“Leads today are the stream of consciousness of everyone with two thumbs, a keyboard or Siri, expressing themselves on this great new communication channel we call social.” — Jim Keenan

Social Media have the responsibility of building brand awareness, generating buzz and providing customer service. Increasingly, however, social media is being used for lead generation.

A lead is considered someone in your target demographic and in your target market, who has expressed a need and is open to learning more about the solutions you have to offer.

But why wait for someone to express a need? Why wait for someone to mention you? Why even wait for someone to know who you are?

Social Media Lead Generation

As a discovery method though, it’s reactive. If you really want to reach new people, you’d be better served to find and target those who tweet about topics and keywords relevant to your brand, follow similar and complementary accounts compared to your company and/or have related interests listed in their bio. In short, just because someone is not explicitly mentioning your brand name, doesn’t mean he or she is not interested in what you have to say. Stream searching for mentions of your brand and your competitors is a great way to jump into existing conversations. For example, you may create streams for #needcoffee, @Atlantacoffeehouse, and #atlcoffee. This tactic will help you catch satisfied or unhappy customers and even Atlanta coffee addicts so you can respond with helpful, relevant advice and provide customer support, and yes, result in generated leads.

Now that you have found the right people, engage with them. Send them relevant pieces of content that are educational, entertaining, inspiring and enlightening. Note which word was missing from that list (Hint: promotional.) Optimize your site so when they are searching, information is findable. Develop contests and sweepstakes exclusively for followers that attract and convert non-followers. Retweet posts and comment on statuses.

Once they are responding positively, you can begin your sales pitch.

However, if you are having difficulty, getting them to warm up, check out this guide to social media lead nurturing.