Naturally, most business owners are on the lookout for ways to grow their business, usually by attracting more customers which would, hopefully, increase sales volume. To achieve this, you need a steady stream of good and reliable information or leads from the market place, like B2B companies, or other sources who are interested in the products or services you offer and who have the budget and the authority to buy them.
Of course, finding solid information about potential customers is not easy. In fact, according to a recent Hubspot survey, many marketers consider traffic and lead generation as one of their biggest marketing challenges. Fortunately, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram can be a source of gathering information about potential customers but also a great source to tap for lead generation.
Why social networks are great for lead generation
What makes social media a good place for lead generation? The answer is simple: That’s where the buyers are. While techniques such as cold calling and direct mailing had been effective for salespeople in the past, the majority of decision-makers nowadays have turned their attention to social media for generating leads.
Moreover, while some people may discover your website through your optimized search terms on Google, potential buyers may be dubious of your claims, believing your website to be nothing more than marketing material. Instead, they will spend more time checking out Youtube videos and social media posts for candid reviews and actual recommendations from peers who have already bought what you are selling.
Another great benefit of lead generation through social media is that you can use advanced targeting to filter the leads that you receive. With this, you will get high-quality leads, and not just more leads.
So how do you find potential customers on social media? Let’s look at 6 simple ways.
1. Post links to gated content
Gated content is any media that the user can access only after providing basic contact information which would allow the user to see, read and interact with the content. Examples include:
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Case studies
- Discount/promo codes
- Cheat sheets and checklists
- Free email courses
- Access to a free online tool
Your gated content (also known as “lead magnet”) should be highly relevant to your industry or the products/services you offer. To promote it effectively on social media, share a link to a landing page where the user can enter the required details in order to access the content.
The landing page only has one purpose: to capture leads. Your landing page should be simple and uncluttered, without any other information or links. This way, the visitors will know exactly what you want them to do and will not be overwhelmed.
Some people who only have a casual interest in your lead magnet will click away when they get to the landing page, but the ones who are really interested and who see the value in the content will not mind sharing their contact information. You have essentially tapped those people as good leads.
To determine what kind of lead magnet resonates best with your audience, you should experiment. For B2B marketers, the most effective ones tend to be white papers, which is a sales and marketing document, used to entice or persuade customers to learn more about a product. B2B marketers also use case studies and webinars.
Businesses that have only a simple lead form which, say, requires only the user’s name and email address, tend to obtain a higher conversion rate.
2. Run contests or giveaways
People love winning and receiving free stuff, so giving away prizes can be an effective marketing tool.
However, you have to be reasonable and realistic when choosing the value of the prize. It should be valuable enough to entice your potential customers to enter the contest, but valuable only to the people who are your potential customers.
If, for example, your business is an academic tutoring service, giving away prizes in the form of cash or a free iPhone is not a good idea because the prize is valuable to everyone and not necessarily just your potential customers. The contest will just attract people who want free stuff but have no interest in your tutorial services. As a result, you will receive a lot of useless contact information and very few (if any) qualified leads. In the particular example, it is better to offer, say, a free month of tutoring service as your contest prize. That way, you will attract people who are in need of your tutorial services.
As for the mechanics of the contest, you can choose to have interested people enter the contest in one of two ways:
By engaging with the content or account; or
By filling out a landing page form.
In the case of the former, the entrant would need to like, share, retweet, comment, or follow. While this makes joining the contest easy for the participants, this is not the best way to generate leads. In addition, regularly asking people for likes, comments or shares can get your posts flagged as spam by the Facebook algorithm, leading to reduced distribution on the news feed.
In regards to the latter, this is not as convenient, so fewer people will enter the contest, but you can gather the entrants’ contact details and thus turn them into qualified leads.
At the end of the entry form, make sure to have a way for the participants to share the promo on their social media accounts which could help generate even more possible leads.
3. Advertise on social media
Some social media channels have become “pay to play” platform for marketers. Facebook is especially notorious for the way it limits the visibility of organic (unpaid) page posts to only a tiny fraction of the page followers, so in order for your posts to gain traction and be usable as a lead generation tool, you usually need to spend more money on advertising.
Organic posts don’t have many options when it comes to targeting. In contrast, social media advertising enables laser-focused targeting of potential customers. Because many users already have most of their information online, marketers can accurately rate their leads based on the leads’ demographic information, preferences, and even buying habits. As a marketer, you just have to capture the attention of your target audience. By promoting your lead magnet to this highly targeted audience, you can get high-quality leads without spending a lot money.
Social media advertising also gives you access to ad formats that are specifically designed to help with lead collection. Facebook, Instagram (which is owned by Facebook), Twitter, and LinkedIn all have ad formats that automatically fill out the lead form with the user’s contact details. The information is automatically downloaded from the user’s existing profile.
On your sponsored posts, always have a strong call-to-action feature in order to generate conversions. Ask users to download your free report or attend your webinar, for example.
To maximize the conversion rate, it is advisable to request only the most important details. Asking too much information might irritate users who will simply click out. This is especially true for mobile phone users.
4. Participate in groups
Facebook, LinkedIn, and all the other social media channels have sizable and engaged groups that are willing to spend money on relevant products and services, but only if they can trust the individual or company they are buying from.
There is also a psychological effect or phenomenon called the “reciprocity trigger,” which is the tendency for people to want to help someone who has helped them previously. This suggests that if you become an active, respectful, and helpful member in these online communities, people will start asking about your business or checking it out. And, because you have become a “familiar face” that regularly contributes meaningful posts and comments, other members will see your business as a trustworthy, authoritative brand that they will seek out when they need and are ready to buy the things you offer.
The key is not to be all about promotion; focus first on building a relationship and, then, only market your business when asked.
5. Use targeted social listening
One great thing about social media as a lead generation tool is that marketers and sales personnel don’t have to make cold approaches. By using targeted social listening, they can find prospects who are already slightly warm, instead of approaching people indiscriminately.
Social listening is about using social networks to monitor what’s happening in your industry and your market. A complaint about your competitor, a discussion on Facebook or a question on Twitter, for example, are all avenues where you can find leads and have an opening to initiate conversations that can eventually lead to sales. In addition, you can gather information about your potential customers’ interests, preferences, pain points, and what will nudge them to buy your products or services.
Social listening can also help you keep track of any mentions of your business, positive or otherwise. The majority of consumers are influenced by online reviews, especially negative ones, so it is a must for you to monitor what people say about your brand online and to respond to their compliments or complaints as soon as possible.
6. Run a webinar or live stream
Webinars and live stream events are incredibly popular nowadays, and are one of the most effective media types for gated content.
You can use live streams to:
- Conduct product demonstrations
- Hold live contests
- Interview people
- Vlog in real-time
- Cover events
- Hold Q&A sessions
The type of Q&A session that can generate a great deal of traffic is an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session. This style initially became popular on Reddit but can also be done on Periscope, Facebook, Twitter, and pretty much any other social network. In an AMA, the audience is free to ask the interviewee any question. An AMA can be a one-time event within a limited period or can be an ongoing and regularly scheduled event.
By going live, you can directly interact with your followers in real-time. But how can you use that for lead generation? One option is by using webinars and live streams as gated content and asking interested viewers to register in advance.
Another way is to make the video or stream viewable to everyone. That way, you will generate leads by:
Directing the viewers to your lead generation tool — such as an offer, contest, landing page or custom Facebook page tab — during the actual video; or
Encouraging live interaction by giving participants a reward, then following up later with those who have participated.
What makes live streams effective is that people enjoy being a part of something live. Live streams also tap into the scarcity trigger because they are only live for a limited time. Social media channels also notify followers when an account they follow is starting a live event, which increases the number of attendees.
Moreover, participants seem more receptive to a webinar or live stream. While many people see ads as nothing but a blatant marketing tactic, they don’t have the same knee-jerk reaction when it comes to live streams and webinars.
After gathering leads, what next?
When it comes to lead generation, it is necessary to have a reliable customer relationship management (CRM) system to keep track of where your leads are in the process. How you communicate with your potential customers depends on the kind of sales leads you have.
Most leads are marketing-qualified leads (MQLs); these types of leads are typically an individual who has an interest in what you offer, so they may be receptive to marketing but not necessarily ready to purchase. For MQLs, you can introduce them into your lead funnel; have personalized emails delivered to them automatically as the emails can cultivate your relationship with your prospects and warm them up into buying from you in the future.
Sales-qualified leads (SQLs), meanwhile, are those individuals whose needs perfectly match what you offer and are also extremely interested and ready to buy right away. For SQLs, you will want your salespeople to get in touch with them immediately, within 24 hours if possible, for a sales call, product demonstration or an appointment.
Of course, you can and should continue to communicate with your leads through social media to help them identify what they need and what they want. Over time, the greater the number of positive engagements you have with potential customers the more likely that they will trust you and go to you (and not your competitors) when they’re ready to buy.
Lead generation is a continuous and challenging process that entrepreneurs need to focus on to grow their businesses. Thanks to social media, however, gathering sales leads no longer needs to be a shot in the dark. Marketers can use these social media channels not just to find and target warm leads, but to communicate with them as well.