Social Media Marketing

The Only Way to Effectively Use Social Media to Generate and Nurture B2B Leads

Social media is taking over the world.

Today, there are approximately 3 BILLION active social media users worldwide.

Let that sink in for a minute.

That’s almost half the entire world’s population!

And with more users signing up for platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn each passing day, penetration of social media is unstoppable.

Being an active participant on these channels has become a requirement for staying connected with loved ones, friends from the past, career opportunities, etc.

For businesses that sell services or products to other businesses, social media can be a great source of leads. Particularly if you know what your target customers look like.

The tactics I’m about to share aren’t run-of-the-mill “tips and tricks” that everyone else is already promoting.

These are the tactics we actually use – successfully! – to reach out to and engage with potential leads.

Ready to find out what really works?

 

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Step # 1 – Stalk Your Leads (Not In A Scary Way!)

Social media is a medium on which people share information about themselves.

Because of this, any time you approach a prospect on social, you have to be personal. This includes what you say in your outreach message.

Doesn’t this ad from Slack feel like it’s meant just for you?

personalized facebook ad

That’s because they have identified who their target customers are and a pain point they face.

To replicate this, first identify who your target customers (or leads) are.

Not every Facebook user is going to be interested in hearing from you.

If you aren’t sure who to target, read our audience analysis post where we break the process of identifying valuable prospects into easy to follow steps.

Once you know who your target customers are, it’s time to learn about them.

Here’s how you do this:

Look up your prospect on various social platforms.

If you find any activity from a potential lead on a platform, start following them (no matter how big or small the network is).

You’re going to revisit their social pages repeatedly over time to create a detailed profile on this lead.

An easy way to do this is to create a checklist of questions to help you discern a prospect’s likes and dislikes each time you browse their profile.

Make sure you’re not limiting yourself only to business-related information.

Drill into their social profile to identify personal details, history, interests, passions, etc.

digest social profile

Personal details such as your prospect liking dogs over cats or preferring baseball over basketball can be put to good use when constructing your outreach message.

When you’re confident that you know your lead well enough, it’s time to make yourself heard.

Outreach messages most likely to get their attention are those that are helpful.

For example, if you know your prospect is headed to San Francisco, let them know about a great Italian place (especially since you know they like Italian).

Did they recently win or lose a competition?

Offer your condolences or a hearty congratulation.

The idea behind this tactic is to play your P.A.R.T.

While it’s good to be involved and helpful, it’s NOT cool to be creepy.

If you start a dialogue with your prospect with a lead-in like:

“Remember when your cat died?”:(

Your message is heading straight to the “blocked” bin.

Instead, focus on your prospect’s passions. If he or she is into sports, connect over the latest team stats, for example.

A message like, “The rookie’s pitching was weak! Why do you think coach still put him out there?” is likely to engage their drive to indulge in some armchair quarterbacking.

Making reference to personal interests gives you an extra edge over your competition when it comes time for action.

And by all means, this tactic isn’t limited to the online space.

The cool pharmaceutical rep that jovially sparred with you over the latest draft picks is going to elicit more feelings of acceptance and camaraderie than the random dude that sent a generic “free samples” outreach message.

I used this same strategy all the time when I worked retail at a men’s shoe store.

I’m not an avid sports fan, but my customers were.

So what did I do?

I made it a point to listen to the sports report every day on my way to work.

By the time I got in, I always knew about last night’s amazing game-winning catch or the latest commentator gossip about how a coach was likely to be fired.

When sports aficionados came into the store, I had something to talk to them about.

This helped me establish a connection and commonality that made me relatable.

When I made a purchase, upsell, or cross-sale recommendation, my suggestions were perceived as friendly rather than “salesman-ey.”

By doing this, I never had to worry about hitting my target.

Step # 2 – Be everywhere

Establishing rapport with your prospect (whether online or offline) is the easy part.

But getting someone to register your business as a viable solution?

That’s no easy task, particularly in crowded online space.

Content is uploaded at an astronomical pace and hoping someone sees your post in a Facebook group or online forum is a shot in the dark.

Here’s what you’re up against:

content upload rate

3.3 million posts per day and this was in 2016!

So, you have little choice but to stand up and make yourself heard.

Schmoozing Your Lead

Wouldn’t it be great if you could create a Facebook custom audience comprised of just your targets?

“Hey James Smith! This awesome (your service here) will totally change your life!”

No one could miss that ad.

Unfortunately, Facebook isn’t going to let you hyper-target to that degree. There’s a minimum number of users/contacts required to create a Facebook custom audience.

But it’s not clear exactly what size that audience has to be. Some sources say that you need to have a minimum of 100 unique users in a custom audience.

A post on Facebook’s help page from 2016 said the minimum custom audience is 20:

fb custom audience size

Instead of aiming to talk directly to just your primary lead, run targeted ad campaigns to a custom audience made up of people that have some level of influence over your prospect.

For example, this can be family, friends, or colleagues that interact with your lead at work.

Targeting people from this core group should help you overcome Facebook’s minimum requirements for creating a custom audience.

Keep in mind that you can’t run targeted ads to employees at just one company unless it has a sizeable headcount.

If you don’t know who has influence over your lead, here’s how you find out:

Create A List Of People That Influence Your Lead

Head over to Linkedin and search for the company your lead works at.

Gather the names and email addresses of everyone at that company into a spreadsheet.

If that sounds like a lot of work (and it can be!), use scraper tools like SellHack, Outreach.io, or LeadFuze to automate this process.

If your lead works at a small-to-medium business, there probably won’t be enough coworkers to populate your custom audience with.

In this case, start looking at other companies that your lead interacts with.

For example, let’s say Joe at XYZ Corp is your main target.

Look back at step 1 (where you began ‘stalking’ Joe) to see if he speaks at any conferences, contributes to charities, or is an industry mentor.

Let’s say he’s speaking at a conference in the near future.

Employees from companies in attendance are people who might have influence over Joe.

Why not run your targeted ads to them?

To do this, you’ll need to collect contact information of every employee of the company that will be in attendance at the conference.

If you are unable to locate an attendee list of the upcoming conference, track down the attendees of previous conferences (most are annual events).

Doing this should net you enough contacts to create at least one if not several custom audience groups of people that know (and influence) Joe.

Setting Up Your Custom Audience And Ad Copy

With enough people to run ads to, head over to Facebook’s ads platform.

When it comes to selecting an audience group for your ad, select custom audiences and upload the contact information you have on hand.

creating fb custom audience

If you have multiple unique custom groups, make sure you upload each list separately.

Next up, you’ll need to write up the ad copy.

Note: Your ad copy will be determined by the type of relationship people in your audience group have with your lead.

For example, if your audience group consists of people that work closely with Joe, you can be very specific in your copy.

You might make references such as “does <lead’s company name’s> CMO know this one tactic?” or “are you ready for XYZ conference?”

This will make sense to everyone that works with Joe, but not to those who know him from a different setting.

For custom audiences comprised of different types of people, keep your ad copy generic.

For example, if your custom audience contains employees from Joe’s company AND the charity he contributes to, not everyone is going to get your reference about that upcoming conference.

If your ad copy for this group is too specific, your ad relevance score is also going to take a hit.

People are going to mark your ads irrelevant by clicking on Facebook’s option “why am I seeing this ad?” or “don’t show me ads like this.”

You want your ad to make sense to everyone in your custom audience.

Get Some Insight

Before you set your ad to run live, run it through Facebook Insights.

Go to Facebook Insights and enter the name of the company where your lead works. Facebook will show you the names of people that are roughly associated with that company.

You’ll see names here that you didn’t come across while using LinkedIn to build your custom audience.

This gives you even more people to choose from when creating a custom audience.

But be careful when using this strategy, especially when you’re targeting leads at super-conglomerates like Coca-Cola or if your lead works at a company that has a very active social presence.

Facebook Insights includes people that follow or like a company (passive interest).

Those who like or follow a smaller, less socially active company (fewer than 1,000 likes or follows) are likely to be associated with the company in some way. But using Facebook Insights to target companies that actively promote building a large Facebook following dilutes the audience of your true influencers.

Creating Your Ad

So far, I’ve mentioned how people in your audience group can impact your ad copy.

There’s one other important thing to note: never reference your lead by name.

Instead, refer to their position or unique pain point so it’s obvious who you’re referring to without having to call them out.

Let’s go with our example about people who work with Joe again.

Your ads to these people should read like “help your sales manager make the most of the leads he’s going to get at XYZ conference” or “does your CMO know there’s a better way to do XYZ?”

This is to get Joe’s (your target) attention.

Basically, you want to expose your brand to as many people that interact with Joe. This increases the likelihood that your brand is brought up in conversation.

You want Joe to feel that he’s seeing your brand and solution(s) at every turn.

Ditch Text Ads For Video

While there’s nothing wrong with text ads, consider creating video ads.

Video content has been surging in recent years and it’s no secret that Facebook is actively promoting video content in the news feed because of higher engagement levels.

The strategy behind creating a video ad is no different than a text ad.

You still can’t call out your lead directly.

You’ll have to make indirect references like “want to earn points with your boss?”

Also, don’t shy away from telling people what to do.

For example, say something like “go to his office and tell him about this right now” or “do you know a sales manager that always gets stressed out before a convention? Do him a solid and tell him about this!”

How Long To Run Your Ad

You don’t want to run a targeted ad for too long (no more than 4-5 days).

The goal with the first round of targeted ads is to cast a wide net to get maximum exposure.

This will burn through your budget quickly because the number of impressions will be high but it’s worth the one-time investment.

We’re going to retarget the people who interact with your initial ad. Those people will be placed in a retargeting audience and everyone else will be disregarded.

Don’t worry about ditching people who don’t watch (or read) your first ad. They probably didn’t find it relevant so there’s no point wasting more money on showing them your next round of ads.

Doing this helps you create a custom group of engaged leads.

If your audience group becomes too small after cutting out the noise, you’ll probably have to make your retargeting ad more generic.

The strategy behind your next round of ads (retargeting) is the same as your first.

You want people to go up to Joe and talk about you.

When you’re certain Joe knows who you are, it’s time to switch mediums and jump over to email where the conversion can happen in more detail.

Email gives you the option of sending targeted personal messages (video messages are great too!) and even move the conversation over to a phone.

You’ll have more success converting leads in this way.

Why?

They’re more likely to be ready to engage in conversation with you because you’re familiar now: they’ve already seen you everywhere.

Step # 3 – Target Industry Events

If you’re in a rush to get your lead’s attention, run social campaigns for industry events in your niche.

We’ve used this tactic ourselves to great effect and you can too.

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

First, compile a list of conventions, expos, or conferences that you know your targets attend or speak at. Remember that other attendees at these events are potential lead candidates.

Why?

Industry events are very niche-specific and there will be crossover between attendees.

From your list of target conferences, start filtering out events you feel will attract a large enough pool of potential leads (use your judgment here).

Once you’ve narrowed down an event to focus on, this is what you need to do:

How To Find Leads To Target At Your Conference

Check Facebook to see if the conference has its own standalone page.

If it does, add followers of that page into your custom audience. If you can’t find a dedicated page, contact the event organizer to get a list of attendees who have purchased tickets or confirmed their intent to attend.

Anyone that sets foot inside the event is a target.

We’re going to run 3 different ads in this campaign:

  1. Pre-conference
  2. During conference
  3. Post-conference

Want to see exactly how we did this to generate a new pool of leads from a popular annual cannabis conference? Click here.

The Pre-Conference Phase

In the days leading up to the conference, run ads to remind leads to be ready for the big day.

For example, your ad in this stage may say something like “are you ready for?” or “make the most out of your limited time at XYZ conference.”

Here’s an example from a campaign we ran just prior to a convention happening in Las Vegas:

pre-conference facebook ad

If you’re going to attend the conference in-person, give leads incentives to visit your booth.

These could include:

During The Conference

During the day(s) your conference is set to take place, ads should focus on pain points that conference goers can relate to.

Hint: There’s one universal pain point everyone faces at a conference across industries: a lack of time to meet everyone and digest the overabundance of information. Making this the focal point of your ad copy is a safe bet.

For example, your ad copy may read “don’t want to hoof it to every lighting vendor at XYZ conference? Here’s a comparison guide so you don’t have to!”

Here’s an example of an ad we ran during a recent conference in Las Vegas:

during conference facebook ad

Make sure your guide actually delivers on what you’re promising.

Also, subtly highlight why you are superior and don’t forget to include a link to your guide!

If you don’t have a comparison guide handy, you can compile a best-of resource.

In this case, you can say something like “tired of schmoozing? here’s all you need to know about the best XYZ on the market, no sales people involved!”

Again, don’t forget to include the link right in your ad (this is critical!).

If you’re in attendance, providing incentives to encourage viewers to ‘like’ your ads is also effective.

When running these ads, make sure to limit their reach geographically.

These ads should only be visible to people in your custom audience who are located within a 2-mile radius of the physical conference location.

And run them only when the conference is actually taking place (a one hour buffer time before and after the conference is acceptable but no longer).

Post-Conference

After the conference ends, you’ll want to show your ads only to a select group of people.

Who are these people?

You guessed it – people who interacted with your ad during the conference.

For example, this may be a person who clicked-through to your lead magnet or watched your video ad.

This is no different than the retargeting campaign you saw before.

This follow-up is intended to motivate people to put your product or service in front of a decision maker at their place of work, especially if they weren’t present at the conference.

Essentially, you’re asking someone to pitch you offline (after you’ve pitched to them online).

So why not make their life easy and do it for them?

For example, you can run a post-conference ad in which you offer a slideshow laying out the reasons why your product is superior to competitors and hence worth the investment.

Dig deep and pull out data that shows how you’ll save them time, money, and/or resources.

This strategy is intended to be the “next best thing” to having a salesperson in the room with a lead post-conference, expounding on the benefits of your product or service.

We’re just replacing that salesperson with a retargeting ad campaign instead.

Start a Conversation

Lead generation on social media demands that you not to come on too strong.

There’s nothing people hate more than being bombarded with obvious sales pitches while trying to connect with family or friends.

What they don’t mind is a business that wants to genuinely help someone solve their problem

Use this approach as your ‘in’ to build rapport with people you want to win over as leads.

Once you have their trust, it’s just a matter of getting in front of them – directly or through the people who influence them – at every opportunity.

You’ll have a foothold to a face-to-face in no time.

 

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About The Author: Ryan Eldridge is Chief Strategist at Squirrel Digital Marketing, a data-driven growth marketing company and digital marketing agency. He is also CEO and Co-Founder of Nerds on Call, a computer repair company servicing clients throughout California and Oregon. He appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and Fox 2 in Oakland, offering viewers insight into tech news and marketing. See Ryan in action at ryaneldridge.tv