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Social Selling 201: Defining the Social Lead

Posted on 12.26.2013

:: By Tukan Das, LeadSift ::

Social media continues to change the business world. It’s changing the interaction with customers, partners, suppliers and even colleagues. It’s changed the way we do business and has changed the way we tell our brands story.

For years, the concept of a business lead has been examined through the lens of a transaction (e.g. a potential sales opportunity). However this thought needs to reexamined, as a lead in the traditional sense has been forever changed now that we live in the connected world of today. Right now, as you are reading this article, there are potentially hundreds of conversations about your industry, brand and offering happening on social media. Some of these conversations will be highly relevant to your business while others will be nothing more than noise. Those conversations that are both relevant and “engageable” are what we define as a Social Lead. It’s actionable. It’s relevant. And it’s timely. 

Businesses that are not targeting social leads are missing out on millions of sales and engagement opportunities every single year. Marketing and sales professionals in industries such as tourism, automotive, telecom, retail and anything else that people are talking about on social networks, which accounts for pretty much every industry on the planet, are missing out on these unique opportunities. Social leads not only assist brands in filling their cash registers, but also help create lasting relationships with current and potential customers. 

Defining a Lead

Every day, hour and minute, people are being influenced by social media to make their purchase decisions by comparing products, asking for recommendations and simply finding more information about different products and services. All of this chatter is not simply noise, but are opportunities for brands to get involved and engage with potential customers. 

The bottom line is that people have problems, which they love to talk about on social networks. Brands have solutions to these problems, but because they do not know how to identify a lead clearly, they are essentially ignoring these problems and missing chances to close business.  

In the time it takes to read this article there will be an average of 2,183 Tweets about travel, 3,201 Tweets about automotive and 1,130 Tweets about electronics. All of which are missed opportunities for those in these industries that are not scanning for social leads. Less than 1 percent of all social leads are responded to by brands on Twitter. However, only a small fraction of these Tweets are actual leads, the rest are just noise. How do you identify what is what? 

Let’s take a closer look on how to define these leads. Below are a few examples of random Tweets that companies in these particular industries should NOT be ignoring. 

“Did anyone else get a $99.95/3 year deal in the mail to switch to FiberOp? I can’t find it on the bellaliant sit #moncton” @hanngurger 

“Dreary day in #DC. Someone cheer my up. Car shipping this weekend should be a blast (or not).” @susanlbrannigan 

“Dear @eastlink your email gateways are so frustrating & ancient I am switching to FibreOP. I’m done.” @webconomist 

The traditional scanning of social media noise would allow the brands mentioned above to target these people and provide any explanation needed. However, it has been proven that more times than not, brands that are not mentioned specially by name in a Tweet are most likely going to miss these opportunities. Scanning for Tweets that are focused on competitors and the industry as a whole can drive consumers away from a particular brand or simply capture the attention of people that are undecided. Customers love to feel loved and important. Touching someone when they did not reach out to a certain brand directly makes them feel important and heard therefore increasing that brands chances of closing the deal. 

Now that we understand that companies are missing out on leads on social networks, we need to talk about social leads vs. social noise. One of the most complex aspects of identifying leads via Twitter is cutting through the noise and understanding the difference between a potential lead and what is simply not. Take a look at the below…

Okay, I think I have a lead – now how do I make contact?  

A lead is defined as a potential sales contact: an individual or organization that expresses and interest in a specific good or service. This definition can be found with both traditional and social leads. How do you respond to a lead without making it awkward? The answer is simple, respond like a human – like you would when an actual person walked into your store or called you on the phone. 

 “I really hate Time Warner cable” @tash_SoPretty

“@Tash_SoPretty Perhaps it’s time for a new provider. Would you like to hear about our offers.” @directTV

Try to personalize the message by looking for clues in the person’s social media profile. Let’s look at a scenario between a car dealership and someone Tweeting about how they need a new car. Brands should take a look at the Tweeters profile to see what they like and work that into a response. For example, if they like dogs, the car dealership can mention what cars are great for furry friends. Remember, people like to buy from people so don’t act like a robot, instead, make sure you personalize your message. 

Depending on the size and geographical reach of a brand, the number of leads uncovered can sometimes be overwhelming. Social media industry experts are predicting that the way of the future with leads is social data for targeted advertising. While advertising will never be better than the human interaction element that comes from personally responding to a lead, social data for targeted advertising will serve as a great tool for brands that are on a global scale and need to reach a large pool of leads. 

Social media will only continue to change the way people interact and do business. For businesses and brands, it is simple; you are missing out on dollars if you are not looking for leads on social networks. Get out there, and let people know their voices are being heard because even though our world is constantly evolving into a more connected online environment one core traditional businesses element remains – people like to buy from people and building relationship and letting people know they are being heard and loved is the best way to grow and maintain a successful profitable business. 

Tukan Das is the co-founder of LeadSift, a platform to identify actionable business opportunities from social media. At LeadSift, he is the hacker, hustler and the dreamer where he is working with his team to make social sales a reality. Outside of work, he likes to watch cricket, soccer and Jon Stewart! Connect with him on Twitter @tdas

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