Lead generation and acquisition is one of the four main types of marketing campaigns and yes, social media can be used in it. Actually, it can be used quite effectively so long as you have all of your other ducks in a row first. Which if you need help with there are resources that can help you with that. There will be more on that in a bit. First let’s talk about what this very important type of campaign is.

A Lead generation and acquisition is any campaigns used to gather information (like email addresses, profiles, mailing addresses, etc) with the goal of getting a list of people who are likely to buy from you. This type of campaign is usually measured by ROI to determine if what you’re doing is working, because if you’re spending more money than you’re bringing in, then you have a problem. This is also going to be covered a few paragraphs down the page. 

Before you start using Social Media for Lead Generation and Acquisition
If you already have some lead generation strategies and tactics in use then go over them with a fine tooth comb and make sure they are easy to go through and don’t require too many hurdles. Assess what you want people to sign up for, and what ways they can get there. If you’re going to be sending people directly to your site make sure you have some targeted landing pages setup for your various types of leads.

Make sure you have your marketing funnels in place and that you are familiar with where people go at each step so you can send people there directly. You don’t want to send someone to step 1 if they are already at step 3. This will help keep your fall out numbers as low as possible.

If needed diagram out your current processes and look at the ways you can get people to the various parts. This is how you create your plan for inserting them and gathering the leads. Spending lots of time here and effort here can keep you from wasting a lot of your time and your potential customers time later on.

Setting up Social Media for Lead Generation and Acquisition
If your company is already involved in social media then you should have your listening strategies and tactics in place so you know where your customers are and what they talk about. If not, now would be a good time to start. This will help you setup your social media lead generation.

Excluding the millions of forums, niche networks, and sites that your customers could be hanging out on there are 2 “de facto” sites that are very quickly emerging as the two you “need” to be a part of and one platform you should have. You see them on tv commercials, in ads, and part of more and more campaigns. They are Twitter an Facebook. These two have risen above and so I’m going to talk about them briefly.*

Twitter – This is where you need to be aware of what you’re monitoring and how it relates to your other lead generation tactics. If you’re looking for people to sign up for your newsletter, fill out a contact form on your site, etc. you need to be a part of their conversation when they have a problem and position yourself as part of the solution.

If you have more than one way you currently collect leads then evaluate what would work best for them and help direct them there first mentally with your conversation, then physically by sending them a link to where they can get more info, etc. This right here is why it’s so important to have your site and methods in order first, because once they leave Twitter it’s up to your site to make the final conversion.

Facebook– Setup your fan page and then populate it using your existing friends, family, and clients. If they are on Facebook you want them to be your fan. Here you can setup custom fbml tabs where you can have someone with web design skills create a beautiful info page that will lead people to your site where you can collect their info, or embed a form to do it right there on the page. A good example of good looking fbml tabs is The Gap (Born To Fit, Jeans, and Born to Share tabs).

There is also a great new Facebook app by JD Supra Docs called Email Signupthat collects people’s email addresses for your newsletter. By bringing people to your Facebook page and having good content and activity to make them excited, you can use this app to get them to subscribe. You can also use contests using apps like wildfire to help you gain leads, just make sure what you’re giving away is related to your company / niche so you can find qualified leads.

Blog – Dynamic content is a good way to keep bringing people to your site. Having relevant, good quality content is key to building your posts to be used in your lead generation. A simple strategy is to address the problem that your company solves, give some basic advice and an action step that people can use right away.

Offer to help if they need it, build links to your sales pages in the post and end with a call to action if they need your services. The better the info, the more you give, the more we will trust you. Also, be sure to have a sign up for more info, subscribe to your newsletter, etc. on the blog in a prominent place and draw attention to it.

Another tactic is to create something of value (ebook, white paper, etc.) that you can give away on the site in exchange for them signing up for your newsletter. This will help add value, and get people motivated to sign up for another good method of lead generation or even just help build trust, which is on it’s own a great thing to build because we like doing business with people we trust.

Managing Social Media for Lead Generation and Acquisition
The best way to manage any social media is to find ways to integrate the activities into your daily activities. Once you get acclimated to the tools and their use then you can look at how you can bracket out time or how to use the tools more effectively. You don’t need to be in it all the time, just figure out what works for you.

Alternatively you can get savvy people to help you run it. It’s best place to find people who are passionate about your brand, best resource for this is often within your own company. Finding the ones who have the basic skills to communicate effectively and build quality, related content as well. If you’re lacking the savvy aspect, but have passion in droves then you’d want to look at calling in a good consultant or trainer to get your team up to speed.

Monitoring and ROI Social Media for Lead Generation and Acquisition
Figuring out how much time you spend on these efforts and the conversion rates is how you will be able to figure out if these tools are productive for your lead generation. On your site you should have some kind of tracking setup like Google Analytics or Omniture. Setup a campaign and watch the traffic coming from Twitter, Facebook, etc. Watch the conversion rates to know how many people signed up or gave you their contact info.

Once you know what that number / rate is you can then determine how useful the tools you’re using are for lead generation so long as you know what each lead is worth to you. Based on your other efforts you should already know that if each customer who signs up for your newsletter, etc is worth a certain amount. For this example lets say you know that based on your previous efforts each lead is worth $10 because that’s the average revenue generated from your newsletters.

ROI = money generated – investment / investment

So for this example lets say that 60 new leads were generated, each lead is worth $10, you spent 15 hours getting them and your time is worth $30/hr.

ROI = ($10 * 60) – (15 * $30) / (15 * $30)
ROI = $600 – $450 / $450
ROI = $150 / $450
ROI = 33%

 So in this example it’s been mildly successful.

 Two things to keep in mind. 

1. Don’t forget to add any money you might have saved when comparing it to anyof your previous or current methods. If you spend less time but get equal or even just slightly less results than other methods you’ll be saving money on man hours as well.

 2. As you get more and more used to the tools, the processes, and get better at using them the amount of time you spend using them for that specific purpose might go down just because you’re using them more effectively. Or, your time may stay the same, but your conversion rate might be better because you’re using them more efficiently. That’s why it’s important to monitor, to see what’s working, what’s not, and where you can improve.

 Do you have any tips or stories to share about using social media in a lead generation / Acquisition campaign? If you do, please share it and any other thoughts you have on this below.

 Thanks for reading,
Josh “Shua” Peters

*The best social media plan is always tool agnostic, but I needed tools to give examples.
Image by Jessica Flavin