The “how to get loads of new leads from social media” blog post is a firm favourite in the small business press. I imagine this is largely because social networks are still something of a white elephant to many business owners, and those who have done it successfully like the opportunity to crow about their success.
The spread of these stories is no-doubt helped by the fact that that kind of content plays well on social networks. Socially-savvy businesspeople like to share stories about other socially-savvy businesspeople to prove that they “get it”. They can then slap each other’s backs, connect on LinkedIn, compare follower counts and toast their mutual success while deciding how big their headshot should appear on the masthead of their website – good times all round.
As I’ve said before, my advice to people looking to make hay on social media with their business is to have a look at how other people do it, then take the elements you like most and come up with your own strategy. There is no magic bullet, and anyone who tells you so is most likely trying to sell their consulting services.
That said, data is always useful when deciding how you want run a social media account that generates sales – and data is something I have plenty of.
First: a word of warning. Drumming up new business on social networks is hard. Generally speaking people hanging out on Twitter or Facebook aren’t in “buy mode” and don’t give two craps about what you’re selling. For us this is compounded by the fact that accounting is, like banking or utilities, a very “sticky” industry – it takes a lot of effort for someone to change suppliers.
Sites by conversion rate
Our main social channels at Crunch are, in descending order of fans / engagement; Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. Interestingly (or perhaps predictably, depending on your level of cynicism) the conversion rates, broadly speaking, are inversely proportional to how many fans we have on any given network.
Our LinkedIn company page has just a few hundred followers, yet leads that arrive through LinkedIn convert into full accounts at a rate of around 35% – not half bad.
Next we have Twitter (where we have almost 3,500 followers), which converts at a rate of just over 26%, and at the bottom we have Facebook (where we have around 700 Likes), which converts at 22%.
(We’ve only started tracking Google+ recently so there isn’t enough data to draw any meaningful conclusions there, my gut says the numbers will be similar to Facebook though)
It’s worth noting the raw volumes were still roughly speaking in line with the number of followers we had on any particular network – Twitter generated the most leads by a factor of about 3.
Another interesting tidbit – the number of leads coming through social channels has mushroomed by about 250% in the last six months. Our strategy hasn’t changed, so perhaps this represents a broader trend of people becoming more comfortable using social networks for business.
These figures came as a bit of a surprise to all of us – LinkedIn is just the social network people use when they’re job-hunting, right? In hindsight it makes perfect sense. Who goes looking for a new accountant on Facebook?
Making your social activity work is still only one piece of an increasingly leaky bucket. Should you entice someone to click on your link they still have to follow the normal process on your website to become a lead, so in essence you’re just adding another layer of complexity to the buying process. By analysing the quality of lead that comes through each network you can, at least, maximise your chances of success.