Originally published by the Content Marketing Institute.
According to a recent study by FUSION b2b, the top B2B marketing priority for 2011 is lead generation. This supports what I’ve been hearing from my clients and peers – that their biggest challenge is attracting high-quality leads their sales teams will love.

More marketers are turning to digital channels to connect with great leads. In fact, the FUSION b2b study also revealed that an amazing 96.9% of B2B marketers plan to increase their use of social media this year. For these reasons, I’d like to explore how to generate leads through social media. Here are three keys to creating social media content that converts.

Share valuable content

People join social media communities to engage with like-minded individuals and exchange ideas. If your content isn’t relevant to your audience’s needs, they will drop you from their social networks.

Always look for ways to bring new value to your community.

Rethink your call to action

In direct marketing, your call to action may encourage readers to contact you for a free trial or purchase something right away. While you can get direct sales through social media, the bulk of your social media efforts should focus on building trust with your community. For this reason, you should consider the following calls to action:

Know when it’s OK to sell on social media

I like to think of social media as a great starting point for a relationship. It’s hard to sell an expensive product or service with a 140-character tweet. That’s why it’s important to move your relationships onto other platforms. Once you have an established presence on social media and an engaged community, you can start to put out more marketing messages.

Instead of trying to sell your products or services on social media, try to sell the next step.

Ideally, you should get leads to move from social channels to your list, so you can start sending them marketing content. Here are some ways you can do this:

Just remember to keep the bulk of your social media content non-salesy.The more sales-driven your messages, the more you will turn off your community. You should also realize that opening a Twitter, Facebook or other social account isn’t a magic solution that will solve all your lead generation challenges. It takes time to develop relationships that lead to sales – whether you’re connecting with prospects through social media or a traditional marketing channel. Like any other business strategy, you must commit for the long-term to see measurable return on investment.

Want to know more about creating social media content that attracts leads?

Join me on Monday, July 4, from 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Eastern as I team up with The Social CMO to discuss how to create social media content that drives action. To join the conversation, log into Twitter and search for the #MMChat hashtag. This will show you everyone who is part of the conversation. If you have a question or a comment, simply add the #MMChat hashtag to the body of your tweet, and the other participants will be able to see and respond to you. Click here to learn more about this event. I look forward to chatting with you!  

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