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Marketing Ten ways small businesses can use social media to generate leads

The key is being able to identify the most relevant leads, and reach out to them in the right way to drive your business forward.

According to research conducted by LinkedIn, 94 per cent of small businesses who use social media use it for marketing, and three out of five small- to medium-sized businesses say they've gained new customers by using social media. With over 1.39-billion active users on Facebook alone, your SMB is bound to have prospective customers on one of the many social spaces.

The key is being able to identify the most relevant leads, and reach out to them in the right way to drive your business forward.

1. Be hyper-targeted. As a small business with a smaller customer base you have the ability to be incredibly focused with outreach efforts and home in with precision on potential new customers. There's a wealth of user information on social media – take the time to find the most relevant people who are the right fit for your product or service, and your ROI will increase exponentially.

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2. Use analytics. Social media analytics tools can be useful in two ways: firstly, they can help you identify more target customers by showing you who is posting content or hashtags that are relevant to your business. Secondly, good analytics are key in providing feedback about what content audiences respond well to, allowing you to refine your strategy to maximize your impact.

3. Use influencers. We all know influencers cost money, and as an SMB you may not have much of that to put into social media marketing. Nevertheless, in certain industries – like parenting, fashion, or food – it can be incredibly impactful to have an influencer push your product. Just make sure you honestly evaluate your product and target market to see if an influencer is the right fit – if not, there are plenty of other options.

4. Develop brand ambassadors. Your business has existing fans that are active on social networks, and some of them are likely posting positively about your company. If those individuals are properly engaged, you'll be able to use their content to your own advantage. Strengthening positive objective voices on your product or service is a great way of driving interest and trust on social media.

5. Personalize communication. Today's consumer has less patience for spam and mass market messaging than ever before. As an SMB you can afford to reach out to a large portion of your customers on an individual level. Interacting with them using tailored or personalized messaging will not only be effective at driving specific goals, but will help you build and strengthen brand loyalty.

6. Content is king. The direction, length, and type of content you should post will depend heavily on which social media platform you're planning it for, and what your business goals are. Make sure your content fits those goals perfectly. For example, if you'd like to increase online sales, then giving potential customers deals is key. If you'd like to boost traffic to your website, try posting engaging content that users can only see more fully on your external site.

7. Measure effectively. Using the right metrics is key to reaching the goals you've set yourself, as well as to proving ROI. How will you measure lead generation success? Will it be an increase in followers, sales, or traffic to your site from social media? Once you know the metric you'll use, you'll know exactly how you've measured up.

8. Provide value on social media. Social media isn't just another online billboard. Whether it be a promotional offer, or providing helpful or interesting content on a relevant topic, giving your social audience something that they can use, benefit from or really enjoy will make for more engaged and loyal followers.

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9. Be active. Being present on social media isn't the same as being active. Make sure you're not just updating your own page, but participating in discussions and following the updates of your own followers to see where you might be able to provide personalized value.

10. Choose the right social platform. Generating new leads on every social platform is a daunting task for any company – let alone an SMB. Instead, identify where your customers, and target demographics are most active, and make sure you are there too.

Dovev Goldstein is a serial entrepreneur who founded two new media companies before taking the helm as CEO of Moment.me. He also has years of experience teaching an entrepreneurship class at a leading national university, giving him an awareness of the critical things companies need to take account of in order to succeed.

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