Lead generation through social media: The coming wave
Like Lois, I've been in the midst of 2010 planning the past week, which hasn't meant much time for blogging. One item I bookmarked that I want to write about is the announcement by SlideShare last week about a new service for lead generation. Called LeadShare, the service allows marketers to embed a lead form anywhere within presentations they make available on SlideShare and then pay only for leads they gather on a sliding cost scale depending on the amount of information captured.
The question I hear the most about social media is whether it can generate leads. The answer always has been squishy at best, and based upon connections that are made through such vehicles on blog comments and Twitter conversations. Those connections help, but fall far short of the traditional mechanism for capturing leads online, which typically involves putting up a form as a barrier to a white paper.
This is the first service I have seen that blends the two worlds and I predict we'll quickly see more like it. The service allows marketers to put slide-based content up on a social network accessed by millions of people (SlideShare had 20 million visitors/month), with keywords and tags so it can be found and links and embed code for easy sharing. This gives them a chance to build trust and connect with a community. Here is a chance to use that trust while asking for permission to take the relationship further in a non-intrusive way.
Another way to leverage this is with Webinar content that every company creates over and over again. Keep doing what you're doing in terms of how you capture leads through those, but why not create a corporate SlideShare channel to post the same content where millions may be seeking that kind of information? Include the lead form at the end of slide deck to extend the lead generation efforts outside your site. Beyond this, make the content memorable and geared toward solving your customers' problems. This will create a network effect as those interested in the content may then embed it on their blogs or sites with the same lead form included.
To me, this is a no-brainer.