likes-are-great-social-media-facebook-coverSocial media is a proven winner for B2C marketers, and recent research proves it. In fact, according to a survey from Vision Critical, four out of 10 consumers buy products that they’ve liked, tweeted about, favorited, or pinned on their social network of choice. But what about B2B marketers? How are they using social to reach their prospects? It appears that when it comes to reaching business customers through social channels, content is the key. According to a study from MarketingProfs, 87% of B2B marketers are using social media platforms to promote their content marketing.

However, there’s a problem with using social media to deliver content to business prospects. The thing is, Facebook likes, Twitter retweets, Pinterest pins and LinkedIn followers don’t necessarily translate into new customers – or measurable return on investment (ROI). Without a strong strategy in place, as well as the proper tools to measure the impact of your social campaigns, you may be wasting both your time and your budget on social media marketing.

Look at it this way. Which would you rather have, 1,000 followers who never do more than like or retweet your content, or 500 followers who actually visit your site and recommend your brand to others? Obviously you’d rather have the latter, especially if they fit the profile of your ideal customer. After all, the purpose of social media marketing isn’t to gain new fans, it’s to acquire high-value customers. What does it take to make that happen, and how can you turn those interactions into increased revenue?

You can find the answers to these questions and many more in a new Act-On eBook, Likes are Good, Leads Are Better: How to Grow Your Business Using Social Media, written by Jamie Turner. He’s the co-author of How to Make Money with Social Media and Go Mobile, and he’s also the CEO of 60 Second Communications, a marketing communications firm that specializes in ROI-based marketing campaigns.

In the eBook, Jamie provides six valuable tips that can help B2B marketers use social media to turn followers into loyal paying customers. Here’s a quick overview of what’s inside.

1. Focus on the quality – not the quantity – of followers

It’s easy to get distracted by the number of followers you have. People even pay for fake followers to inflate their numbers. But those followers won’t impress your potential customers, and they certainly won’t generate any leads for your business. The goal is to attract real people – and real prospects – so you can convert them into paying customers. To do that, you need to have an engaging social media program. And you also need to identify key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can use to benchmark the success or failure of your campaigns.

2. Figure out how much you should spend on marketing

In order to determine how much you should invest, first you need to determine your customer lifetime value (CLV). CLV is the amount of revenue you’ll generate from a typical customer during the period of time they buy your products or services. So for example, if your CLV is $10,000, what kind of budget should you spend to acquire that customer? The answer varies from industry to industry, but if you spent $500 in marketing costs in order to generate $10,000 in CLV, you’d be in good shape. In other words, if it costs you $500 to acquire a new customer, and that customer generates $10,000 in revenue for your company, then you effectively spent $1 in order to get $20. That’s a good return on investment and one that would be worth repeating.

3. Use marketing automation software to improve your results

The real value of social media becomes apparent when you are able to deepen your relationship with prospects, drive them to your website, and convert them into customers. Creating brand awareness isn’t just about building buzz. It’s about giving prospects information about your company so they can come to know you, trust you, and, eventually, depend on you. If you use social media to increase brand awareness with your prospects, then what can you use to drive the leads to your business and convert them to customers? That’s where marketing automation can help. Marketing automation makes it possible for you to capture leads and then nurture them throughout the journey until they become customers. It also helps to have some high quality content to deliver to your prospects at every stage of their journey.

4. Create customer segments and focus on their specific interests

likes-are-great-social-media-rainbowNot all prospects are interested in the same offerings from your company. And they’re not all at the same point in the sales cycle, either. You need to gather as much data about each one as you can in order to understand what they’re looking for – and gather like-minded customers into segments so you can market to them in similar ways. You can use content that’s gated behind forms to collect information. You can analyze what they click on and which pages they visit on your website. And you can use lead scoring to assign points to certain actions and characteristics. So for example, a prospect in upper management who found your site through LinkedIn and who visits the pricing page would score more points than an intern who came to your site from Pinterest and looked at videos on the “what it’s like to work here” page. High-scoring prospects could receive a targeted series of emails – or a perhaps a call from sales.

5. Calculate the ROI of your social media campaigns

Figuring out the ROI of social media campaigns doesn’t have to be difficult. First, look at three stages of the customer lifecycle – attracting visitors, converting visitors into leads, and turning leads into customers. From there, you can start tracking your conversions at each stage of the lifecycle. During the first stage, you can track website referrals and clickthrough rates. After that, you can track page conversion rates and form submissions. Finally, you can track how many of those leads converted to sales.

6. Combine all the ingredients to create an integrated program

Your Facebook page, Twitter account, and any other social media presence can never be effective on its own. But taken together and combined with marketing automation, they can give you the power to launch an integrated, cohesive program.

Read the eBook to gain an in-depth understanding of the ways marketing automation and social media come together, and find out how to drive more leads, convert them to customers, and get gangbuster results for your business.