Consider the humble #hashtag. In the past year, what used to be known by most people as the pound sign on your phone now packs a mighty punch in lead generation. From a marketing and lead gen perspective, Twitter’s hashtag represents the clean and solid impact of the social landscape. All a social marketer needs to do is hash together a message to organize the mass engagement from promoted content. The natural side effect of live stream engagement on Twitter is a rich and organized marketing strategy that is neatly packaged with clear, striking and punctuated messaging. Likewise, other social media channels like Facebook and Google+ operate in the same vein.

At the core, if a marketer wants to drum up leads and galvanize ROI, they need to observe and understand how best to forge a lasting relationship with their social audience. In return for the upfront homework, the marketer effortlessly creates a genuine audience of prospective and future brand advocates. In short, social media is a true friend with – lead generating—benefits.

As with any long-term relationship, building a standout presence on Twitter requires consistent attention to and awareness of your audience and overall goals. In my time wielding all things social, I’ve identified three key practices that lead to substantial results.

  1. Uncover Your Audience’s Online Behavior  – If you want to attract a certain demographics’ business, learn as much as possible about their online habits.

For example, if you operate in the Tech space, consider what Marketing Land Editor-in-Chief Matt McGee derived about Twitter’s impressive impact on B2B tech audiences. He calculated that “59 percent of Twitter users visited a B2B tech site during the study period, compared to 40 percent of average Internet users.[1]

Tap into your market research skills in order to outline how to align your strategy to your audience’s existing habits. What you find might surprise you, so refresh your analysis periodically to stay ahead of your audience’s future online social trapezing.

2.Find a balance between gated and open content– Both gated content, such as white papers, and open content, such as blogs, are vital to a vocal online presence. However, they play different roles.

Gated Content – Materials that require registration may feel risky. Consumer Think contribute Anqi Cong believes, however, that while gated content can reduce downloads by an estimated 2-5%, those who do register for access are quality leads[2].  What’s more, people often place more value in gated content because they have to give something (their contact information) to get something (the gate content).

Open Content – While gated content reels in genuinely interested parties, engaging open content found splashed on business social community pages — Facebook, YouTube, SlideShare — seals the deal in building a family of advocates. One caveat: consistently hook readers with unique and timely content.

  1. Reward and Engage Your Followers – You’ve invited them to the party and now it’s time to dive into the genuine interaction. Follow up with user comments on your social channels. Make sure they know that you’re ready to answer their questions and acknowledge their comments. Additionally, rewards and prizes keep your engagement at a sweet spot. Swag always leaves followers with a smile and they may in return direct a host of new prospects your way.

In following these three steps, you’re well on your way to a fruitful online presence. However, I call upon all social lead gen mavens: I want to know your best strategies and best practices. Do you have any success stories or words of caution? Be sure to share with the community in the comments below or Tweet me @Mr_Mat_Rider.

Don’t forget to tune in next week for a follow up on how to convert best practices into leads.

Thanks for reading!

[1] Adam Wexler. B2B Social Media Lead Generation: Some Great News! Insight Pool

[2] Anqi Cong. Social Media Lead Generation: Opening the Gate for Gated Content. Customer Think.