With 71% of online adults using Facebook and 46% of online adults using Twitter there's not much argument taking place against the notion that businesses, both B2B and B2C, need to be active on social media to reach new prospects and engage with their customers.
As with most new forms of media, there are some people and some companies that totally get it and are effectively cultivating and engaging their community while others give it minimal effort and see minimal results.
If your goal is to become a successful B2B marketer and generate leads from your social media activity, it’s important to grasp why it’s smarter to focus on depth than on reach.
Mistake 1: focusing on vanity metrics
It’s nice to have a large number of followers and likes on the content you publish, to see your social media posts shared widely, but those vanity metrics matter less than you might think if your social media goal is lead generation. There are benefits to having a large following, but it’s the micro conversations, the one to one dialogues, that produce leads.
We all want our posts to “go viral.” But in reality, very few do. For most inbound marketers, a few dozen likes or retweets on a post is considered a success. But when they see the limited impact these "likes" have, they lose interest. They essentially give up on that posting and start to think about how to make their next social media post bigger.
They’re missing the real opportunity that’s right under their nose. While obsessively focused on reach, they don’t slow down to look at the engagement they’re creating at the micro level, to see exactly who is sharing what and how they can further engage these people.
When someone shares your LinkedIn post or retweets the comment you sent a few minutes ago, they’re expressing interest, support, agreement, or favorability about you or your company. It’s a ripe moment to engage that person. It’s not an occasion to lay a sales pitch on them, but it's an opportunity to reply with a simple “thanks” or “glad you liked it.”
Let them know you’re paying as much attention to them as they are to you. A certain percentage will respond to you—and who knows where that conversation might lead. We can’t guarantee you that each such engagement will bear fruit, but we can guarantee that you’ll see no results at all if you don’t engage first.
Mistake 2: Not Utilizing paid Advertising
We hate to burst your bubble, but you’ll never hit your reach goals without paid ads. And even if you did, you won’t be converting many leads unless you get micro, unless you go deep, unless you engage each person. Remember, this is social media, not ad media. Your goal here is not to blast the same message to thousands, but to start a unique dialogue with each interested individual.
If you want to evolve your social media strategy from reach to engagement, there are a few easy things you can do.
First, spend more time listening (and replying) and less time talking at people on social media. Think about social media as a dinner party; it’s not very nice to always be talking. You have to shut up once in a while and listen to what other guests are saying and engage in a real conversation.
Second, pay attention to your notifications on each of your social media accounts. If you get a like or a share on your social media accounts, make sure to acknowledge that to the individual (if possible).
Lastly, don’t think about every contact with every person as having to generate an ROI or a lead. Be a real person and have real conversations on your social media platforms. Real conversations and real relationships, not loads of likes, are what produces leads and revenue.
That person who just shared your post? He or she may be your next customer—but only if you treat them like a real person.
Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in 2015 and has since been updated.