Social media can be a powerful tool for small businesses to generate high-quality leads. Photo: File

DURBAN - Generating sales and growing revenue is a challenge that nearly all small businesses share. 

To get it right, you need access to plenty of good leads that you can hopefully convert into sales, but lead generation can be an expensive, hit-and-miss process. The good news is social media can be a powerful tool for generating high-quality leads.

With some 23 million active users in South Africa according to We Are Social, social media is a great place to find prospects. It’s not without its pitfalls, though. It’s easy to annoy people if you come across as pushy or self-serving on your social media accounts, for example, but the rewards can be significant. Thoughtful interactions and quality content that put the customer’s needs first are the keys to success.

Here are some ideas you can use to help generate good leads from social media:

Use custom hashtags

If you want to stand out from the crowd, you could create custom hashtags for your company, products and promotions. Hashtags make your content discoverable for people who are interested in what you’re doing, help get your audience involved in promoting your brand, and allow you to identify customers who are interested in engaging with you.

Here are some tips for creating memorable and effective hashtags:

1. Be original. Don’t copy a competitor or international brand.
2. Make it precise and targeted rather than generic.
Use title case so people can easily identify the words in the hashtag.
3. Don’t be too boastful or self-promotional.
4. Ensure it’s easy to understand.
5. Read it and re-read it to make sure it can’t be misread. For example, a while back the trending Twitter hashtag #nowthatchersdead was meant to be read as “now Thatcher’s dead” – not “now that Cher’s dead”.
 
Create social media ‘lead magnets’

One of the most powerful tactics in the content marketer’s toolbox is the so-called lead magnet, an offer or piece of content that is so desirable people will sign up to your e-mail database or register an account on your website to get their hands on it.

Some examples include an exclusive discount or competition for registered users, a free webinar, or, in the business-to-business space, a white paper.

Here are some good practices for using this tactic effectively:

Create a dedicated customer page on your website, often referred to as a landing page, that encourages users to register or supply their e-mail address.
Use a strong call to action in your social media posts to get people interested. For example: “Check out ten expert tips to get ROI from social media”.
Share social media and blog posts about the content a few times to generate interest.
 
Invest in targeted advertising on social media platforms

Paid advertisements on social media networks can be an effective way to reach potential customers who don’t follow you, in turn helping to boost your following and create leads. Plus, paid content can increase the chances that people who follow you will see your great content.

The way the algorithms on social platforms often work, means people generally can see more posts from friends or family than from the brands they ‘like’ and follow. A promoted post or ad can bring your content to a users’ attention when they might otherwise miss it. 

Benefits of paid posts and ads on social media include how precisely you can target the right profile of customer for your business, the ease with which you can measure results, and the control you have over how much money you spend. You can allocate a budget, target a group as niche as female trail runners in Bloemfontein, then measure how many of them interacted with your content, for example.

Create a buzz with flash sales and contests

Everyone likes a freebie or a good deal, so flash sales and competitions can work effectively on social media. Create a sense of urgency by mentioning the deadline for the promotion or competition entries. If your following is large enough, you might want to consider adding a user-generated content angle which can work quite nicely.

Host live video streams or Q&As

Social media offers a cool way to interact with your audience, live and in real-time. A Q&A on a channel like Twitter or a live video stream on Facebook or Instagram offer the opportunity to talk to people in real-time, listen to their questions and have a bit of fun. If you’re a tax practitioner, for example, you can comment live as the finance minister gives his budget speech. For a tech retailer, you could unbox the latest smartphone or gaming console on a live stream.

By Selina Bieber, Regional Director for Turkey and MENA at GoDaddy EMEA

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE