Social media marketing is inherently different from traditional channels of communication. Consumers expect more personal messaging; they want to talk about interests, not just business; and they want conversations to move quickly. However, this doesn’t mean that social media can’t, or shouldn’t, be used to drive leads into your sales funnel. It simply means that the conversation needs to be optimized.

Keep It Short

There’s a common saying now that the average person’s attention span is shorter than a goldfish, at just 8 seconds. And even though the average online adult spends over 2 hours each day on social media, only about 17 minutes is spent on Twitter, often just a few minutes at a time. You might have the coolest brand on the Internet, but no one is going to spend more than a minute or two with you on social media. Always get to the point.

Say What You Do

Social media users are connected to hundreds of people and brands, some they know better than others. Just because a lead follows you on Twitter or connects on LinkedIn, don’t assume they actually know who you are! Be specific. You might sell a wide range of data center solutions, but only mention the new cloud-based security solution that would be the most effective for them. Less is more when it comes to marketing, and fewer choices will lead to a better response. By being upfront at the beginning about who you are and why you’re contacting them, you will save time during the conversation weeding out irrelevant questions and unrelated topics.

Offer Your Help

Don’t let your target ask the question “so what?” Your conversation is not an ad, and as such, it’s not a place to overtly promote your product. Rather, focus on the needs of your target and provide a benefit to them. Don’t tell them about how your product is the first cloud-based data center security solution of its kind. Tell them that you can protect their network in real-time at scale. If you’re unsure what information is valuable to them, this is a great opportunity to ask them an open-ended question.

Follow Up As Needed

Once they’re engaged, move them closer to the buying cycle. If they mention that your product would be perfect for them, great! Get them on the phone and close that deal. Most likely, they’ll want to know more, and you need to tailor the conversation quickly to their specific need. The biggest mistake is asking a generic yes-or-no question. These kinds of questions tell you very little about your target, and it gives them no incentive to engage. Check out these 10 tips for direct messaging new prospects on Twitter.

Encourage Action

The all-important call-to-action should be present at every step of the conversation. Include a link to your landing page in the very first message, whether or not you start with a question. Then, as soon as you’ve moved the conversation to a point where the lead is ready to learn more or give your product a try, give them the opportunity to do so. Make sure these 7 attributes are present in your call-to-action.

Social media conversations are meant to be social, but don’t form a connection with your target customer without using the opportunity to drive them into the buying cycle. The marketing conversation will be shorter and faster than traditional channels, but the same goal of filling your funnel with warm leads should apply. And if you need a little help, check out these tools to help you manage conversations.