2futureI‘m a huge fan of Hubspot‘s marketing resources and since I know that many of our readers don’t always have the time to read a 21 page eBook. I summarized "The Future of Social Media Lead Management" for you.

Social database growth

You are aware that your marketing database is the key to employing social media information into the rest of your marketing efforts and overall strategy. As a marketer, your strongest asset is your database of contacts: email and blog subscribers, leads, customers, evangelists and now your social media followers have become an essential part of this list, too.

Your email database consists of contacts that have opted in to receive your marketing resources, announcements or promotions should be interacting with your content by opening, clicking, and forwarding your emails. Your social media database works in a similar fashion. It consists of followers and fans who want to engage with your brand online. They’re retweeting, resharing, and repinning your posts. Clearly, they have an interest in the things that you are saying and the product/service you have to offer.

By using one unified marketing database, you can add a layer of social media insights to your existing contacts, thus gaining valuable information to target messages, nurture leads and attract new contacts to your business. In this context, the interests and actions of your email recipients and social followers overlap. The act of opting in to receive email updates from a company is very similar to that, for instance, of hitting the ‘Like’ button on a Facebook page. The future of social media and the key to expanding the size of your marketing database reside with the growth of your social media database.

Growth of followers and finding of influencers

In order to build your social database, you need to increase your followers. The rate at which your following grows, no matter whether you’re a widely known consumer brand or a small software business, continues to be an obstacle. The key to solving this challenge is to find the right type of information to post and the right people to share it with. Content is the key to increasing the pace at which you attract new social media followers. Here are 6 tips to build upon that basic, but fundamental, strategy:

  1. Fun - people are often looking for something that will simply give them a good laugh. Regardless of what your brand tone is, ensure that your fans are actually enjoying the content you share.
  2. Visual - 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. So you need to think about visuals on every social level. Invest time in ensuring your images are as great as your messages.
  3. Educational - even though people are browsing for something quick to understand, they love retweeting or resharing content that makes them look smart. That, in turn, will extend the reach of your content.
  4. Employee networks -your employees have networks that you can use as a means to increase your own. Social media users are following your employees purely because of the content they share, industry they’re in, or company they work at. Send your employees “lazy tweets,” pre-crafted tweets that they can simply copy and paste into their own streams. If they’re handed the message, they’ll be more willing to share, which will result in a more streamlined effort and help new followers discover the original curator of the message: you.
  5. Filter messages - failure to respond via social channels can lead to up to a 15% increase in churn rate. The problem is: who actually has the time to respond to every social message? Luckily, there are tools (e.g. Hubspot) which allow you to create filters based on user types, letting you create a feed of people using certain keywords, thus enabling you to cut through the clutter and respond to the right people.
  6. Influencer interaction - one key ingredient in amplifying the rate of follower growth is the people sharing your content. Spend time researching who your influencers are and find ways to mention them in order to incorporate their Twitter handle or Facebook page in your message. That gives them a reason to reshare or retweet your content and broadcast your brand name to their following.

Segmenting existing social contacts

Now that you’ve built your following and you’ve created your social database by targeting social influencers, you have to segment them, of course! That’s where the value of a unified marketing database comes into play. Use that data to segment your messaging effectively, and to the right people - those who are already interacting with you and/or represent your persona.

Of course, segmentation doesn’t stop here. There are other options to target the right people from your contacts database based on their social media activity. Let’s look at some examples:.

1. Take advantage of users with big networks

If you have a large announcement approaching, try sending an email before the launch to a select group of social influencers. You can setup an email that will be sent to Twitter users with a follower account above XYZ. Acknowledge the fact that you’re reaching out to these users because of their large networks and that you’re looking for their help to spread a message. You’ll make the person feel empowered. And by including social sharing links, you’ll start generating buzz around your new announcement with people who can actually help spread the word!

2. Share offers that can be redeemed on that network

If you’re hosting a Twitter chat or contest or any form of an event on Twitter, reach out to the folks who are already clicking on your tweets and give them the exclusive heads up about the chat or contest. Twitterers might feel left out when they see their favorite brand just gave away some cool swag on Twitter, but they didn’t know about it. Set up an email to be sent to users who have clicked on your tweets more than a certain number times (say, three times), and let them know you appreciate the fact that they engage with you on Twitter and wanted to reward them with a heads up on your upcoming contest or chat.

3. Request feedback

The great thing about social media is that it opened up a tremendous feedback mechanism and you now have the opportunity to take advantage of it. Want to collect thoughts about your marketing content? Great. Ask the people who consume it. They’ll feel appreciated and respected when they get the chance to provide you with feedback -- and they might have some awesome suggestions!

Nurturing leads with social

You can nurture your social contacts based on their interactions with your brand and general interests:

1. Share the right content with the right people

The problem with followers on social media is that you cannot measure the extent to which these fans are actually engaging with your brand. You don’t know the specific people interacting with your updates. Allocate a few hours weekly to discovering these people. Look at who is retweeting and commenting on your content, and cross-reference that with your contacts database. Instead of sending mass email blasts, contact and nurture those leads who are actually interacting with your brand.

2. Send product or service oriented mails

When it comes to email marketing, your boss most likely wants you to send communication about your product or service. Meanwhile, as a marketer, you likely want to email broader lead generation content in order to boost engagement. There is balance between the two, and it comes down to segmentation. When you monitor the people who engage with your social media content, separate them into groups and allow those interested in your product/service to receive more communication about your special deals.

In the world of social media marketing, there are two business metrics that you need to be constantly monitoring: the rate at which you grow your following and the rate at which that following gets further involved with your organization.

The key to moving the first metric, the expansion of your social media following, is all about exposing your brand to the extended reach of your existing customers. This will help you grow your social media database and provide you with social information to manage that database.

The key to moving the second metric, the conversion of social media followers into engaged contacts, is social lead nurturing - any interaction between a company and a lead that is informed by or channeled through social media.

Not only do these two complement each other, but they are both essential for your success with social media marketing.

Using the social database in the sales process

You’ve learned that the future of social media marketing lies in the intelligent management of your social leads: the ability to recognize influencers, segment groups of users based on their social activity and interests and the timing of appropriate follow-up communication, the question how social impacts your sales process however still remains. Marketers have increasingly invested in social media (59% of marketers report spending six hours or more on it weekly), but they’re still struggling to find a reliable way to use social to boost sales.

The entire social contacts and social segmentation process described so far in this ebook reveals lead intelligence that can be used by your sales team. Spreading your leads’ social information will empower you to perfect your sales and marketing alignment. (Source: hubspot.com)

By Anjum Siddiqi