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Using Social Media for Lead Generation

As someone who is self-employed, it stands to reason you know more than a little about social media by now. You probably have a Facebook page, Twitter account and a LinkedIN profile. Maybe you’re even on Google+ or whatever. No doubt you have watched videos on YouTube. But that said, being a casual participant on social media in a personal way is a lot different than actively and purposefully using it to grow your business, and that is what I would like to address today – using social media for lead generation.

…it is far too easy for many people to get lost in that vast social media sea…

The problem is that social media is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it offers a vast sea of possibilities and people to meet; people and opportunities you otherwise would not meet and have in the physical, real, non-nonvirtual world.

But on the other hand, it is far too easy for many people to get lost in that vast social media sea, or to spend too much time there because being at sea can be more fun than working. You can even drown in this sea if you end up wasting your time, marketing efforts, energy, and precious capital chasing leads that never materialize.

Let’s not do that. Let’ use our social media time effectively. Specifically, when it comes to lining up sales, there are two things to do. And the good news is that, as opposed to using it to build your brand or attract a ton of Twitter followers (both of which can be useful in their own right), using social media to create leads and sales can happen immediately, and you don’t even have to be a social-media expert to do it.

They first key is to use the search function within each of the main social media sites to search for and locate people who would likely be interested in what you sell and do. That is, you can use these search tools to instantly create a list of viable leads:

  • On Facebook, simply search for the relevant keywords words (like, say, “sporting goods stores” in “San Antonio.”)
  • On LinkedIn, check out the “advanced search” function. By using this tool, you can find people with a specific job title or who work for a specific company. You can also search professions, businesses, industries, and so on.
  • On Twitter, use hashtags (#) to locate discussions around certain areas, or simply use the Twitter search function to find people in your field.

Then, once you have your list of potential leads from these three sites, whittle it down, and away you go.

The second method takes a little more time but is also useful. Here, the thing to do is to join relevant groups on the sites. You can search for and join groups of which you know your potential customers would be a part. Engage them, get to know them, and before long, pitch them. On Twitter, you can use hashtags to find relevant discussions and approach the participants.

Either way, by searching for and finding relevant people, groups and discussions, you can get in front of your targeted audience quickly, and without wasting too much time watching videos of cute cats!

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About Steve Strauss

Senior small business columnist at USA TODAY and author of 15 books, including The Small Business Bible, Steve is your host here at TheSelfEmployed.com.


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