Twitter SearchForgive me for stating the obvious, but it’s often challenging for small businesses to justify investing the time, effort and funds necessary to properly implement a social marketing strategy unless they reap measurable bottom-line results.

While the primary aim of your social marketing efforts should be to build and solidify brand awareness, that’s not to say there aren’t immediately available sales opportunities waiting for you. You just have to know where to look and how best to capitalize on them before one of your competitors beats you to it.

In this article courtesy of huffingtonpost.com, the author does a fantastic job of providing actionable suggestions for how you can start using social media to begin capturing promising sales leads today.

One of the key takeaways from the piece is that you need to take advantage of social media’s available “listening” tools to learn what potential customers are asking for.

From the article: “Using the search function on platforms like Twitter, G+ and Pinterest allows you reach customers that are of the utmost relevance to your brand in the ultimate context. People are literally announcing to the world that they need your product and no one is answering them. Social listening should be thought of as an extension of customer service. Even if these customers aren’t talking directly to you, they are talking, and talking in a place where it’s culturally acceptable for you to join the conversation.”

In short, listen for sales opportunities in the context of customer support issues and directly communicated buying intentions. Then respond with marketing messages that address those potential customers’ specific pain points or purchase considerations.

Don’t copy-and-paste the same boilerplate sales pitch. Taylor your messages to the individuals and their uniquely stated expectations. Social media allows you to be nimble in that regard without sacrificing your company’s overarching brand-building strategy.