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A New Wave of Social Selling: Defining The Social Lead

Social media continues to change the way we do business. It’s changing how we interact with our customers, partners, suppliers and even our colleagues. It’s changed the way we do business and has changed the way we tell our brands story.

For years, we’ve looked at the concept of a business lead through the lens of a transaction. We’ve looked at a lead as a potential sales opportunity. Yet, in the past, we didn’t live in a world that was as connected as it is today. Right now. As you read this text, there are potentially hundreds of conversations about your industry, brand and offering. Some of these conversations will be highly relevant to your business while others will be nothing more than noise. Those conversations that are both relevant and engageable are what we define as a Social Lead. It’s actionable. It’s relevant. And it’s timely.

Social leads are what our platform delivers to our clients on a daily basis. We sift through the noise and find the signals that are true business opportunities for them to engage with. We’ve put together this slideshow to show you the power of social selling while redefining the social lead:

 

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The Three Ways that DMO’s Should Be Using Social Media

Over the years, I’ve been privileged to work with a wide range of companies in the Tourism space. Whether we’re talking about Bed & Breakfasts or DMOs with millions of dollars in budget; I’ve seen it all. It’s an industry that is both complex but sophisticated. It’s one that has wide range of challenges but also filled with opportunity to drive meaningful and measurable results.

One specific vertical in Tourism that has always interested me, is the role of a DMO (Destination Marketing Organization). A DMO is typically a government funded agency that is responsible for developing and selling the brand for a specific destination. It’s their job to promote and highlight the activities, operators, landmarks and stories that make their destination attractive to new visitors.

Since the birth of social media, there’s been some great success stories in the Tourism space. Destinations from all over the globe have done a great job in building their brand on a high level through compelling advertising and communications tactics. But has it truly resulted in new visitors? More bums in seats and heads in beds? That’s still to be determined but here’s a few approaches that can surely help:

1. Tourist Identification
It’s not easy to create or measure a positive ROI on social media, but it is possible. The first thing DMO’s need to do is identify who it is they’re looking to bring to their destination. From there, it’s time to implement tactics that start to build their funnel as it relates to potential visitors.

Studies show that the web is the primary source of information for people planning their holidays and vacations. It’s the internet that leads them to sites like TripAdvisor to scan thousands of user generated reviews or social media to get a third party opinion from one of their friends or followers. This is where ROI is hidden.

As more and more people send out messages asking if they should visit Italy or Greece; there’s an increasing opportunity for DMO’s to get involved. It’s an opportunity for destinations to take one of three approaches:

  1. Aggressive Sale: In this approach, the DMO responds to the user by expressing how they’d love to have them. Additionally, the DMO could express that they would be happy to help ensure the trip is a memorable one. It’s the ideal approach and it’s one that can quickly lead to results.
  2. Passive Engagement: In this approach, the DMO favourites a users tweet letting them know they’re listening and on Twitter. This approach is more subtle but still effective. It gets the DMO on their radar but it doesn’t involve the direct sale.
  3. Accept Status Quo: In this approach, a DMO does what the majority of DMO’s are currently doing. They don’t respond, they don’t engage and they watch a potential tourist make their decision without any involvement. It’s a sure-fire way to leave dollars on the table and throw an opportunity out the door.

Before you start any of your tourist identification campaign, you should identify a process in which you will manage the various opportunities. The reason you want to identify a process is because some users will want additional support through the phone or email while others will simply communicate through social.

Once you start seeing the results from your tourist identification campaigns, you can start investing in long-term processes that will truly change the way you do business. You will start to share these insights with various operators in your destination so they too can benefit from the power of social selling.

2. Tourist Delight
Bringing the Wow to customers has always been one of the greatest benefits of using social media. In tourism, delivering that “wow moment” is easier than most industries because people are frequently frustrated with delays and cancellations. As such, there’s a huge opportunity for DMO’s to communicate with Tourists while they’re at their destination to further enhance their experience.

One way of delivering a sense of delight is to monitor the various conversations related to their destination and look out for people sharing pictures, vines or anything relevant that further tells a destinations story. Upon seeing this content, a DMO should engage with the user in authentic tone expressing that they’re grateful that they’ve visited and that they hope their trip is amazing. Furthermore, a DMO looking to make a biggest splash could even give users special perks or additional information that makes their trip memorable.

3. Tourist Satisfaction
If you ask anyone who has recently gone on vacation, how was it, they will typically light up with excitement at the chance to share with you the details of their vacation. A vacation is one of those experiences that people never forget and that they love to talk about and share. But all sharing isn’t created equal.

Some people go above and beyond the typical “Back from Vacation – OMG, looking forward to going back!” In fact, some people create blogs to showcase their experience and even document their travels with photo albums shared online. It’s the impact of technology and a driving factor of what other tourists will consume to make their choices on where they’ll visit and what they’ll do.

DMO’s should be on the look out for people who are leaving or just arrived home after visiting their destination. It’s these folks who are still salivating about their awesome experience and are stuck in vacation mode.That means destinations still have a window of opportunity to further build that brand affinity and relationship with the user.

Striking up a post-vacation conversation to ask someone what they liked they most or if they’d mind writing a review on Trip Advisor is an easy sell during the first few days after a vacation. It’s these little things that will influence the decisions of others considering your destination and ultimately drive an increase in visits.

What are some other ways that DMOs can use social media to drive success?

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#SocialSelling: Breaking Down the Anatomy of a Social Lead

When I joined the team at LeadSift in November 2012 I was excited for the new challenge. The opportunity to work with such an early stage startup was exhilarating. LeadSift was going to take the idea of social lead generation suggested by social media monitoring platforms and make it a reality.  Over the last five years social media monitoring platforms were built around playing defence for your brand,  LeadSift was ready to help implement some offence into the hands of community teams.

Reflecting back to 2011 when I was selling a full suite monitoring platform, our pitch actually referred to “social ROI” as the “Return on Ignoring”. Companies were quick to purchase a monitoring platform after positioning a need to manage their reputation across social media; whether it was being first to know about a PR crisis erupting, ensuring no customer service issues were going viral, or managing product recalls, social media monitoring was adopted by many organizations overnight.

However, three years later organizations continue to struggle with their social media monitoring strategies. As a result, many niche organizations are evolving to a space where they make it easier for brands to do more than protect or share content, they are allowing  them to better participate in the relevant conversations. 2013 was coined to be the year that 1-1 engagement would happen – thankfully there are 4 months left to do so.

The plan at LeadSift is simple –  using our robust algorithm we find relevant sales leads based on geography; whether it be globally, nationally, or locally.  We then allow you to instantly engage from your social presence to begin the conversation and initiate the sales cycle.  Once you respond through LeadSift’s platform you are able to manage the conversations, track response rate, CTR, and provide additional analytics.  Our team has continued to build the platform to include additional analytics, a LeadScore, and advanced demographics to better understand the person you are engaging with.  This added information allows more insight to your audience and the opportunity to add a bit of personality as you engage.  LeadSift continues to evolve it’s platform in real- time as we incorporate the voice of our clients into our new features and adjust as we go.

Here is the textbook definition of a lead:

“ A lead, in a marketing context, is a potential sales contact: an individual or organization that expresses an interest in your goods or services. Leads are typically obtained through the referral of an existing customer, or through a direct response to advertising/publicity. A company’s marketing department is typically responsible for lead generation.”

In the past several months I have had the opportunity to discuss social leads with hundreds of business and organizations from a wide range of  industries and the general consensus is that social leads are no different than any other leads. They are “a potential sales contract”, or they “ express an interest in your goods/services”, or they are a “direct response to your advertising/marketing”

There are instances where businesses are set on only looking for “transactional leads” but then I always ask, “How do you start the transaction?”  To begin any true transaction discussion, you need to uncover their actual needs, and the only way to do so is through engagement. Whether one chooses to engage with a tweet back, reply with a question, or suggest a link to a website or other related content, social leads need to be nurtured along the path to a sale.  LeadSift has expanded the concept of a social lead to target any engagement activity that supports the brand’s presence socially.  After all, the reason we all create content and a presence in social media is to ultimately sell the products and services we offer.   We are always selling.

We can generally group the social engagement lead into 5 types:

  • Direct sales lead: The post directly states intent to purchase a product or service
  • Indirect sales lead (Also known as the Competitive lead/ Customer service lead) : The post mentions dissatisfaction with a competitive product or service. This allows you to engage, grab their attention, and ultimately position yourself as a better option.
  • Targeted social engagement: Finding relevant conversations in a targeted geography allowing you to engage and build your community presence.
  • Nice guy lead: Finding relevant conversations within a given geography and engage as a trusted community member.
  • Fan Identification lead: Finding a relevant influencer of your brand or product and working with them as an influencer.

Call them what you will, the one thing that is still missing from the “social lead “ is #hustle. Thanks to LeadSift,  beginning social selling has never been easier. If all you are interested in is collecting followers and trying to understand how a bunch of graphs and widgets will help your business socially – good luck! If you are ready to take the next step and begin engaging with the active community that is currently discussing your products or services we should chat. At LeadSift we believe organizations don’t “do” social, they “are” social.

Do you know a brand that is doing a great job with their social engagement strategy?

We would love to highlight them as the rest of the market catches up.

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How to Cultivate Leads from Social Media into Sales

Traditionally, lead nurturing has been seen as a process between a salesman and a prospect. It has been an ongoing process of phone calls and direct mail pieces. Over time, lead nurturing became exclusively connected to email-driven campaigns. Today however, the landscape has shifted and email, phone calls and direct mail are no longer the only opportunities that exist for lead nurturing.

Today, consumers are turning to social media for product recommendations, feedback, reviews and brand connections. As the general public becomes more reliant on social media to build loyal connections with people and brands alike, businesses need to integrate lead nurturing and social media to build stronger relationships with potential customers.

According to a ATYM Market Research study, of the 2,000 internet users in the US surveyed, 85% are on Facebook and 49% have a Twitter account with most of them visiting these sites on a daily basis. This research also revealed that social media and purchase decisions are closely linked – with prospects being 71% more likely to purchase a product if they’ve been referred directly through social media.

So how can you build stronger relationships with your leads through social media? Here are three ways you can make that happen:

Be human, have conversations
When a brand is nurturing their relationship with a lead through social media it becomes important to remember that the person on the other side of the computer is a human not a number or twitter handle. Your customers, followers, and the lead you’re pursuing need to be approached like you would want to be approached online. Thus, it’s important to approach these relationships as if you are connecting face-to-face and put time and effort into developing a human connection.

Don’t focus on yourself; focus on what’s important to them. Don’t be afraid to avoid talking about your product and instead discuss personal interests. Avoid corporate speak and spark conversations by humanizing your brand and presenting a personality. But be sincere and steer away from trying to sell them. This will help build trust and relationships that can be leveraged into sales.

Connect on other social networks
It’s easier than ever to find online information about someone than ever before. Once you have identified a lead, connect with them across a variety of social networks to allow your brand to stay top of mind and nurture your relationship. Most people have a presence on more than one social platform such as a Twitter account, LinkedIn profile, Facebook, Quora and Google+ accounts.

Building a lasting relationship with a potential lead requires you to also have a presence across various social networks. The key to engaging potential leads is to reach them with the same and/or similar messages in the many online spaces where they regularly interact.

While you’re there, engage! Mention people in your blog, re-tweet them, comment on their blog postings, “like” and “share” their content. And if you want to understand them, go hang out where they do, such as in LinkedIn Groups and Quora.

Efforts like these are more challenging for businesses that operate in high volume, low margin industries but for those in low volume, high margin industries; these efforts and knowledge can provide you with a real competitive advantage.

Share the Right Content With the Right People
With 30 billion pieces of content shared on Facebook per month and another 60 million tweets posted daily, now more than ever people are bombarded with content online. It’s important that your business recognizes the role content plays in the customer context and ensure that the content you’re developing and delivering is content that they will find valuable.

Their various streams of news and updates are consistently populated with ideas, opinions and messages. As a result, consumers are filtering out everything that isn’t relevant to them. If your content is not relevant it will be ignored.

Relevant content is the muscle behind lead nurturing success.

Identifying the right content isn’t difficult. Start by listening – is there a problem or concern that you can solve? What is the sentiment of the conversation? Is there a need that you can satisfy? From there, create content that fills this pain point.

Once you have an understanding of the situation, deliver content that has value and is relevant to the specific lead. But remember, what’s valuable to one potential customer may not be to another. Ensure that your messages are specific to the need of each lead and treat each relationship uniquely.

Five Effective Ways to Make Sales & Social Media Align

Over the last couple years it appears that everyone is talking about how to use social media to generate sales. Ultimately, the discussion comes down to “Can activity on social media be translated to actual revenue?” Simply put, yes. Social media can result in revenue for your business but it’s not as simple as turning on an account and sending out a few messages. The trick is to overcome the vanity metrics like number of followers and likes and focus on what actions translate into sales.

Here are a few ways that you can ensure that social media and sales are aligned and ultimately working together to achieve an increase in revenue & profits:

Develop a Lead Treasure Chest
Your treasure chest should include everything you need from a content perspective to close a sale. It’s not as simple as creating a few case studies and calling it a day either. You need to develop a wide variety of tools, tactics and pieces of content that can help your sales & social media team get closer to conversion. For example: Guides on how to use your product, success stories, email newsletters, niche landing pages, in-person events and audience relevant blog posts, all establishes credibility and helps customers find what they need.

Identify Success stories of Cold Leads
Some leads are better than others. They have a high probability to be closed and take less time to get from prospect to customer. For that reason, the industry tends to place a lot more emphasis and focus on generating warm leads instead of cold ones. These leads are great but social media presents businesses with an opportunity to turn cold leads warm quite quickly. Sales and social media must work together to identify how they have converting cold leads in the past and build a sales funnel that will increase their chances to convert.

Analyze Your Social Media Efforts
At the end of every quarter you should be looking closely at the results of your efforts. You need to be looking not only at the number of visits to your site and number of followers you have on twitter but also track where your new customers came from. Identify what channels are the most effective and see what type of process is leading to the success stories and what are leading to failures. Focusing on metrics is important if you’re focused on the right type.

Show Sales the Return on Social Media
While it’s common thinking among those who live and breathe social media that it can result in revenue; the folks leading sales aren’t always convinced. Thus, it’s important that the folks managing social media  on behalf of your brand communicate with sales to see the results. Whether that’s sharing an excel sheet with the leads that came in through the blog or the contact info for someone inquiring about a product on Twitter; anything you can show to validate the worth of social media internally is a great way to get everyone on the same page.

Clearly Identify a Sales/Social Media Strategy
If you’re still struggling to integrate social media and sales, it’s not the channel that is often to blame, but the strategy you’ve developed or haven’t developed. If you want to convert prospects on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora, Linkedin or any other social channel, you have to drive likely prospects and customers there with compelling content & items worth talking about. From there, you have to give them an opportunity and reason to convert. If you can do that, sales and social media will not align but also result in success.