How Sales Teams Can Use Social Intent Data to Reel in the Perfect Lead

This post was originally published on the Hubspot Sales blog.

#Instagood. #DebateNight. #tbt.

#ICYMI, social media rules. With an increasing number of hashtags, trending topics, and shares, the social sea is flush with leads. But while all of that data can be incredibly useful, the crowded waters have made it difficult for business leaders to tell a minnow from a marlin.

When casting a net for legitimate sales leads, social media data is indicative of a lead’s interest level or readiness to consider a category of products. This information can help you figure out which fish to keep and which to throw back into the water.

When people conduct research, ask questions, or gather information to solve a business problem, their social data offers real-time signals that they’re about to enter the buying cycle. Routine social media actions such as follows, likes, or mentions are all readily available data. The trick is tapping into these social signals and scoring these leads appropriately based on their activity.

Related Content: See how 500 B2B Marketers are using social engagement data to acquire new leads. 

Keeping Score of Social Media Data

When someone is interested in your brand, he generally follows an established pattern: He follows you, clicks on one or two posts, and shares some of your content. He might even comment on a few of your posts or download a piece of content.

My company, Socedo, uses a two-tiered lead scoring model. We start by considering fit: Does this lead have the characteristics of someone we want to do business with? What’s the size of his company? What’s his job title? Does he have responsibility for social media or demand generation? What’s his industry?

We then look at technographics. The technology the lead already uses can tell us a lot about his sophistication level. If the person already uses a marketing automation system or a customer relationship management system, we consider him a great lead.

Once a lead passes our “fit” test, we score based on behaviour or engagement with our content and key channels. We consider the lead’s direct interaction with us and within our social sphere. Did the lead mention an event we’re sponsoring or a hot topic that’s relevant to us? Did the lead mention an influencer we’ve worked with to create a webinar?

Our marketing automation system is set up to “listen” for these events and update lead scores whenever someone engages with our social media channels, website, or emails. We assign a numerical threshold to determine when a lead has enough points to be passed off to our sales team.

How Your Sales Team Can Use Social Media Data

Once we pass leads to sales, we monitor two key metrics to determine whether our scoring model works:

  1. Conversion rate: Measures lead movement from stage to stage and shows how Marketing is performing throughout the sales cycle
  2. Velocity: Tracks the number of days it takes a lead to move through the funnel

We use these metrics to refine and optimize our approach over time. For example, if we notice that leads who engage with Socedo’s corporate handle on social media are converting into customers at a high rate but social media engagements have low lead scores, we might give more weight to social media engagements relative to other interactions.

Social data can be powerful in the hands of your sales team. If you know someone tweeted about an event using a specific hashtag, for example, one of your sales reps can personalize outreach to that prospect by mentioning a keynote speaker or a session from that event. Similarly, if you’ve added the URL of each prospect’s relevant social media profiles as a field in your CRM system, individual sales reps can use details from those profiles — the prospect’s role and responsibilities in the company and her unique challenges, for instance — to inform sales conversations. Additionally, the rep can ensure she’s on the prospect’s radar by connecting with her on LinkedIn or following her on Twitter.

With the following tips, your organization can likewise incorporate the wealth of useful social data into your lead scoring model.

1) Integrate your social media management platform with your marketing automation system.

This integration will allow you to attribute leads coming from social media. Doing so will give you custom fields to store information about your leads in your marketing automation system. You’ll have data on which campaigns the lead clicked, which social network she came from, and which URL she clicked, among other details.

You can score leads based on any of these new data fields. For example, you can increase the lead score by three points for anyone who clicked on a link in one of your social media posts. Depending on where your target audience does research, you can even give different scores to leads coming from various social networks.

2) Use a social demand generation system to discover and engage new leads automatically.

This type of system allows you to use social media keywords, handles, and hashtags to identify and engage with warm prospects on Twitter. It also enables you to incorporate their contact information and relevant social activity data into your marketing automation system. You can score prospects based on their interactions on social media with certain topics, events, influencers, and brands. For instance, someone who follows you on Twitter might get two points, while someone who clicks on a link or replies to your direct message might receive 10 points.

It’s important to put your own social data into the context of the broader social conversation. People often attempt to learn about solutions to their problems and consume content on social media, conversing with their peers before eventually hearing about various options. By listening to the broader social chatter in your space rather than solely looking at interactions with your own page, you can discover prospects early in the buying cycle and offer them relevant content.

3) Score people who share your content.

Add social sharing buttons to your landing pages or blog posts so that anyone — general site visitors or converted users — can easily share them on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Then, score those shares. If someone shares your landing page on Twitter, for example, his lead score might increase by five points.

4) Use technology to update your lead records with real-time social activity.

Microsoft has a social selling team that qualifies leads on social media. It uses a lead acceleration product to get real-time social insights on the leads in its database. With this data, Microsoft is able to understand which of its existing leads are actively engaging or have previously engaged with its Twitter handles, as well as what they’re saying. This helps its social selling team identify which leads to reaching out proactively on social.

You can track and increase the score of any leads who interact with your corporate Twitter handle, your competitors’ Twitter handles, or hashtags from industry events. Based on those real-time social engagements, you can send leads automated emails that acknowledge their social media activity and suggest relevant content. Then, if someone clicks on a link in that email, you can increase her lead score further.

5) Embrace inferred social scoring.

While direct interaction with your brand or the use of certain keywords can demonstrate a lead’s interest in your business, other social behaviours can provide insight into a lead’s mindset.

LinkedIn groups or who someone follows can provide clues about the lead’s interests and job function. Followers of a relevant industry leader or members of an industry LinkedIn group will likely be interested in learning more about your organization. Followers of your competitors might be far into the sales cycle, so you might consider increasing their lead scores.

Score Social Data With a Grain of Salt

All of these actions can — and should — be scored, but be mindful that they still represent one lead. It’s important to ensure your lead-scoring model reflects the fact that actions are additive. A lead who clicks on one of your blog post links on Facebook will probably also sign up for a webinar or download an ebook. You don’t want to give too many points to anyone action.

Further, social media interaction should not be scored like email. Most behavioural scoring models include negative scoring for a lack of activity over a period of time, but social is a different beast. A lead who doesn’t open an email for a month might have gone cold, but a quiet lead on social media might simply mean that person hasn’t logged into Twitter for a while or missed your content in her stream.

Think of social data as sonar for your fishing boat. It will help you pinpoint leads nibbling at your bait and track their behaviours over time. Identifying your opportunities today with social data can help you reel in qualified leads, sync social activities, and accelerate demand generation.

There are whales swimming through nearby waters as you read this. You just need to find them.

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