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How to Find Sales Leads on Social Media

How a gourmet cupcake shop drove sales using social media without driving away customers -- and how you can, too.

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This story appears in the February 2011 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When it comes to using social media for any purpose, including lead generation, marketers need to recognize and live by a fundamental truth: It's not about them. No one joins a social network because they want to meet more brands. You and your brand are being invited into the new media social channels to entertain and contribute value. If you overstep and launch into a blatant sales pitch, you'll be asked to leave. No one here speaks "interruption marketing."

A study last year by digital agency 360i found that 90 percent of the posts on one platform, Twitter, came from consumers rather than brands, and that 94 percent of those tweets were personal and didn't mention a brand at all. U.S. consumers, Nielsen found in August, spend almost a quarter of their online time in social networks. They aren't there to get pitched--they're there to share the details of their lives with friends and like-minded individuals.

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