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How to Generate Leads on Social Media by Simply Listening to Your Audience

Social listening / Media monitoring
If you want to grow your business, you’ve got to be willing to lend an ear. Image by Ky Olsen via Flickr.

If you want to grow your business, you need to keep an ear to the ground and listen closely to your audience.

One of the most effective ways of doing this is through social listening: paying attention to the conversations people are having on social media about your brand, competitors, industry terms and pain points.

Whether they’re talking to you or about you, monitoring your prospects’ conversations on social media has endless advantages. It can help you manage your online reputation, build a community and complement your customer support efforts.

But what many people don’t realize is that when implemented effectively, social listening can help you generate leads – and more revenue.

With the right tools and tactics, you can discover conversations around your brand and related industry terms. If you’re strategic and community-minded, these conversations will bring you new leads, stronger relationships and more conversions.

Ready to get started?

Here are four specific ways you can generate leads by listening to your audience on social channels.

1. Talk to the people talking about you

At the very minimum, you should be monitoring your brand name to know when people are talking about you.

Though this sounds pretty obvious, many companies ignore this simple tactic.

And by missing these conversations, they miss opportunities to answer critical questions, build new relationships, recruit new brand advocates, convert leads and upsell current customers.

In the example below, Bruce was doing his due diligence, testing a number of different media monitoring tools, including ours.

He wanted to know if we offered a feature that our competitors did not. Instead of emailing us, he turned to Twitter:

social-listening-mention-tweet-cropped
Bruce has gone on to become one of our most engaged followers and content sharers. Click for full conversation.

Answering all of Bruce’s questions in a timely manner helped him continue his research – and he has since become a customer and one of our most engaged followers and content sharers.

As an added benefit, learning what terms people use in association with your brand name is an effective way to discover what problem or need you are solving for them – in their own words.

It’s also a great way to craft messaging for marketing campaigns that resonate with your target audience.

Bonus tip:
Keep in mind that social listening is important regardless of whether or not prospects are talking directly to you (i.e. using your Twitter handle).

When we analyzed nearly 36,000 Twitter mentions delivered to more than 23,000 companies, we found that 31% of tweets containing company names do not include their handle.

How to respond

  • Answer questions quickly to shorten the amount of time between the first touchpoint and the conversion.
  • Point to internal and external resources that will best educate your potential customer about the solution to their problem.
  • Make note of questions so you can improve campaigns and marketing materials moving forward.
  • Ask for offline conversations to humanize yourself and give your potential customer an opportunity to uncover how you can help them.
  • Follow up on any questions asked to ensure that you have answered them and that your potential customer is well on their way to making a decision.

2. Monitor conversations about competitors

By monitoring competitor names, you’ll gain intelligence on what people like (and don’t like) about their offering, allowing you to adapt your offer accordingly.

Further, looking at competitor mentions is an opportunity to educate yourself about the competitive landscape to determine what differentiates your brand.

These findings will help you discover what you should emphasize in your messaging to further drive leads and sales.

Monitoring your competitors can have other unforeseen advantages, as one company found out. Close.io, a sales communication platform, recently closed $585 in monthly recurring revenue from one tweet.

One of their competitors, RelateIQ, was acquired by Salesforce, which led to RelateIQ cancelling a lot of contracts with their international customers.

Close.io recognized this as an opportunity and monitored tweets mentioning the RelateIQ restrictions. For example, their lead engineer found and responded to this tweet by Pablo:

social-listening-competitors

Even Pablo recognized the benefit of Close.io’s social listening:

social-listening-closeio1
social-listening-closeio2

How to monitor competitors

To monitor these conversations, set up alerts in your chosen social media monitoring tool to catch all mentions across the web and social.

For starters, it’s helpful to monitor “[competitor name] + alternative,” which will produce mentions from people looking for the solution you offer.

Better yet, get super specific. See how Aircall, an internet phone system solution, set their alerts up using Mention (full disclosure: I work for this company!):

social-listening-media-monitoring-tool

If you’re not using a media monitoring tool, you can save an Advanced Search in Twitter, and even filter by sentiment or whether the tweet is a question:

social-listening-twitter-advanced-search
Scroll to the bottom of the Advanced Search form on Twitter to check a sentiment or question box.

How to respond

  • No matter your method, be tactful. Give your competitors time to respond to complaints and issues – you don’t want to appear spammy or desperate.
  • Add value to increase the likelihood that your potential leads will engage with you. Explain how you can help beyond suggesting that the person sign up for your product or service.
  • Keep communications light and conversational. If you talk to potential customers as you’d talk to a friend, they’ll find you more relatable and will be more willing to have a conversation with you.
  • Remember that these relationships take time to build. Be patient and start simple. By building a valuable (and unconditional) relationship upfront, you’re more likely to recruit a loyal and lasting customer.

3. Monitor customers’ pain points

Another approach to generating leads with social listening is to monitor industry terms or phrases that represent a pain point or problem you’re looking to solve.

Breaz.io, a marketplace that connects web developers with the best opportunities in tech companies across Europe, tried their hand at this approach.

The result?

By monitoring the problem their potential customers are looking to solve (recruiting tech professionals), Breaz increased their lead response rate by 5x.

social-listening-recruiting
In this example, Eduard from Breaz responds to a gentleman looking to recruit a Java developer.

Front, a collaborative email client, recruited their first beta users with this approach as well.

They created a list of keywords they thought people would use to talk/complain/ask about email clients on Twitter (i.e. tweets containing: “recommend + email + client”).

After these keywords generated relevant tweets, they began reaching out. The result was an average of 15 new qualified beta subscribers per week.

Other valuable “side effects” of this approach for Front included:

  • Identifying influencers in their industry
  • Detecting blogs and websites talking about their industry
  • Discovering which articles resonated with their targeted users

And all of these “side effects” were achieved in only 45 minutes per day.

Selecting terms to monitor with Google Trends

When selecting which key terms for monitoring your customers’ pain points, give Google Trends a try.

With Google Trends, internet phone solution Aircall recognized that old industry terms relating to VOIP phone systems were phasing out:

social-listening-google-trends
With Google Trends, Aircall saw a decline in searches for the older industry terms “voip phone” and “pbx.”

Equipped with this information, they did a little keyword research and ended up tapping into an entirely different market: companies hiring employees across a variety of countries.

These companies needed a solution for communicating internationally, and may not have thought about an online phone system.

How to respond

  • Use Google Trends, Ubersuggest, or a tool like Moz’s Keyword Analysis to identify keywords that potential customers are searching for. Monitor these keywords to identify and join relevant conversations.
  • After qualifying a person as a potential lead, be helpful, empathetic and not overly sales-y. Remember, it’s about building relationships first and closing second.
  • If potential customers are talking about their problems, focus on the person, not your product or service.

4. Identify other opportunities for relationship building

Sometimes the most valuable relationships can be built by simply being plugged into trends and relevant conversations in your industry.

Twitter chats, for example, are a great place to meet people whose interests pertain to the problem your product or service solves.

Sure, you’re not going to make a hard sale or ask someone if they want a demo when participating in these events, but you are going to make valuable connections.

For anything marketing related, I highly suggest checking out #bufferchat, #insiderchat and #semrushchat.

As a bonus, there’s usually a question in these chats asking for helpful tools and services. As long as you include others, it’s perfectly fine to namedrop your own brand.

At Mention, we’re lucky enough to sometimes get mentioned in various Twitter chats (even ones we’ve never heard of). When people suggesting us as a tool, it usually leads to at least a few new people signing up.

social-listening-twitter-chat-cropped
Someone mentioned our service in this Twitter chat. Click for full conversation.

After joining in a few times and being a valuable contributor, you may even be asked to become a guest, which is a great way to build thought leadership and – you guessed it – generate leads.

How to join the conversation:

  • Introduce yourself and respond to fellow chat participants.
  • Answer all questions honestly and transparently.
  • Don’t sell yourself. The valuable information you’re sharing will do that for you.
  • Follow up with the people you meet during these chats and ask how you can help them reach their goals. If they’re a qualified lead, continue the conversation and build the relationship, which will organically lead to a new, happy customer. :)

Listening benefits everyone

Social listening allows you to identify the conversations your audience is having so you can learn more about their problems and goals.

It gives you the opportunity to provide them with better support.

Best of all, it provides a shortcut to a wealth of people who have the issue your product or service solves. Make the most out of it!

By incorporating social listening into your social media marketing strategy, you can streamline your messaging and get everyone on the team helping with lead gen – community, content, support and beyond.

Over to you. How does social listening feed into your lead gen strategy?

— Shannon Byrne

Listen to Shannon on the Call to Action podcast:

Social listening / Media monitoring

About Shannon Byrne
Shannon Byrne is the Content & PR Manager for Mention where she crafts words, creates strategies, and recruits loyal brand advocates. She's based in New York. Say hi @ShannnonB.
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  • useful marketing tips

    • Shannon Byrne

      Thank you, Rivas! :)

  • Joe

    Wonderful article with great insight. We’re already doing a few of these social listening tactics, but you’ve definitely opened our eyes to leverage even more social opportunity!
    Thanks so much! Cheers.
    -Joe

    • Shannon Byrne

      Awesome, would love to hear any successes you see, Joe!

  • Thank you very much for this article.

    Now when Facebook and Twitter have alerts for brand mentions, what is the advantage of Mention?

    • Shannon Byrne

      Thanks for your comment, Dasha! Well, Mention monitors more than just the social web, but also forums, news sites, blogs, etc. We also catch mentions from any public Instagram and Pinterest posts. And I’m pretty sure Facebook Mentions is only open to celebrities and verified accounts, correct? Let me know if you have any questions!

  • Good stuff!

    Another thing that worked well for me was checking who was following me, and if I had something relevant to say based on the profile/website of the follower, I would ask a simple question.

    This would sometimes (not always, but quite a few times to make it worthwhile) create a conversation where I would learn more about my prospect (oops, follower) situation –> a social lead was created.

    Some other times it’s about reaching out on Twitter from another medium (for example, inbound.org) with a targeted relevant question based on a comment they made for example.

    This would also get the ball rolling and create new connections.

    • Shannon Byrne

      Awesome additions, Tommy! I really like the genuine and conversational approach you take. This is a great way to build those valuable relationships!

  • PS

    Very interesting read! Definitely food for thought for anyone in or wanting to be in the social media glare.

  • Alana Chávez

    Amazing post, super useful and insightful.

    Many thanks!!!

    • Thank you Alana! Would be great to hear any successes you see with these tactics!

  • Macushla Collins

    Shannon – I love the concept of social listening you’ve highlighted here. It’s a cliche, but business is about relationships and a BIG part of that is actively listening, just as we would in any other relationship. So often we’re talking about ourselves (‘that’s enough about me; what do you think of me?’). I will definitely be integrating some of your tips and tricks.

    • Yes, whenever sitting down to write something, it’s always good to ask “how would I want to be talked to?” then more importantly “how has our audience said they want to be talked to?” Great points, Macushla!

  • Hey Shannon!
    Great insight… Very helpful information to improve the online marketing game. I am very excited to follow your advice, making user-centrality my agenda.

    • Let me know how it goes, James. Thanks for the comment!

  • I think the best strategy is to monitor the conversation concerning your competitors. When you see people giving your competitors more time in their conversation, just note all the good things that make them do so and try and improve on your shortcomings.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Awesome add, Walter. There’s actually a couple of posts on this on our blog. Would be happy to send your way if interested. :)

  • Dawneen

    Thanks, Shannon, for the great insights into the value of – and need for – social listening to build positive relationships and drive engagement!

    • Shannon Byrne

      Thanks for the comment, Dawneen!

  • Jeremy Howat

    Great post, it got me thinking. I would like to ask, since you are saying that we shouldn’t work alone, what is the best way to get stuff like call handling and website upkeed done, without hiring full time employees (its a 2-3 hour work per day)?

    • Hi Jeremy,

      Thanks for the comment. I’m not sure that I understand your question though. Can you elaborate? Thanks!

      Shannon

      • Jeremy Howat

        I guess I am asking what are the best ways to get stuff done, is it freelance or outsourcing. I am sorry, this is an inappropriate question to ask, when the topic is different. Sorry for bothering you.

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