated together to produce a better return on investment for your marketing strategy. While social media is a great tool, it has its drawbacks. Many of those drawbacks can be solved by integrating social media marketing with a traditional method of marketing: telemarketing.
Rivard works through several challenges that companies encounter using social media for lead generation. Here’s a summary of each of those challenges and some practical tips on how telemarketing can work with your social media to close those gaps:
You are making assumptions about your audience. Maybe you’re assuming that, since you’re in B2B marketing, you should hang out on LinkedIn. When you post there, though, you get little to no response. Or maybe you know the platform you should use, but you’re forced to do a lot of trial and error when it comes to the format of your content.
Where telemarketing comes in: Conversations with members of your target audience provide rich insight into your audience, including where and how they spend time on social media and the kinds of formats they prefer to consume. Your return on investment for lead generation will improve when you’re creating the content that’s specific enough to be engaging for your target audience. Remember, though, that in order to do that, you need to know your audience first.
You’re not carrying the conversation. One of the most common mistakes in B2B social media marketing is the post that sits out there, whistling in the wind, with nobody talking about it or noticing it. You need to carry the conversation, using comments and questions to get a conversation rolling among your audience members.
Where telemarketing comes in: When you’re having proactive one-on-one conversations over the phone with your audience members, you’ll have a much better feel for the kinds of discussions that are happening in the industry. This is a proactive discussion, which enables you to reach out to your target audience instead of passively waiting and hoping to hear from them. This will not only shape your future content pieces and their accompanying questions, but it also enables you to generate leads in real time.
These conversations also help you move the contact into the next phase of the buy cycle. Even if you engage with a potential buyer on a social media site, it is difficult to turn that into a qualified lead in a B2B transaction on LinkedIn or Facebook. In a telephone conversation, though, you are able to move an individual from being interested in your product to considering making an investment by proactively answering questions and addressing concerns.
You’re in your own little world. Many companies make the mistake of treating social media like the new television ad spot, simply retooling their commercials into a social media-friendly blast about their products and services. This is not effective, and in the social media world makes you the online equivalent of that obnoxious friend that won’t stop bugging you to host a party for their home-based business. In other words, don’t pretend to be hanging out on social media to build relationships when you’re just there to sell.
Where telemarketing comes in: Of course, you are there to sell, but it’s about building relationships to bring in more customers and gain qualified leads. As a result, you need content that provides value to your target audience. You find out what those topics are through phone conversations with your target audience members. Listening to your contacts is significantly more important than them hearing who you are and what you do.
You don’t have a clear strategy. If you don’t know what your return on investment is for social media marketing, it’s time to measure it. Measuring the effectiveness of your various strategies is an important part of having a well-defined marketing plan. Create a schedule that is designed to regularly post high-quality, valuable content according to a content calendar, and measure what’s resulting in leads.
Where telemarketing comes in: Telemarketing helps you refine your marketing plan. It’s easy to calculate your return on investment for telemarketing, so you’ll know quickly that it’s boosting your lead generation efforts as a complement to social media marketing. Knowing that your channels are cost-effective helps your marketing plan stay lean and focused, rather than aimlessly throwing a mix of marketing methods into your lead generation efforts.
Social media is a highly-effective way to boost your lead generation results, if you use telemarketing in conjunction with it to refine your strategy. If you’re ready to see a better return on investment for your social media spending, give Blue Valley Telemarketing a call. We can help you create a comprehensive marketing plan that gives you the best lead generation results for your investment.