Social Media Saturation
You’re quite likely to have reached a certain milestone in your recent life. It’s not a birthday, or a career progression, or an achievement in a hobby—although, if you have, many congratulations. I’m talking about what we’ve been reading, what we’ve had no choice but to pay attention to; such is the state of things across the world at the moment.
What I’m talking about is something I’m going to call ‘pandemic over saturation’.
Simply put, we’ve been talking about the pandemic too much. We’ve been talking about it on too many different mediums. We’ve all shared our two pennies, usually with the same sentiment, veering from cautious optimism to exhaustion to optimism again as lockdowns and vaccinations have progressed.
There have been more think pieces than anyone could really count—including this one. (I’m fully aware of the irony of this—a think piece about think pieces about something we’re exhausted by!)
But this is true for many topics. So why does this impact lead generation?
The Double-Edged Sword of Social Media
The problem is that business is on the end of a double-edged sword. As the pandemic has forced us to stay home, stay distant, and shut up shop, there are stark few options available for the general public to spend their time on. Social media promises connectivity, so our social media usage has skyrocketed. We’re on our screens for longer. And while this would be a ripe opportunity for lead generation, it might have been having the opposite effect. Here, in particular, is where over saturation occurs.
Speed-Networking on Steroids
Social media can be likened to a networking event. It’s loud, it’s noisy, there’s some interesting images flashing around. In the pandemic, imagine that, but make the room ten times bigger. It’s like speed-networking, but constant, never-ending speed-networking, that with everyone in the room. You might be delivering a pretty great pitch, but so are a lot of other people—constantly. It’s enough to put anyone off.
This is before taking in the fact that many users don’t use social media for business. Factor in the pandemic over saturation, and users that are using social media as escapism. This is a generalisation, but by and large unless it’s retail therapy or media, business is not seen as escapism. This particularly hits B2B business, as less companies are in a position to think about anything but surviving.
It makes for a pretty dire picture: businesses have fewer opportunities to provide the escapism that people need right now. If you use social media for lead generation, you’re not going through it alone. It’s not just your reach slowing, stagnating or even decreasing. If you can’t reach people, you can’t lead them to your wares—but people aren’t wanting to be reached.
How, then, do you use social media if it’s working against selling?
Humans of Social Media Business
The answer, really, is not to sell, but to speak.
Make an audit of your industry. Watch how many people are promoting versus inviting audiences to look inside the company. Then record how many interactions they are getting: retweets, replies and shares. Where does the customer, as specific individuals or a general audience, feature in their posts? Where are the humans?
It’s always solid advice to present with a team instead of a faceless company, but that is especially the case now. Truthfully, the companies that are performing best are the ones acknowledging humanity and individuality—of themselves, but especially their audience.
Individualising Your Leads
This is why it is paramount to engage as much as you can with those that interact with you. We cover this in our PRM NOW series, using the same principle: the more individualistic and personalised a lead’s experience is with you, the more successful your lead generation will be.
Taking the Time to Go Outside
Now imagine you’re back at the networking event. You’ve found an interested party, but neither of you can hear each other over the din of the room. If the signs are right—they’re leaning in, keeping eye contact—you might ask them to join you outside. That way, you can actually hear each other.
The principle is much the same for social media. If people want to talk business, they don’t want to stay on social media for it. There’s too much risk of over saturation, and the lead risks being overwhelmed. In a more focused conversation, you and your lead are willingly in contact. All of the signs, of course, have to be there: a like isn’t enough of an indication to move away. But moving away is the end goal. Conducting your conversation in a quieter, more direct place (e.g. emails or direct messages), you know your contact is more likely to be receptive.
It’s your job to stay on top of these conversations. It requires more effort, honing in on leads at a time when it might be tempting to spray your social media with more general lead generating techniques. But the alternative is simply being one more voice in a crowded, loud room. No one will pay attention to you.
Cherish your engagement and interaction, and work hard at preserving each one. Because of over saturation, the choice is firmly in the audience’s hand. What you have to do is convince them you’re the best alternative they could have to their escapism.