Interview: Professor Mike McGuirk on How Brandwatch For Students is Used in His Classroom
By Olivia SwainSep 6
Published May 25th 2018
Your social media platforms can be a gold mine for leads. Brandwatch uses our presence on sites like LinkedIn and Twitter to generate leads, so we’re going to preach what we practice. If you get it right, social media lead generation is a viable and valuable strategy. Don’t let anyone else tell you different.
We’ve put together some general advice, but if you want platform-specific tips you can jump ahead:
You always need a plan of action. So to get started, consider the following:
These are good place to start building out your plan. Going in blind will lead to a very ineffective approach. You’ll also want to look at building your audience. Our social media marketing guide will get you going on that front.
We can use Brandwatch as an example. We offer a social listening platform and to generate interest around that we need to show off what it can do and reach the right people. We need people in organisations who can get the ball rolling, people in the position to make decisions.
LinkedIn is obviously a prime place for this. It’s full of people looking for ways to improve their business, they’re already receptive to a blog post about improving ROI or dealing wth crises. Unsurprisingly, our social posts and content do well there as our product and target customer fit.
Instagram on the other hand does not generate leads for us. While it’s great for showing off what we’re up to, people scroll through their Instagram to see some great photos. They’re not exactly primed to start considering whether their company needs a social listening solution.
On the other hand, if you sell something that looks great visually, Instagram can be great. Fashion and beauty brands, for example, will see much better lead gen results on Instagram than we ever will.
This is one area of social media lead generation that’s overlooked. You don’t have to rely on sending out posts yourselves to get people interested, you can get proactive and go out and find them. Just be careful how you do it.
Ultimately the approach is the same. Choose a bunch of keywords to track and then wait for people to post them. Then you can decide whether they’re a viable lead and take the appropriate action. For us, we track terms like “social listening software”, which can be great when someone is asking for suggestions.
Be wary though. Some companies take this a bit far and bombard the poster with content and tweets that are overwhelming and, frankly, spammy. Have a think about how best to communicate. Will replying to the tweet suffice and what language should you use? Is your brand account a goo way to get in touch or should a salesperson use their account?
In other words, don’t rush in. Bear in mind these people are posting to their followers, not to whoever may be tracking a certain keyword. Aggressively appearing out of the ether is unlikely to be received well.
So when you come to writing tweets and posts to drum up interest, there’s the option to let them go out organically, or to stick some money behind them.
Organic can work just fine on its own, although it definitely does better on Twitter and LinkedIn than Facebook. Going organic also doesn’t cost you anything either, but you’ll miss out on some benefits including:
For lead generation, the above are clearly very important. You will see far better results on your posts wth money behind them. On LinkedIn you’ll be to target people with specific jobs. On Facebook you can hit carefully chosen locations. On Twitter you can go after people who have tweeted certain words or follow accounts.
On the downside is the spend. It will cost you money and you’ll need to dedicate a decent amount of time to it to get it right. Then you’ll probably want custom assets made up, then there will be results analysis, and refinement.
If you’ve got the time and the money, then go for it. But if you don’t don’t despair. Organic isn’t a dead end and you can still do very well with it.
Next we’ll go through some tips and advice for each individual platform. They all work whether you go organic or paid.
In the next section we’re going to run through some tips for each platform that will help you get leads. Some refer to specific lead generation tactics, while others, such as how to gain new followers, simply build a base for doing so.
That’s because there are a number of ways to get leads through social, including:
While that is not exhaustive, the more robust and high quality your social media is, the easier it will be to get leads (not to mention the increased reach possible for paid ads). The following will put you in a good position for all of the above.
Twitter has amassed 330m active users with $70m spent on ads on the platform a year. With people from all walks of life and all corners of the earth using Twitter, there’s nearly an audience for everyone. Also, with the right tweets, you’ve go the potential for huge organic reach if you can rack up the retweets.
With a low number of followers it can feel a lot like shouting into the void. You’ve got to get those numbers up, but you also want people you can actually sell to to follow you.
So, make sure you’re advertising your Twitter on your site and other communications. Then, keep on topic. You don’t have to be too strict, but talk about what’s actually relevant to your target audience. Also, engage with other people in your industry to reach their networks.
Also, contribute something new. Just retweeting other people’s tweets or posting external content won’t make people want to follow you. Bring your own content and voice to the table. Once your audience is there, you can start picking up leads.
We mentioned engaging with other people in your industry, which also falls under this step. A great way to get your account in front of new people is to have the bigger players mention or retweet you. Talking to them is a good first step.
But you can also infuse this with your content approach. Interviews and features can be great ego bait to encourage more influential accounts to share your content. In turn that should boost your following.
Another great idea is to run Twitter chats, which are essentially Q&As run through the site. Invite some influencers to answer questions and they’ll promote the whole thing to their followers. Again, more relevant eyes on your account.
Social media can be a great place to get your brand voice across. But your brand voice might not be a good fit for Twitter. Dry business language isn’t exactly a big draw. Generally people are using Twitter to be entertained or informed. If you’re not achieving either, you will struggle.
It’s not right for everyone, but a slightly looser tone of voice can work well on Twitter. A few emojis here, a meme or two there. The Oxford Circus Waterstones Twitter account did a great job of surrealist comedy to promote the store and get people through the doors.
As a warning, this can go really wrong if you can’t get it right. The further you go the more difficult it’ll be. Having a slightly more relaxed approach is a good place to start rather, although a well-placed meme can do wonders.
It’s all business on LinkedIn. Well, at least it is when you get past all the broetry. It’s a great platform for leads as people are already open to business talk and many use it to find out new tools, products, and approaches. Here you can be a bit more direct.
One of the best aspects of LinkedIn for lead generation is that you can target your posts even if they aren’t paid. By clicking on ‘Post Options’ underneath the post creator, you can send the post to people based on their location, job, industry, and other criteria.
This means you can you can highly customise your posts without annoying the people they’re not aimed at. Want to write something aimed at CEOs in the pharmaceutical industry based in Bradford? Then go for it. All the pharma CEOs in Newcastle won’t see a thing and get bothered by content that’s of no use to them.
LinkedIn’s algorithm loves conversations and will share your post more widely when lots of people comment. And encouraging this is as simple as asking a question. LinkedIn users love offering up their opinions.
This can be as easy asking for their top tips around a certain subject, or you could ask their opinion on something controversial. The more arguing in the comments the better (as long as it all stays civil). As the post’s reach increases you’ll get in front of new people who may just need your services.
Just be wary about encouraging discussion around controversial topics. A heated debate about job losses through automation is great. 300 comments split along lines around the Syrian Civil war, not so much. Keep it to relevant topics to your brand, and you’ll be good to go. And don’t be afraid to delete posts if things go south.
People like advice and tips on LinkedIn. A lot of people are there to learn. While you can still do well with fun stuff on the platform, offering up actionable insights will get you good engagement and a bigger following.
This is also good to keep in mind when sharing content. Guides that help people improve their businesses will perform well, so offer something off valuable. Avoid fluff and get to the point.
Facebook used to be a huge driver of referral traffic, but now organic reach has been curtailed for brands it’s falling behind. That’s why lots of people solely rely on paids ads for this platform, but there’s still some ways to get your message out for free.
Ever since Facebook updated their algorithm, brands have struggled with organic reach. The platform is now geared towards conversations and interactions. To get your page and content in front of people, you need to do the same.
Try to start discussions with your content and posts. Ask for input and ask questions. Anything to get people talking in the comments. You also want people to share your posts in their own timelines, which will dramatically increase your reach. Interesting content that tells a good story works best for this.
Just bare in mind that Facebook doesn’t like certain attempts to get shares and engagement. Check out this blog post that explains what to avoid.
Facebook has a lot of options for setting up your page to encourage leads. First of all, make sure all of your contact information is up-to-date. Next you can add a CTA for get people to email or call you. Anything that makes it easier for people to get in touch is good.
Getting your page set up with nice visuals and organised photo albums (for example, by product category) are great too. Think about your page as its own website. You can sell through it, so don’t mistreat it.
It seems like Facebook wants more people to create groups. Group posts are more likely to show up in your feed compared to brand posts from pages. This is likely because joining a group shows Facebook you want to be involved in the discussions there.
If you already have a page, it’s really easy to create a group from it. Just click on the three dots next the ‘Share’ button at the top of your page and click ‘Create group’.
It’s a good idea to pick a topic that’s broader than just your business content. Think about what your target audience like to discuss and talk about. Focus it around that, and then you can pull people in. From there it’s an easy matter of a few gentle nudges towards your product or services. For a good example, check out Ahrefs’ group.
Reddit is getting an incrasing amount of attention from marketers. It has a lot of users from all over the world, while people can create their own super niche communities. It’s great for finding opportunities and for better understanding your audience. Our Reddit explainer is a good place for extra info.
Reddit is a tough nut to crack. Users and mods are hyper vigilant for marketers using the platform solely for self-promotion without contributing to the community.
To get the most out of the platform, you need to set up a real account and use it naturally. Get involved in a number of subreddits and build up a decent profile. This shows you’re willing to put the time in.
This will be necessary for sharing your own content. But beware, it’s not that simple. What you post still needs to be useful, interesting and relevant. Dumping every blog post you write all over the site will get your banned quickly. Be thoughtful and helpful. Once you get using Reddit properly, it will become much easier to find real opportunities.
As you use the site properly, you can start to communicate with mods of subreddits. Depending on the topic, plenty can be open to working with brands in the right situation.
For example, many run Ask Me Anythings, where a person will be interviewed by the subreddit. If you run a restaurant, you could be a great choice in one of the food subreddits. Or if you run an agency, for one of the marketing subreddits.
You’ll increase your chances of this by talking to mods regularly. It’s always a good idea to check your content is a good fit for a subreddit, while they can also offer up advice on what content might be good to produce and post. Mods want the best for their subreddit, so they’ll often be willing to help.
People ask for advice and help a lot on Reddit. This can be a great time to let them know about your great content or product. You can find these conversations by simply using the search bar, but you can also get more advanced and track more specifically (and easily) with Brandwatch Analytics too.
Be wary though. Just showing up all over and only replying to say “buy my stuff’, will get you labelled as a spammer quickly. Like we’ve already said, use Reddit naturally first before doing this. Also make a note of which subreddits people ask relevant questions in so you can start engaging with them.
Instagram is obviously a huge platform with a lot of opportunity. The site currently sees 800m monthly active users. But it can also be tough to generate leads on. You can’t include links in posts, for example, meaning it’s that little bit harder to use compared to other sites like Facebook and Twitter.
First up is looking at what you’re selling and how that can translate to Instagram posts. For some it’s pretty straight forward. If you run a bar get a load of pictures of people having a great time in your up. If you sell clothes, get nice pictures of your clothes up. Easy.
On the other hand, if you’re like us and sell a business service, it’s a bit more difficult. It’s still possible, but might not be as successful. In our case, we produce content made with data from our platform, but ultimately people aren’t really on Instagram for that kind of thing.
Keep this in mind. In some cases it might just be worth using the platform for pushing your brand identity rather than products and services.
Including hashtags in your post is a great way to increase the reach of your post and get in front of interested parties. For example, our Instagram post with the biggest reach is one that included the #WhoBitBeyonce hashtag.
As people actively search hashtags, you’ve got people already receptive to sales. Be sure to include them when applicable. Don’t pointlessly add 50 hashtags, but be targeted and concise. It’s also worth looking through a hashtag’s feed beforehand so you can get some inspiration.
And, to keep your posts neat, here’s how to hide hashtags on your posts.
As previously mentioned, with no links in the posts themselves, its difficult to get people onto your website. So how do you do it?
For a start, make sure you have website or contact buttons set up on your profile page (you can do this in the app’s settings). This gives people easy one-click access to or your site.
Next is down to the content. Get visual to start (repurposing old content can be a good idea), and then tease your audience. Give them a reason to seek out more information. Plus, always be sure to tell people there’s a link to your site on your profile page in the description.