The overuse of the word “like” in our everyday communications is flagrant. As much as I hate it when I hear others tossing the word meaninglessly into their conversations, I still catch myself doing it. Like so many others before me, I blame Frank and Moon Unit Zappa and their 1982 song “Valley Girl” for my transgressions.

Now, thanks to the introduction of the “like” button on Facebook in 2009, we have another “like” to contend with – and this one is just as rampant. Sure, Facebook “likes” have their place; it’s the quickest and easiest way for a contact to show appreciation of a post or a page. But clicking “like” has become almost as commonplace as peppering our conversations with the word “like.”

As B2B organizations continue to work very hard to get more people to “like,” follow and connect to their businesses, they need to turn these actions into something meaningful. Ultimately, the goal is to turn a growing social network into marketing qualified leads and more sales. Here are the first steps to turning those “likes” into leads:

  • Understand the meaning of “like.” Social media objectives should align with the organization’s business goals, which generally include increasing awareness, generating leads, converting leads or retaining existing customers. How you evaluate and interpret a “like” depends on the objective. For example, if your objective is to increase awareness and reputation, the number of “likes” is an indicator of the size of your potential audience and growth of your social community (if the users who “like” the page actually match the target buying audience). If your objective is to generate leads, a “like” is only a path to engagement. It’s not a guarantee that someone is engaged in a meaningful way.
  • Develop an engagement strategy. A “like” provides the opportunity to engage with a user and gather additional insights to determine if the user has a genuine interest. Entice him or her with a compelling call to action that leads to an email registration, white paper download, blog post or other type of content by including links to landing pages. Offer exclusive content to people who “like” or follow your business on social media.
  • Identify the potential. Not all “likes” are created equal. Analyze the type of content or message that generated the “like” and the type of individual or buyer persona who “liked” the page to ensure content and messages are resonating with the types of buyers you are targeting. The potential for turning a “like” into a lead only exists if you are engaging with the right people.
  • Remember to add value. The most important thing to remember is that you must continue to offer relevant and valuable content and conversations to establish an ongoing relationship long after the “like.” Don’t simply push out content; create a nurture experience that encourages a dialogue and builds a relationship with your buyers.
  • Share the love. Whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook or another social network, cultivating an online community is a great way to nurture your prospects by connecting them with the customers and partners who love and work with your products and solutions. Make it easy and compelling to share and re-post.

    Generating revenue from social media “likes” is a long-term strategy, but a simple “like” can be the start of a lasting relationship. These are just a few tips to facilitate the journey. Please comment on this post to share any experiences that you have had in your organization.