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The Power of Social Prospecting

Katelyn Ahern Digital Project Manager
#Digital Marketing, #Inbound Marketing, #Social Media
Published on February 28, 2014

Social media can be a tricky tool to leverage for business. Learn how to generate new leads using the power of social prospecting.

"You can’t drive new customers with social media."

We’ve all heard this statement before, and whether you believe it to be true or not, I am here to clear some things up about this bold generalization.

The opportunity to engage with new customers is absolutely available via social media. Several companies have found success with this strategy. According to the State of Inbound Marketing Report, “Companies that acquired customers from Facebook: B2C is 77% and B2B is 43%”.

The more important variable to focus on is not whether social media can drive new customers or not, but rather how social media can drive new customers. I have mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again: just being present on social media channels is not enough. You must strategize your movements on social media in order to leverage these channels to best meet your business goals. One great way to do this is with social prospecting.

What is social prospecting?

When you search social media channels for prospects that your company can help, you’re practicing social prospecting. These prospects may be people who would benefit from your services, or they might be people who would simply benefit from your company’s knowledge in the industry. Once you find these prospects, you can reach out to them and show them how you can help make their lives easier.

This doesn’t mean just throwing your content at anyone on social channels that seems like they might be interested in your services. Social media is about engaging with others in a helpful or fun way, and you shouldn’t forget this just because you are now using these channels for business. People don’t like to be talked to as if you are just trying to sell them your services. Instead, if your content can help them in their job or with any struggles they are experiencing in their business, then they will be more than happy to engage with you.

At this point, you are probably thinking “How can I engage with strangers on social media without being annoying or, even worse, creepy?” Well, that’s where the social prospecting strategies come into play. These strategies will help you find social media users who can benefit from your knowledge and provide tips on the best ways to engage on the various channels. Also, while you are practicing these strategies, remember that your main goal should be to be helpful. People often don’t want to ask for help, but when help is offered, most are open to accepting it.

How Can I Get Started?

Although social prospecting will vary by platform, for each one you will need a few key components:

  • Keywords that people may use to find you on social media (I recommend long-tail keywords).
  • Content offerings related to those keywords (If you haven’t defined your content strategy, learn about doing so here).

Once you have created these components, you’re ready to target prospects on your selected social media channels. I recommend starting with a channel on which you’ve already established a presence. This way, when you reach out to people, they can see your company’s active channel instead of a new user page. Our Social Prospecting Workbook goes in depth on how to leverage each network’s specific tools to help you with social
prospecting success. The included social networks are Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+. How do you engage with new customers on social media channels? Have you found that one channel works better than others? Let us know in the comments.