When you look at mid-market IT companies, most companies fall into one of two camps with their approach to social media. They either:
- Update their Twitter feed or LinkedIn company page once every 18-24 months (because these companies are living in the past and unwilling to acknowledge the present and future)
- Post glorified news releases and spammy, self-serving sales promotions on theirfeeds—and wonder why nobody cares
However, neither approach achieves what most mid-market IT companies want from their social media investment: more highly-qualified leads and more revenue growth. Let’s look at six different ways for you to use social media to achieve your lead generation and new client sales goals.
1. Build Strategy
If you are serious about realizing meaningful goals—not just futzing around on social media for the sake of saying “Hey, clap for us, we’re on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.,”—strategy must come before tactics.
- How often should you post?
- What kinds of content should you share?
- On which social media channels should you concentrate your efforts?
- Are there certain groups or hashtags within a particular social media channel that matter most?
The answer to all of these questions: It depends. On what does it depend? Your buyer personas, their buyer’s journey, and the experience that they desire most from an IT company like yours.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of one of your ideal buyers that is developed based on research and educated speculation.
If you skip buyer persona development -- and you do not have a strategy for how you will attract the right strangers, convert visitors into leads, close leads into new clients, and delight clients into promoters, you will likely end up extremely frustrated. Moreover, you will end up with little or no progress towards your lead generation and revenue generation goals.
Everything with social media needs to start with a well thought-out, buyer persona-centric, full funnel strategy.
2. Segment and Configure
Do you have any friends who are in sales? Any friends that are accountants? What would happen if you were producing a great local conference for sales professionals and an accountant accidentally registered and wandered in? Conversely, what kind of experience do you think a sales manager would have at an accounting conference?
In a world where people have so many choices of how and when they consume information, no one puts up with even semi-relevant information anymore, let alone the irrelevant. Amazon, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix, Sirius XM radio, and TiVo are all solving the same itch: on-demand relevancy.
Along the same lines, you cannot expect a one-size-fits-none approach to work on social media. If your company sells to both sales directors and accounting managers, separate your social media. For example, a separate Twitter profile for each can do wonders to increase perceived relevancy, engagement rates, clicks, and ultimately conversions.
You might also consider starting and growing two separate LinkedIn Groups. Alternatively, consider separating Facebook groups and segmenting YouTube on your social media by publishing by separate playlists.
These small steps can do wonders to get the right content in front of the right people in the right context.
3. Monitor and Interact
Social media is meant to be an interactive medium. If you just auto-announce new blog posts to Twitter or LinkedIn, you are missing out on a great opportunity to find out what your buyer personas care most about and engage in the conversations that are most meaningful to them.
When developing your buyer personas, find out where your ideal clients are hanging out online and what they are discussing. Use this information to monitor the right hashtags and keywords, and frequent the right groups and communities.
When you do interact, aim to help first. If it is relevant to reply with one of your related blog posts, eBooks, or Webinar recordings, make that part of the response. However, make sure it is not **the** response, or you will run a high risk of being labeled a spammer.
4. Publish Like a Publisher
Have you ever watched how fast your Twitter feed scrolls by? Keeping this in mind, what’s the likelihood that even your most ideal potential client happens to be monitoring their Twitter feed at the exact moment you announce a new blog post, eBook, or webinar? Pretty low right?
Don’t just announce a new resource once. Repeat these announcements and spread them out over time. Beyond relevance, before you can credibly repeat these new content announcements, you need at least 10-20 different pieces of content so your followers, connections, or members do not feel like you keep announcing the same stuff.
When it doubt, think more like a publisher. It is not enough to simply create content. You also must promote content to get the right eyes in front of that content. Take CNN Headline News for example. Every 30 minutes, they largely repeat the same content they did in the previous half hour. Sure, when something more relevant or “breaking” in nature appears, something will roll off, but repetition is the name of the game.
What about syndicated TV? Think you have watched your favorite episode of Friends or Seinfeld just once? Not a chance. Those sitcoms have been in syndication for years. And what about streaming video services like Hulu and Netflix? Their entire publishing model is based on repetition and scratching peoples’ itch for selective consumption.
One pro tip: publishers use editorial calendars to plan out upcoming content to ensure they are not ‘just winging it.’
5. Be the Boss of Your Social Inbox
If you use a platform that has a consolidated social media monitoring dashboard (similar to what HubSpot Social Inbox does for Twitter), make sure you stay on top of all of your interactions with your stakeholders. Social courtesies include:
- Thanking someone when they retweet one of your posts; saying thank you is not just good business, it typically leads to more loyal followers who will retweet your content again at a later date
- If someone follows you/your company, connects with you, or likes your page, thank them and consider cross-pollinating by encouraging fans of one of your social media channels to become followers on another one of your channels.
- When someone Tweets at you/makes an @ mention, be sure to respond (otherwise it is the equivalent of someone calling your support department and no one answering the phone).
6. Close the Loop on Lead Generation and Revenue
While it is super-important to build your strategy around your buyer personas, at the end of the day most mid-market IT companies want their social media to materialize into new clients and new revenue growth. However, very, very few companies track what social media means to their bottom lines.
The key piece of the puzzle: closed-loop reporting. Closed-loop reporting is what ties sales outcomes—as tracked in your CRM system—to marketing activities—as tracked in your marketing automation platform.
Closed-loop reporting is what allows you to know what’s working -- so you can double, triple, and quadruple down on what is working best. Along the same lines, closed-loop reporting allows you to know which marketing activities are not working, so you can cut bait and reallocate resources to more profitable endeavors.
At the most basic level, there needs to be real-time—or near-real-time—integration between your marketing automation platform and your CRM system.
The Bottom Line
A lot of mid-market IT companies have a very difficult time with differentiation and growth. In this post, you have learned about six core areas to consider when revenue growth is a priority.
How is your company using social media to drive more leads and revenue? Share your take in the Comments box below.
And if you need further advice on what to do next to generate more leads and revenue, watch "IT Sales Has Changed. Is Your Team Living in the Past?" (Webinar Recording)
Topics:- Managed Service Provider MSP