By Caitlin Brennan

April 28th, 2017

You know the cartoon trope where a hapless character is enticed by the wafting aroma of a pie cooling on a windowsill? Think of that as demand generation in a metaphorical and delicious form.

Demand generation is about attracting people to your brand not through hard-selling, but by educating them about common problems and providing content which contains the answers.

Social media and demand generation can’t be treated as different things. Here’s how you can use social media to support and drive demand generation.

demand generation

What Is demand generation?
Simply put, demand generation is the process of creating a need for your product. It’s a multi-step process that involves creating interest and awareness for your brand at various touch points along the customer journey. Demand generation differs from lead generation because it is focused on giving something to your customers opposed to asking for something, e.g. a prospect’s contact information.

Demand generation is a long strategic process, not a single, one-off campaign. Your aim for demand generation should be to nurture relationships over time.

Do you know your customers?
Before you can start any strategy to attract customers, you need to have a deep understanding of your customers’ persona. Marketers have long used customer personas as a tool to reach their customers more effectively.

Customer personas are essentially profiles of your target customers, incorporating information that will help you understand how to reach them, what their needs are from you and your brand, and what marketing messages they might be receptive to. The more you learn about your customer, the more data points you can connect to deliver targeted and relevant content.

demand generation

Adding information from social media to your personas can provide insight into behavior on different social networks, content consumption patterns, and how social media influences purchase behavior.

Using social customer personas helps you cut through the noise when creating content, and to focus on engagement without losing sight of your broader business objectives.

Why you should use social media for demand generation?
If your marketing campaigns exist in separate bubbles they will pop. All your campaigns need to be integrated and work in harmony towards the goal of promoting your business and selling your brand. In respect to social media, your postings have to serve a purpose and provide value to your audience.

The 80/20 Rule for social media dictates that only 20% of your posts should be promotional and the remaining 80% should be content that interests and educates your audience. Bottom line, you can’t generate demand without engaging content.

Social media also provides you the opportunity to reach your customers in real-time and track the results. To put the value of real-time in perspective, consider you placed an ad in a newspaper. Unless you include a coupon you won’t be able to gauge the journey a prospect took to become a customer. Without that information, you miss out on valuable insights and the ability to measure the ROI of your ad.

When you use social media for demand generation you can see the path from prospect to customer and use that information to fine-tune your content and distribution strategy. For example, by analyzing analytics you can determine the average number of assets prospects download before converting to a customer.

You can also identify the channels through which a customer found your assets. So, say you see a trend that shows recent customers clicked on five Facebook ads promoting downloadable ebooks. With that knowledge you can focus your content creation efforts on producing more ebooks that you can advertise on Facebook.

How to use social media for demand generation:

Know the social channels your audience frequents and what they discuss on each channel.
For effective demand generation you need to tailor your content for each social channel. Before you know how to create channel specific content you need to learn about your audience on each channel. Each social channel has a unique vernacular and cadence.

Note the conversation on each channel. Does your audience discuss different topics on say Twitter vs. Facebook? Also, look beyond the fans of your owned channels, look for relevant trending topics and chatter on your competitor’s channels.

You will likely find that different topics are discussed on different channels. For example, do people talk about tips on Twitter, whereas on Facebook they’re more interested in video content? For this example, you could create images with tips for Twitter and videos for Facebook.

Use social listening and keyword research
Identify trending keywords and use them to build your SEO strategy. When you know what keywords to use, you can build content around those concepts. However, keywords only tell part of the story. Adding social listening completes the story and reveals the intent behind the searched keywords. An ideal content strategy utilizes both keyword and social listening tools.

Social Listening tools provide a broader picture of what drives people to make certain decisions. When you tune into the casual conversations that real consumers have about you, your competition, you can get a picture of the factors that sway their decision-making. For example, if you operate a chain of family restaurants you’d include keywords like “family restaurant”, “family dinner” and “dining out” in your ads. Those are common search terms and there’s a lot of keyword competition.

You need to figure out what’s specifically being said about family restaurants to gain an advantage. A broad social listening approach can identify the common experiences and sentiments that your audience is expressing and you can cater to in turn.

To illustrate, say you check out what’s being said about a competing chain of family restaurants and you discover people are upset about long waiting times for seating. With this information you can create ads and content using the keywords “family restaurant” and “no wait time.”

When you add keywords to your content remember that SEO is no longer about ladening your content with keywords to boost your search results. Rather, it’s about using keywords that pertain to the topics that interest your audience.

Reel ‘em in
The more you can learn about your customers and tune into their needs, the better you will be able to generate leads. Once you know your customer’s persona you can better map out their journey and determine what kind of content to deliver along the way.

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