As a business owner, you will most likely know that there are three critical things you must do to ensure the success of your business:

  • Generate more leads
  • Convert more leads into customers
  • Build a stronger brand to attract and retain customers

The great news is you can do all three (and a lot more) if you implement an effective social media strategy for your business.

Notice I use the word “effective”.

Most social media strategies for small businesses fail because they are not effective. There is no consistency, no plan, and ultimately no results.

The essence of a successful social media strategy (measurable by the results you get) can be achieved by completing just five steps:

  • Step 1: Plan (goal setting, building the foundation, etc)
  • Step 2: Create (choose the right social media channels to join)
  • Step 3: Grow (build a targeted audience of people interested in your business)
  • Step 4: Attract (generate leads)
  • Step 5: Convert (convert those leads into customers)

We will cover each of these steps in more detail as you go through this guide.

See also: How to get 10, 15, 30 or more predictable appointments each month with your ideal clients in a way that is automated, profitable and scalable!

Before you start: Why is a social media strategy important?

I know the word “strategy” is often overused, but it still holds great importance when utilizing social media. To be successful, you need to have an effective plan in place. How many times have you travelled in the past without any kind of research, forward planning or at least Google Maps at hand? Not many I would guess. You need to know where you’re going and you need the right tools to get you there.

So, how do you create an effective social media lead generation strategy for your small business?

Like any plan, you need to prepare well before you start. You need to know where you are going, what you need to do to get there and then, finally, take actions that turn your plan into a reality.

Step 1: Plan and set your goals

plan

Take a notepad (electronic notepad is also fine) and jot down the answers to these three fundamental questions:

What is your goal?

Before you start a social media campaign it’s important you know the end-goal of what you hope to achieve. Do you want to get more leads, build a stronger brand, provide more value, win more customers, or is it a combination of all these?

It’s important you also set some realistic expectations, so that the goal you create is achievable.

Who is your ideal customer?

To help you do this, think about your existing customers. What traits do they have in common?

Here are some things you could think about:

(Note: Not all may be applicable. Just choose the ones right for you and ignore the rest).

Age:
Gender:
Location:
Income:
Education:
Marital status:
Job Titles:
Industry:
Size of business:
Age of business:
Services business provides:

Now that you know a bit more about your ideal customer, you can begin to dig a bit deeper.

You need to get into the mind of your ideal customer and think about the type of books/magazines/publications they read, what websites do they visit, what events do they attend, what tools/apps do they use, what authority figures/influencers do they follow on social media and finally what’s specifically unique about your target audience?

The more information you can find about your target audience; the better you will be able to find, target and get your prospects to engage with you on social media.

What do you have of immense value that you can offer your ideal customers?

To really boost your social media campaign and achieve extraordinary results, you need have a mind-blowing offer.

The better your offer, the better results you will get.

A good offer on social media usually has two primary components:

  • It’s free
  • It’s valuable

One of the best ways to create an offer is by creating a high-quality and highly valuable piece of content for your target audience to consume for free.

This content could be in the form of a blog post, a webinar, an event, a video or any other form of content that someone can consume for free and receive value from.

You want to make your potential customers think “Wow” and want to share it with colleagues, friends and their network.

So if you haven’t yet started to create content for your business, now is the time to start!

Step 2: Create

Create social media channels for your business

Once you have established your goals, your target audience and your offer, you can then start to join and be active on the social media channels where your target audience are most likely to be found.

Here’s a quick run-down of the most popular social media channels currently running, to give you an idea of where you should focus your time, energy and attention.

Twitter

Twitter-Skyline-Screenshot


Twitter is an excellent channel to begin with as it’s an open social media network. What this means is that unlike Facebook or Instagram, most people on Twitter have public accounts.

This makes it very easy and cost-effective to find and connect with people in your target audience, and to start generating leads.

We will show you how a bit later in this guide.

Facebook and Instagram

Facebook-skyline-screenshot


Facebook is the world’s largest social media channel and has some of the best targeting options available. I put Facebook and Instagram together, because Instagram is owned by Facebook.

Instagram-skyline-screenshot

So, if you master how to advertise effectively on Facebook, you can also do the same for Instagram, as they use the same advertising platform.

It’s worth mentioning that to get the best results on Facebook and Instagram, you will need to invest in paid advertising. Organic reach just won’t get you as far.

LinkedIn

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LinkedIn has been dubbed as ‘Facebook for Businesses’, and was acquired by Microsoft in June 2016 for a staggering $26.2 billion, making it the largest acquisition in its history.

With Microsoft investing that much money into LinkedIn you can expect some radical changes (and hopefully improvements) in the way LinkedIn continues to work moving forward.

Right now, although people are not as active on LinkedIn as they are compared to other social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc), there are a LOT of people who do have LinkedIn accounts.

This makes LinkedIn an excellent research tool for those working in b2b markets.

You can pretty much find anyone using LinkedIn’s advanced search feature and search for people based on job titles, company size, industry, keywords in their profile, company name and much more.

Top tip: LinkedIn is more powerful when used from a personal profile rather than a company profile. A LinkedIn company profile is quite limited in what it can do in comparison to a personal account which can research people, message people and share content.

What about the other social media channels?

The above social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn) are four of the biggest social media networks that we recommend businesses use to get started.

Why?

They have a large amount of active users, and chances are high that you can find those in your target audience relatively easily on most, if not all, of the above.

Once you’ve created a strong presence and you’re feeling a bit more confident, you can then start exploring some of the other social media channels and expand your reach even more.

Top Tip: Remember, you don’t have to be on ALL social media channels straight away. This is a common mistake that some businesses make. They join as many social media channels as possible and then don’t have the money, time or resources to be active on any of them. It’s best to focus on a few and get really good at them FIRST, then add more as you go along.

YouTube

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If you create any video content then you MUST be using YouTube.

Why?

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world (after Google of course) and by having videos on YouTube you can get a lot of traffic to your videos and back to your website and landing pages.

Step 3 and 4: Grow and Attract

grow

Once you’ve set up and optimised your social media channels, you don’t want to simply leave them there collecting dust.

It’s time to build a targeted audience of people interested in you and your business.

I have put steps 3 and 4 together because as you grow your audience on social media, at the same time, you also want to be generating leads.

How can you do that?

It depends on what social media channels you have a presence on, as each works in a slightly different way.

In general though, you need to do two things:

  • Get your business in front of the right people
  • Have something valuable to share with people

Let’s dig a bit deeper and see how you can do that on some of the main social media channels.

Twitter

One of the best ways to build a targeted audience on Twitter, and to generate leads, is by following people in your target audience and starting conversations with them.

Because of the way Twitter works, it’s one of the easiest and most cost-effective social media channels to start growing a presence on.

In fact, you can generate leads and grow a targeted audience on Twitter without spending a penny on advertising.

All you need to do is invest your time, and you can invest as much or as little of that as you like.

Of course, the more time you do invest, the faster your audience will grow, and the more leads you can generate.

Facebook & Instagram

To get real results on Facebook and Instagram, you need to use paid advertising.

Facebook advertising (although I mention “Facebook”, the principles also apply to Instagram in the same way) can be a huge asset for your business. There are hundreds of things I could cover with Facebook advertising and the possibilities are almost endless.

So, here are the main principles to keep in mind:

First, you need to choose your Facebook Campaign Goal

What is it you want to do? Do you want to build brand awareness, generate leads, get more people to read your content, or something else?

The first step to a successful Facebook campaign is choosing your goal. Facebook’s algorithm automatically matches your Facebook ads to the people who are most likely to engage and respond to the goal you’ve set. Facebook is pretty good at this too.

I can’t stress this enough: make sure you choose the correct Facebook campaign goal! If you choose the wrong goal, then everything else you do for your Facebook campaign will not get the results you want.

Second, you need to choose your correct targeting audience

If you’ve completed step one correctly, then choosing the correct target audience should be much easier. Facebook allow you to filter through and find people based on all kinds of demographics and interests. Really try and drill down to whoever you think will be most likely to buy from your business.

Top tip: You can also retarget people who have visited certain pages on your website or are on your email list, creating ‘look-alike’ audiences. These can also be a very effective way of targeting people.

Third, create a Facebook advert that provides VALUE

It’s so important that you provide value to the people you are targeting on Facebook. People are tired of being bombarded by adverts that simply sell. Instead, create an advert that *gasp* doesn’t look like an advert! Believe it or not, some of the best Facebook ads do not look like advertising.

This is especially true if you are reaching out to a cold audience (where people have never heard about you before). Provide value to people first, build up trust and then sell when the time is right.

And finally, test and optimize

The final step to a successful Facebook campaign is to create multiple adverts. Try varying text, changing images and even promoting different offers. If what you do at first doesn’t work, try something else. When you find something that does work, then increase your budget and scale up for even better results!

Top tip: When using Facebook/Instagram ads for the first time, we recommend you start with a small budget at first (around £500 / $500 per month is a good place to start) and then increase and scale up accordingly as you start to get stronger results.

LinkedIn

One of the best things you can do to build a targeted audience on LinkedIn is to connect with everyone you meet in real-life and through your online dealings.

This means you should connect to your suppliers, strategic partners, clients, potential clients and anyone you meet in the business world.

Why is this important?

When you connect to someone they get a chance to have a look at your LinkedIn profile, your recommendations and learn a bit more about you and your company.

More importantly, whenever you post social media updates, the people you are connected to on LinkedIn can see it.

This is a great way to be remembered, as well as build trust with those you meet and speak to each day.

Step 5: Convert

convert

Now that you’ve generated some leads, followers and likes, you can sit back, relax, and watch the money roll in, right? Well, not yet (but you are close!)

People who become a part of your target audience on social media, and who provide you with their name and email address for your marketing database (also known as leads) are, in most cases, still not ready to buy.

The reason they not ready yet is because they have only heard about you for the first time.

You need to build up trust.

If you keep building trust, by providing more and more value to people, it will reach a tipping point where either a) they become a client/customer or b) refer you to a client/customer.

How to take prospects from a lead to sale

It’s all about providing value, building trust and being at the forefront of your prospects mind when they need your service, or know someone who does.

Here are the top three ways you can do that:

1) Share high-quality content on social media

A great way to provide value and stay in people’s minds is by sharing content that your target audience would find interesting through social media updates.

Another thing you can do on social media is to engage with your potential clients. A “like” on one of their posts, a positive comment on something they’ve shared, and so on, can go a long way towards building a relationship with your potential clients. It will definitely help you stick out and be remembered.

2) Create your own high-quality content

Although it’s great to share other people’s content via your social media channels, if you create your own content and share that too, you will get even better results.

Why?

Content marketing is simply a modern form of educational based marketing, and there’s no end to the benefits that this can provide for your business.

Here are a few:

  • You can position yourself as an expert and leader in your industry
  • You can answer people’s questions about what it is you do and how it works
  • You can educate people as to the benefits of what you do
  • You can get higher visibility on search engines
  • You can improve your conversion rate when speaking to prospects
  • You build a stronger brand
  • You build a better relationship with your existing and new customers.

It’s hard to ignore the results that can be achieved by creating your own content. It is just such a cost-effective way of marketing your business.

At first, it may feel like a slow process to see tangible results from your content marketing. The more you do it though, the more growth you will see. Within a year or two you could very easily quadruple your investment in content marketing.

So make sure you start creating content for your business (if you haven’t already) that provides as much value as possible and keep adding to it on a regular basis.

3) Follow up with people through email marketing

Email marketing, although more traditional in relative terms, is still far from dead. It’s an incredibly powerful way to continue to build relationships with people, if you use it correctly.

The way we recommend you use email marketing is to again provide value to people – not just sell to them through generic company newsletters.

One way to provide value is by sharing with them content that gives valuable, engaging information.

There are a number of tools (for example Mailchimp, ConvertKit, Infusionsoft, etc) that you can use to send out emails to people, and start to grow your email database. We aren’t committed to one provider in particular, as long as you use something!

Your email database is going to be the lifeblood of your business. It’s what will win you more customers over the many months and years to come.

An email list is a bit like having a plant. If you keep the plant well watered and trimmed, it will grow and prosper. If you neglect the plant it will die. There’s no in-between. Like a well-watered plant, you need to make sure your email list is looked after, cared for and continues to grow.

As you build more of a relationship with those on your email list, people will eventually buy from you when the time is right, or refer you to those that buy.

Be consistent and reap the rewards

Teamwork-large-web

The final part of the social media puzzle is to be consistent.

Marketing is a relentless process and not something you can just do once.

This is especially true of social media and content marketing. Don’t expect to dabble with Facebook adverts, post a couple of updates on Twitter, add a few connections on LinkedIn and then get instant results.

It takes time to build up a presence on social media, and it’s something that you need to do consistently over a long period of time for best results.

After a decent period of time (usually between 6 to 12 months) you can expect some great results, including:

  • A consistent stream of high-quality new leads for your business
  • A stronger brand that attracts new customers to you
  • A higher lifetime customer value (meaning your customers stay with you for longer and buy from you again and again)

Remember: social media and content marketing have a compounding effect on your business. Which means the longer you do this for, the better results you can get.

Imagine the impact this could have on your business in one year, two years or even three years from now?

So stick with it, put in the hard work and reap the rewards.