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September 24, 2013 // 3:30 PM

Got 5 Minutes? Use It to Find a New Prospect on Social Media

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social-media-prospectsDo you remember the children’s book Where’s Waldo? C'mon, you know -- the one where each page is filled with a busy scene full of people but you’re always looking for the same, brown-haired, red-striped-sweater guy? Well, social prospecting is a lot like Where’s Waldo?. No, seriously.

Let me explain.

It’s 2013, and now, more than ever, the pressure on businesses to determine the exact value of social media marketing is high. Depending on who’s asking, engagement can be subjective. Without the right tools, measurement can be murky.

Even so, from the top down, everyone wants to know what the ROI of social media is -- and more specifically, how many prospects and eventual customers your social media team generates with the time they spend engaging on various channels. 

Finding Leads Quickly Can Be Done

As a social media manager, it’s your job to figure out how to find who those prospects are and get them to your sales team -- and fast. You know they’re out there, but it’s not always easy to find them.

Social media can be quite noisy, and sometimes, prospective customers can be buried in a sea of look-alikes. But never fear: With a little effort, the right keywords, and some strategizing, they’ll pop up faster than Waldo at the beach.

Here are some tips for finding prospects on your favorite social media sites quickly, and some insight as to how I search for leads on each site listed below.

Twitter

Twitter is a certified gold mine for prospecting, ready for you to shake your pan and let the leads fall out, as noted by Gary Vaynerchuk in his recent LinkedIn article, “13 Tweets a Real Estate Agent Should Have Answered, Not Me.

Vaynerchuk indicated how easy it is to use Twitter's search function to attach industry-specific keywords to Twitter users who may be interested in what you’re offering.

As he notes, it doesn’t matter what you do for business or what industry you are in -- anyone can use the search function and see quality results.

You can even take your Twitter-mining one step further with HubSpot’s Social Inbox. As Vaynerchuk mentioned, social media prospecting is about creating context with people so that your social interactions might eventually lead to a sale.

Social Inbox helps you track who is who in your Twitter list and searches by showing your contacts database of leads, opportunities, and customers, and merging it with your social media activity. Utilizing this tool means moving the most enticing prospects on Twitter bubble right up to the top.

How I Locate Leads on Twitter

1) In terms of finding the right leads for HubSpot, the first thing I do is write down my top 3 or 4 keywords I care about.

2) Then, I head on over to Twitter search and plug those keywords in, a few different times in a few different variations, to see who is talking about our keywords and, based on their profile, if they are potentially a good fit as a prospect.

3) If they are an ideal lead, I can strike up a conversation with them and either offer content they may be interested in or myself as a resource for any information on those keywords.

(HubSpot customers: For this task, Social Inbox can save you loads of time and give you the information you're looking for immediately.)  

Facebook

Even though Facebook may seem pretty consumer-focused on the surface, HubSpot found that 52% of all marketers sourced a lead from Facebook in 2013. This is great, but it also tells me there are marketers out there who aren’t part of the 52% -- and should be.

For marketers unsure of how to engage businesses via Facebook, just know it can be easy to identify the right prospects -- thanks to Facebook’s new(ish) search functionality, Graph Search.

If you're not familiar with Graph Search, here’s a quick overview of how it works. What’s unique about Graph Search is that gives you search results based on very specific long-tail search queries. A good example: “Marketers in Boston looking for inbound marketing software.”

See where I’m going with this? Because Graph Search pulls information from Facebook users’ profiles, it’s a premier way to discover prospects who don’t already live in your news feed.

How I Locate Leads on Facebook

1) I can update the keywords used on Twitter search earlier to become long-tail search queries, like “marketers looking for inbound marketing software” or "marketers looking for marketing analytics software" and type them into Graph Search on Facebook.

2) Using my first query, I actually find about 10 Pages that are relevant, 2 people in my network talking about my search terms, and other possibly useful information from the site's other features: Events, Apps, Places, and Groups.

3) Now, I have countless ways I can follow up on this search: I can message a person, Like a Page to keep tabs on it, and much more.

Pinterest

This year, 9% of marketers found a customer from Pinterest, according to our annual inbound marketing digest. Don’t let that small percentage fool you, though.

In its Digital Marketer Benchmark and Trend Report, Experian said Pinterest is now the 3rd-most popular social networking site behind Facebook and Twitter. One feature that Pinterest has in common with Twitter (and Facebook now, too) that can help you find and sort prospects is hashtags.

When Twitter took off, hashtags also bloomed as a thread to connect the millions of posts from around the world into groups and categories. Today, hashtags on visual Pins are like clues into the mind of the Pinterest user due to the visual nature the post.

For regular users, hashtags are a way to connect with other Pinterest users on their favorite topics. For you, they make it easy to pull out pins that users have deemed related to the keywords you use in your marketing.

How I Locate Leads on Pinterest

1) For Pinterest, I went back to my keywords that I used for Twitter, added a hashtag, and used Pinterest's search functionality to see what I could find (Note: Don't forget you have to log in!).

2) The hashtag "#inboundmarketing" gave me countless search results, so after a quick glance, I paired it with "#analytics" and "#strategy" (two other hashtags that popped out a lot).

3) Once this pairing is done, I can drill down on about 30 Pins that could very well lead me to the prospects I'm looking for.

LinkedIn

Based on our State of Inbound Marketing report, we know that 43% of marketers generated a customer from LinkedIn in 2013. But being the social-media savvy marketer that you are, you know that LinkedIn is the most business-friendly social media channel and that its users are a bit more wary about strangers connecting with them than meets the eye -- that is, unless, you’ve got the secret ingredient for finding leads and prospects on LinkedIn: Groups.

Did you know that 53% of LinkedIn users join 10 or more groups? It’s a top-10 favorite feature of LinkedIn users. It’s also the best place to insert yourself into relevant conversations and provide useful advice, tips, and content to get you noticed and attract potential prospects to you and your business.

What's even better is that searching for these Groups is beyond simple.

How I Locate Leads on LinkedIn

1) Knowing I had my keywords set, I immediately signed into LinkedIn and to the left of my top search bar, I selected “Groups” from the drop-down icon menu, which will search all LinkedIn Groups. "Inbound marketing" alone gave me almost 300 groups.

2) Now, I can whittle down my results as I please. I can look in Groups that have my Connections in them or are members-only, or even sort Groups by Language. Since LinkedIn is where business professionals go to network, I know there are some prospects in these Groups waiting to be found.

Like I said before, social prospecting is a lot like Where's Waldo?. Your prospects (in other words, Waldo) are out there, in the noisy, busy world that is social media. But don't be afraid to roll up your sleeves and dig through the noise with the tips above.

Do you have any other tips for social media managers who want to jump into social prospecting? Let us know in the comments!

Image credit: Jason Howie

  free social prospecting workbook

Topics: Social Media

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