I had a business meeting with a webmaster and a LinkedIn group administrator whom I have came to know through LinkedIn. We had a fruitful discussion on ways to benefit from the online hubs managed and a partnership that can be financially and socially impactful.
This small encounter led me to think of how our social media and other virtual activities are extending their boundaries to touch our daily lives. Something that was not feasible in the past or believable by many even today.
I write a lot about the ROI of endeavors we undergo online. As someone who has been in the field for long, I am a strong advocate of what digital and social media can offer. However, on this very topic, bridging the gap between the virtual world and ours need strategic thinking to justify the investment, if any, and naturally gain the results thought after, those being lead acquisition or brand awareness.
Social media, the Human Factor
Many would argue that being on social media and being social are not the same thing. As those who tweet or post to Facebook might not have the basic real skills to bridge the gap. I as many is very particulate about connections I’ve made online. By now, most have reached the consensus that on informal channels like SnapChat or Facebook, we tend to connect with family and friends, while we open up on formal channels like LinkedIn and reach to individuals who are by definition strangers and the only link is a mutual connection or a business initiative.
I reference the human factor as the main contributor that drives the channels. However, when it comes to business interactions, the strategy of the activities on social media is what really matters.
Lead Generation from Social
There are a lot of stats that question the ROI of social media when it comes to lead generation. With many social channels promoting sponsored content as a way to engage businesses to be more targeted and reach more relevant audience; bridging the gap seem like quite of an investment if we do want to extend our social foot print and engage in a one-to-one business relationship with key prospects. I do not want to deny the importance of paid sponsored content, however, I do see ways to reach the right audience with minimal to no investment, these include:
- LinkedIn Groups
- Twitter Mentions / Direct Messages
Groups or what we knew formally as forums are very cost effective ways to reach out to target audience directly and if we are strategic enough with the approach, can for sure bridge the gap and convert those virtual connections to real leads. Some research is in order to identify groups that are active and have an engaged audience. With groups, the common “Netiquette” and rules provided by the groups admin need to be respected and content posting should be strategically created to match the group description. In my case, I have approached the group admin and our discussions led to a meeting about posting content and gaining access to a wider but targeted audience.
Twitter Direct Messages
Although not as straight forward as the groups since the accounts and descriptions on Twitter are not as well categorized as the groups, and naturally, not as detailed to reveal the identity of the individual. Nevertheless, with the loads of tools available to build the communities on Twitter, one can, with a lot of research, find real leads that can be approached directly through direct messages from Twitter or through targeted Tweets with mentions. I am not saying this is easy, and it might require more time and a lot of trials and errors, but is still cost effective in comparison.
In both cases, the key investment is in your community manager, the person who is responsible for the social activities at your organization. He/she would need to run the research and naturally the time spent need to be quantified with the leads acquired. In a niche business where the lead value is in 5 to 6 figures. Maybe the time spent to bridge the gap is worth finding that one lead.
Have your say? Do you justify the ROI of working on social media channels to gain quality one-to-one business relationships?