Earlier this month, Facebook announced that it had 1 billion monthly active users.
While this isn’t (or, at least, shouldn’t be) a wake-up call for marketers, it certainly emphasizes how the social network can be a potentially rich source of leads. We spoke with some experts who shared their insights on how marketers should tackle Facebook to effectively generate leads.
Conversations, not sales
“First off, stop looking at Facebook as a way to generate leads,” says Michael Drew, a marketing professional and co-author of “Pendulum: How Past Generations Shape Our Present and Predict Our Future.” He encourages marketers to stop selling and to engage people in conversations.
Drew expands on his view by saying that marketers should be pulling, not pushing. “Push is about selling,” he says. “Selling is the process of convincing people to take an action they didn’t initially intend to take. Pull is about converting. Conversion is giving people a simple process where by they can take the action they intended to take.”
Jill Harrison, manager of public relations for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, echoes this sentiment. “I think the first thing marketers need to do is stop talking about themselves all the time,” she says. “Be a part of the conversation. That is the best way to attract initial interest before going for the ‘hard sell.’”
Ammon Brown, vice president of New York City-based digital media solutions provider TRAFFIQ, adds: “Advertisers who speak to the user will see much better results than advertisers who just talk about themselves. Rather than ‘Check out our blue widgets,’ advertisers should say, ‘Is your favorite color blue? Try our widgets!’”
Use Facebook’s Open Graph
Marketers should remember that Facebook’s Open Graph enables them to make their relationships and interactions with consumers contextually relevant. “The Open Graph enables brands to interact with consumers across all touch points — website, e-commerce storefront and more — to create these contextually relevant stories, which are then broadcast via Facebook to the consumer’s Timeline, as well as their friends’ News Feeds and tickers,” says Angela Bandlow, vice president of marketing for consumer-to-consumer social marketing firm Extole. “All of these stories create powerful, relevant earned media that allows brands to drive word-of-mouth and, most importantly, leads.”
Bandlow adds that Open Graph gives marketers a wealth of information, including who shares stories about the brand, products and services; and reach (impressions), engagement (clicks) and conversions across the News Feed, ticker and Timeline. “By using this information, a brand could see that females in a certain demographic were dramatically outperforming other demographics, and reallocate ad budget accordingly, thus increasing leads.”
Using Facebook’s Open Graph also allows brands to engage consumers in a manner that’s deeper than a simple “like,” which doesn’t yield consistent, measurable ROI, according to Ian Smith, director of engagement of Los Angeles-based branded entertainment agency mOcean. “It enables brands to build applications that connect with consumers both on and off of Facebook, and gives them a new way to target and communicate with those users,” he says.
This, in turn, enables marketers to leverage users’ Timelines to tell their story for them. “The value of a consumer’s Timeline is that the brand can align itself directly with that person’s social currency, which in many ways is far more valuable than paid media,” Smith adds.
Use Facebook Sponsored Stories and Promoted Posts
Bandlow also suggests that marketers use Sponsored Stories instead of ads on Facebook. “Sponsored Stories are significantly more relevant than most advertising because friends are endorsing brands and providing social context.”
She adds that Sponsored Stories offer unparalleled targeting, which will give brands better click-through rates and conversions.
It’s also worth noting that Sponsored Stories are currently the only ads that appear in Facebook’s mobile apps (remember that Facebook boasts more than 600 million mobile users).
James LaPorte, community manager at digital marketing agency Blast Radius, tells marketers to amplify their messages with Promoted Posts. “Facebook makes it easy to promote any post you make to a highly targeted group of prospects,” he says. “Promote your posts strategically to reach a larger audience.”
Use Facebook Offers
LaPorte adds that marketers should use Facebook Offers, which “are like coupons on steroids.” When an offer is created on Facebook, it shows up in the News Feeds of fans of the company’s page. But the true power of Facebook Offers is seen when people redeem them.
“When one of your fans redeems your offer, then it can be seen by their entire social graph,” he says. “One offer sent to 1,000 fans can easily reach tens of thousands of people.”
Asking for an email address before a fan is able to claim an offer will help marketers engage with them after the offer is over.
Use custom apps
Another Facebook tool marketers can use to generate leads is apps. “Custom apps that you add to your Facebook brand page are great for lead generation because they allow customers and prospects to interact with your brand while providing information to you,” says Stacey Acevero, social media community manager for Vocus/PRWeb. “For example, North Social has a slew of simple-to-install apps that include lead-generation forms embedded within the app so your Facebook users don’t even have to leave the page.”
Bonus: Test and adjust
“See what your community responds best to and keep doing it,” says LaPorte. “Every community is different and may respond differently. See what works and continue to refine it over time.”
By Jason Hahn