There is no doubting the power of social media.
The question is, can you harness it?
Every day, more than 3 billion people engage in various social media networks.
They are constantly posting and sharing content; searching for information, and expanding their network. Social media presents a gigantic sea of opportunity if you know how to prospect within the community.
How To Prospect On Social Media
Whether you are a new participant in social media or have been “languishing” in it for years without much success, we have listed 4 effective ways on how you can prospect on social media and achieve great results.
Just Because Social Media Is Free Doesn’t Mean You Should
Many businesses are enticed to get into social media because it does not cost a cent to open an account. All you need is an email address to set up your social media page. Once your account is active, you can start actively posting and sharing content or engage with others in your community.
Can you get results with a free social media account? Yes. Activity is the key. When you go social, you have to stay top-of-mind. This means frequently publishing content on your page or interacting with your network.
However, the paid version includes features that could take your social media prospecting activity to the next level.
A good example is LinkedIn which is the number one choice of businessmen, entrepreneurs, job-seekers, recruiters, and executives for prospecting. Infogroup, a business data and marketing solutions company, identified LinkedIn as the best source for sales prospecting and social networking.
LinkedIn’s paid service is called LinkedIn Premium. It consists of 4 different kinds of services:
- Job Seeker; for those looking to get hired – $31/month
- Business Plus; for those who want to expand their network – $61/month
- Sales Navigator; for those who want to find customers for their products or services – $90/month
- Recruiter Lite; for those looking for talent – $120/month
When you avail of a LinkedIn Premium subscription, you will be given an InMail which will allow you to directly message prospects without requiring a common contact or referral.
LinkedIn Premium also has a feature called “Advanced Search”. This feature will allow you to find common points of contact with a target company.
For example, you can search for former acquaintances or college friends who currently or previously worked for the company you are eyeing. You can reach out to this person and ask for a referral or get more valuable information about the company.
LinkedIn Premium may put a small dent in your monthly budget but it will certainly make prospecting in this highly-effective network much easier.
Target The Decision-Makers
The “Ancient” art of cold calling remains a favourite prospecting technique of salespeople. This is because it provides a high-touch point approach. If successful, you can directly address your proposal to the main decision-maker of the company.
However, your success will depend on one thing: If you can get past the dreaded gatekeeper.
Gatekeepers are usually the secretary or the receptionist. One of their primary functions is to make sure the boss stays productive throughout the entire day. Unless the call is expected or important, you may find yourself given the run-around every time.
Prospecting on social media is a proven way of getting past the gatekeeper. Like in our previous example, a LinkedIn Premium account will give you direct access to the decision-maker via InMail.
By pitching your proposal directly to the decision-maker, you remove unnecessary filters that could render your proposal ineffective.
A good approach would be to start out with a friendly introductory message which includes a short summary of your strongest selling points. The idea is to pique his/her interest enough to approve the request for connection and the possibility of a high-touch point meeting.
If you cannot find the main decision-makers, try to connect with members of the company’s top management team. They may not be able to firm up the company’s decision but they can cascade your proposal directly to the person who can.
Research Your Prospects
Banks call it “KYC” or Know Your Customer. Retailers create Buyers’ Personas. The purpose is to learn as much as you can about your client or customer so you can fine-tune your approach in securing business from them.
When it comes to prospecting on social media, you should conduct research on your target prospects.
The saying, “Knowledge is power” applies in business. The more you know about your prospect the greater the chances of securing the connection. Here are some ways you can conduct research on a target company:
- Follow their social media pages; find out what they are currently doing. Do they have new developments? How are they planning to position the company in the industry? Are there new officers in the company?
- Visit their website; learn more about the company and its founders. What are their core values? What do their clients think about the company? Who are the main decision-makers? Does the website have a blog page? If so, what types of content does the company publish?
- Run a quick Google search; Are there bits of negative news about the company on the Internet? Is the company mentioned several times in the news?
Find out if the company is planning to conduct a seminar, trade show, networking event, or conference. Take the time to attend. Immerse yourself in who the target prospect is. By learning as much as you can about your prospect, you will be able to fine-tune your approach.
Create And Publish Great Content
Why not reverse-engineer the prospecting process in social media and let the prospect find you? You can do this by simply creating and publishing great content on a consistent basis.
Blogging is the cornerstone of the content marketing process. The statistics are overwhelmingly in favour of blogging. People are always on the lookout for great content; even your targeted prospects.
However what makes content great? According to Google’s search algorithm, content should be:
It should also contain the right keywords. These are the words or phrases that people frequently use to run a search query.
Before writing content, conduct keyword research. You can use Google Keyword Planner to help you find the most-searched keywords in your industry. Include these keywords in your content. The number of keywords should not exceed 2% of your total word count.
Having keywords in your content will make it more searchable and easier found on the Internet. Properly researched content will enhance your reputation as an expert and hopefully, encourage your target prospects to connect with you.
These networks are more than just “social”. The keyword in social media network is “network”. You have to reach out and establish connections that can open up opportunities in the industry. Likewise, they are rich sources of potential clients, contacts, and associates that could help you grow your business.
In fact, prospecting is one of the main reasons businesses get into social media. They recognize the value it has in building a network of valuable connections.
The problem is, they don’t know where to start. For businesses that have been prospecting in social media for quite some time, they realize their efforts yield very little result if any at all.
They get frustrated and despondent over their lack of success. Eventually, they arrive at the conclusion that prospecting on social media is a waste of time because it did not generate ROI.
Statistically, nothing could be further from the truth. Prospecting on social media is a proven medium for generating sales.
A study presented by the Aberdeen Group in 2014 showed that 64% of sales teams that invested in social media prospecting hit their quotas. In contrast, only 49% of sales teams that did not invest in social media prospecting hit their quotas.
In 2016, a LinkedIn report on the state of the sales industry revealed that 90% of the best salespeople include social media prospecting as part of their business development strategy.
Thus, prospecting on social media is time well- spent. It will help you establish connections with people who can take your business to the next level.
Social media will provide the platform for you to market your expertise; business products and services so you can find clients or customers. Actively networking on social media may open up associations with people who can refer you to other businesses that may need your particular skills or offerings.