Social media is much more than just a way to grow your brand and connect with your current customers. When done correctly, you can actually use sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to generate real leads for your business. And the cherry on top is that social media lead generation is cost effective, and produces results:
- Social media marketing has reduced costs for 45% of businesses.
- Revenue increased for 24% of businesses when they utilized social media for lead generation.
The question is: How do you take your social media marketing campaigns from a customer service and branding tool, and turn them into lead generating machines?
Let’s start with the basics. Lead generation is all about bringing people into your sales funnel. It’s not the same thing as selling. Think of lead generation as gathering intelligence on your customers. You’re getting to know:
- What your target audience is interested in
- Which products/service you could potentially sell to them
- What their pain points are
- How you can eventually turn them into paying customers
A long time ago, lead generation consisted of things like sending out surveys in the mail, or having you fill out a form in the back of a magazine. But the Internet has completely changed the way businesses get leads—for the better.
Today, it’s all about gated content, video marketing, email opt-ins and paid ad campaigns that are aimed at getting potential customers into your sales funnel. Since it’s all done online, it’s quicker, easier to track and the possibilities for the data you can collect for each lead is amazing. The most popular piece of information to gather from leads is an email address. Some marketers also like to get a name.
Here’s how social media sites come into play. Social media makes the process even easier because of all of the information that people readily share, and also because of the sheer number of users on sites like Facebook and Twitter. We’re living in a time when 40% of people spend more time socializing on social media than face to face. So needless to say, social media makes for the perfect place to find your target audience and turn them into new sales leads.
One of the worst mistakes you can make right from the start is trying to get leads from the wrong social media channel. This step is all about knowing your customers. With over one billion users, it’s easy to assume that Facebook is the go-to choice. But that’s not always the case.
For some marketers, 44% have generated leads through LinkedIn, while 39% have done it through Facebook. Twitter comes in third with 30%.
The techniques you need to use to generate leads is going to partially depend on which social media site you’re focusing on. Here’s some ideas to get you started.
1. Share links to gated content
Gated content is exactly what it sounds like—content hidden behind a virtual gate. If the content is valuable enough, interested readers will be willing to provide some basic contact information in exchange for access.
When using social media for lead generation, you can promote gated content by sharing a link to a landing page where potential readers provide their information before gaining access to the content.
2. Run contests
Here’s the thing about contests: The prize up for grabs has to fulfill two important criteria. First, it has to be valuable enough that people will actually be interested in entering the contest. But second, it has to be valuable specifically to the people who have the highest potential to become your customers, and not much value to anyone else.
If the prize is not valuable enough, no one will enter your contest. But if it’s so generically valuable that everyone who sees the contest will want to enter, you’ll gather loads of contact information but no qualified leads.
3. Use social media advertising
While organic social media posts can be targeted to some extent, social media advertising takes targeting—and therefore the ability to collect leads from laser-focused groups of potential customers—to a whole new level. Using highly specific target audiences to promote gated content is a great way to keep advertising costs low while ensuring the leads you collect meet certain desirable criteria.
But beyond simple targeting, social media advertising has evolved to include specific social media lead generation tools: ad formats specifically designed to help marketers collect leads directly within social networks.
4. Use Facebook custom tabs
Your Facebook Business Page is a great venue for lead generation on social media. After all, data from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research shows that among U.S. millennial’s who follow brands on Facebook, 66 percent do so to get coupons or discounts, and 37 percent do so to participate in contests. That’s great news for marketers, since coupons, discounts, and contests are all great social media lead generation tools.
Tabs are basically menu items that appear in the left column of your Facebook Page. Most Facebook Business Pages already use at least some of the standard Facebook Page tabs, such as About, Events, and Photos. But fewer use custom Facebook Page tabs, which can be a great way to highlight contests and offers used for lead generation on social media.
5. Host a hangout, webinar, or live video
We’ve already mentioned that webinars are one of the best-performing types of content for gated content offers. Google+ hangouts and live videos on social media are additional video options that can be used for lead generation through social media.
There are two approaches to generating leads with live video, hangouts, and webinars. The first option is to present the video as gated content, requiring interested viewers to register in advance by providing their contact information.
6. Use Geo-targeted search
For brick-and-mortar businesses in particular, using social media for lead generation is all about going local. Most local businesses already know about Geo-targeting for social media posts and ads to reach the audiences closest to their business while maximizing their social media efforts and ad spend. But far fewer businesses are taking advantage of Geo-targeted social search to uncover local leads.
Geo-targeted social search can help you find these exact people and reach out to invite them to your business or direct them to a special offer lead generation form.
Larger or online companies can benefit from Geo-targeted social search, too. For example, you could use Geo-targeted search to track the tweets coming from the venue of an industry conference—whether or not you’re actually there. You could then reach out to the people tweeting from the event with a custom offer, like a trial of your app, or just to say hello and establish a connection to develop over time.
7. Use targeted social media listening
Social media listening is all about keeping a virtual ear to the ground to understand what’s happening in your industry, and who’s talking about you and your competitors online. It’s an important source of actionable insights—including potential leads who are looking to engage with businesses just like yours.
By using search streams to monitor important keywords and handles in your industry, you can uncover conversations people are having about relevant products and services, or even specific features. You can then reach out to the people behind these conversations to make a connection, share information that’s helpful (maybe even gated content), and establish a relationship that will position your brand as the go-to resource when they are ready to buy.
Start changing the way your business uses social media today. Stop thinking of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn as just tools for branding, and get more value by using them to generate leads.
How are you using social media lead generation? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to follow me on my Facebook Page.