Social Media, Lead Generation and Salesforce.com

While salesforce.com cares about building its brand, it looks at social media in a bottom-line way: How can they use it to generate leads? In this blog post, Jamie Grenney shares 10 tips for implementing social media campaigns.

Salesforce.com presents an interesting case study in the use of social media. While the big buzz in social media continues to center around brand-building, salesforce.com thinks about social media in a more bottom-line way – how does it complement other marketing channels to generate customer leads?

Jamie Grenney Salesforce
I chatted with Jamie Grenney, Senior Director of Social Media, at salesforce.com.

Alpa: How do you think about social media?

Jamie: Social media is a growing part of our corporate marketing plan. The technologies help us create a conversation between the brand, customers & prospective customers. Our customers are our biggest evangelists, and we try to use our social media channels to help them share their stories and successes.

Alpa: Which social media channels do you use?

Jamie: We’re focused on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Slideshare, LinkedIn, and Flickr. Our own online community on our website continues to be key for us, and is excellent in terms of audience engagement and quality. We also monitor and enter into discussions on third-party blogs and forums that our users and potential customers are visiting.

Alpa: How do you use social media? How does it fit into your overall marketing plan?

Jamie: Lead generation is critical to our business. For this, salesforce.com offers a form for prospective customers to fill out, so a sales associate can contact them. We are now experimenting with lead generation through social media sites. For example, salesforce.com’s fans on Facebook converse amongst themselves, sharing how they’ve integrated our technologies into their businesses, in turn serving as word-of-mouth lead generators. Through our fan page, we help connect our audience members with each other. Secondly, people can fill out contact forms on our web site to learn more by using their Facebook login credentials. This reduces the friction of signing up, making it easier for prospective customers to learn more about our offerings, without the hurdle of acquiring yet another username & password. We have recently changed how we direct prospective customers to our web site. For example, more and more, we direct prospects to our Facebook pages, where they can engage in conversations with other prospects and customers.

Alpa: How does social media fit into your integrated marketing plan?

Jamie: Email continues to serve as a critical marketing vehicle. And our forums on salesforce.com continue to be robust & useful. So, while we have a presence on every social media channel, our own web site and email distribution list continue to be important and effective.

Alpa: What social media channels are the most effective?

Jamie: YouTube has been a great medium for us. We’ve moved all of our video from our own web site to YouTube, so it is consolidated in one location, giving us higher SEO value & making it easier for our audience to view and share. The video sharing functionality gives us viral benefits, and makes it easy for people to find and share our videos with each other.

Here are Jamie’s top 10 tips for setting your social media strategy:

  1. Start by listening. For example, do a 7-day Twitter audit and see what people are saying about your brand. Bucket the conversations, get a feel for volume, and see what conversations are actionable.

  2. Understand your audience. What motivates them to participate? What do they want to talk about?

  3. Identify the opportunity. Is there an existing process you want to re-engineer? Or maybe an existing behavior you want to encourage? The key is to tap into pent up demand and find something that is mutually beneficial.

  4. Focus on ideas with impact. This will help you get resources you need to be able to deliver high-visibility wins and ideally measurable ROI. It may take time to get there, but you should have a vision of how the initiative maps to important business objectives.

  5. Understand your channels. There are three pillars to social media: Conversations on your site (blogs, Answers, Ideas), your official channels (YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn), and other conversations on the web (Twitter, 3rd party blogs, 3rd party forums). Which of these channels do you want to support?

  6. You can start small, but don’t start weak. You might start by supporting just one channel, but don’t make the mistake of starting weak. Initial momentum is very important to the success of your initiative.

  7. Join the conversation. Your goal is to facilitate a conversation between the brand, your customers, and their networks. Make sure you are a good host, engaging people in conversation and making your presence felt.

  8. Recognize top contributors. Build direct relationships with the top contributors within your community and people you see as influential. These individuals are critical to your success.

  9. Map social media to your business. To get broad participation and maintain momentum, it’s important to map your social media initiative to your existing processes. Start thinking about how you can integrate social media into your CRM application and measure results on the same dashboards that you use for your other marketing metrics. For instance, by integrating your social media channels with Service Cloud, salesforce.com’s customer service offering, you can use social media to listen and respond quickly to customer conversations.

  10. Focus on customer success. To build and mobilize evangelists, there is nothing more important than focusing on their success. Build a great product, a great user experience, and take their feedback to heart.

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