Marketers regularly leverage social networks and media sites to find new leads and industry connections. However, their tendency to focus on isolated Web 2.0 strategies often impedes their success.
A combined social media strategy can be powerful, says Robert Rosenthal, Founder, Mothers of Invention. He incorporates Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging into his direct marketing agency’s lead generation strategy.
“When you add everything up over the past two years that we’ve been into this stuff deeply, our total lead volume for the shop we’re able to attribute to this is certainly in the triple digits, certainly somewhere north of 100% [additional] lead volume,” Rosenthal says.
Each of the social tools holds a special place in Rosenthal’s strategy. They help him:
o Find and nurture new leads
o Find higher quality leads
o Avoid undesirable clients
o Stay connected with industry contacts
o Find potential partners
Rosenthal shares his strategy for each tool. He explains how he ties them together and how you can use them to bring in more high-quality leads.Integrate 4 elements of your social-media strategy1. Facebook
Rosenthal launched the ‘What I Saw at the Direct Marketing Revolution’ Facebook group in November 2007. It has since grown to 1,150 members – one of the largest direct marketing groups on the network.
Members discuss topics such as “Fascinating Direct Marketing Test Results” and “What Essential Tests Should Direct Marketers Run to Stay Up to Date?” There’s also a job exchange.
A. Strategy: Network
Mostly, Rosenthal participates in ‘What I Saw at the Direct Marketing Revolution.’ He contributes to discussions, starts new topics and interacts with group members. It’s been a great way to meet people in the industry, he says.
B. Benefit: Find New Business
“This Facebook group is emerging as a new business source… [We also make] all sorts of interesting industry connections and referral opportunities where we’re able to team up with different organizations,” he says.
C. Challenge: Follow Conventions
Facebook is not a free-for-all. There are rules – some of which have broadsided a few marketers. Save yourself a lot of trouble: Read the terms of service.
“For example, if you launched your identity on Facebook as [your company’s name], I think you’d be in violation on the terms of service because you’d be posing as someone else,” Rosenthal says.
Also, prominent bloggers have had their Facebook accounts canceled for exceeding the 5,000-friends limit. The cap is designed to thwart spammers, Rosenthal says.2. The Blog
Rosenthal launched his blog, Freaking Marketing, in January 2006. He adds about two posts a week to help “spread the shop’s philosophy,” he says.
A. Strategy: Evangelize
On the blog, Rosenthal tries to convey the company’s “philosophy, our attitude, our priorities, our beliefs.” He also features some of his agency’s work and embeds videos created for clients.
B. Benefit: Higher Quality Leads
“[The blog] is really a filter that sends out a message that attracts like-minded people and even eliminates the people that wouldn’t be good clients… If people go through the blog, they’ll get a good idea of what the shop is about, they’ll know a good deal about me and it really allows for a better fit [with clients],” he says.
C. Challenge: Promote the Blog
Rosenthal spreads the word about his blog by:
-Advertising it to his email database
-Submitting posts to social media sites, such as Digg
-Forwarding posts to bloggers and reporters
-Mentioning it on other social networking platforms 3. Twitter
Rosenthal started using this free micro-blogging service in early 2007. His “tweet” frequency ranges from two a day to two a week, and he has about 400 followers, he says.
A. Strategy: Micro-evangelize and Personalize
“As soon as there are any developments in the shop, or a new post on Freaking Marketing, or an interesting addition to ‘What I Saw at the Direct Marketing Revolution,’ [my followers] know about it,” he says.
In addition, Rosenthal includes tidbits about his daily life to connect personally with his audience.
“I just go on there from time to time and talk about literally what I’m doing, what’s going on in my life. Sometimes I’ll mention that it’s a beautiful morning and my little girl just asked me to go for a ride on the bike,” he says.
B. Benefit: Spreading the Word
The benefits Rosenthal sees to using Twitter are similar to the benefits from blogging. It allows him to convey his company’s philosophy, promote its work and connect with people on a personal level.
C. Challenge: Finding Followers
Rosenthal finds most of his Twitter followers by subscribing to streams of other people who return the favor. Others come by naturally, by finding Rosenthal on the Twitter website, or by linking to his stream from his blog, Facebook profile or LinkedIn profile.4. LinkedIn
Rosenthal created a LinkedIn profile about three years ago. He now has more than 250 connections, keeping him in touch with former clients and contacts throughout the industry.
A. Strategy: Build Directory
LinkedIn is more of a social directory than a socializing tool. Rosenthal’s main tactic is to know where to connect with former clients and industry contacts. However, he occasionally uses the service to answer direct marketing-related questions, he says.
B. Benefit: Keep Track of Contacts
“A lot of our clients are at software companies, and the turnover at those places is really extraordinary. So, an advantage is -- once they’re a LinkedIn connection, no matter where they go, you know where they are,” Rosenthal says.
C. Challenge: Finding More Contacts
Rosenthal suggests allowing LinkedIn to run through your email contacts to find people already on the network. Compatible platforms include Microsoft Office Outlook, Yahoo! Mail and Gmail, he says. Also, any time you meet a new person, send them an invitation to join the network and become a connection.6 Key Takeaways for Your Strategy
o Link to all of your social platforms -- everywhere
Every one of Rosenthal’s profiles links to his profiles on other networking sites. Together, the tools find new clients and contacts, teach them about the business and keep in touch with them over time.
o Devote yourself to genuinely connecting
It’s important to focus on making conversation, not sales, when you’re on a social network. “If it’s really a veiled attempt to just push out your product, people are going to pick up on that and they’re going to know you’re not authentic and they’re going to dismiss you right off the bat,” Rosenthal says.
o Allocate enough time
This strategy’s greatest obstacle is the time required. Rosenthal says it takes about five hours a week to maintain the four tools, but it “varies wildly.” If you have a blog, you have to maintain it. In this milieu, few things look worse than old content.
o Be choosy with your networks
It’s easy to go overboard with so many available networks, but resist the temptation. “Don’t spread yourself too thin. Pick your spots and do something where you’re able to make a meaningful contribution and not only get it launched but keep it going and do justice to it,” Rosenthal says.
o Create a backlog
The quality of your conversations and blog posts will suffer if you’re pressed for time. To keep his content quality high, Rosenthal writes enough blog posts to have a backlog of entries he can rely on in emergencies.
o Mention your social strategy. Again.
Always promote your social strategy. A quick mention, such as, “I’m also on Facebook, if you ever want to connect there” or “We also have a blog you might be interested in” to people you meet in your industry can help build your network. And, if you have a house email list, use it.Links related to this article:
Sherpa Article: Get famous using Twitter to market your company and yourself
Sherpa Article: Tutorial: How to market yourself & your company on Facebook
Facebook: What I saw at the direct marketing revolution group
Twitter: Robert Rosenthal
LinkedIn: Robert Rosenthal
Freaking Marketing blog
Mothers of Invention: direct marketing agency