Before we can talk about lead generation on social media, let’s define exactly what we mean when we talk about leads. Leads are, quite simply, potential customers who have expressed some interest in your product or company and have provided contact information you can use to follow up with more information. You can then pass these leads directly to your sales department or engage with them using a tailored content marketing program.
If you’re not providing your sales team with a steady stream of potential new customers, you’re doing your business a disservice. And you’re doing yourself a disservice, too, because lead generation metrics are a key way to prove the value of your social marketing efforts to your boss.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of lead generation using social media specifically is the ability to focus on highly qualified leads through advanced targeting.
8 tactics for lead generation using social media
So how do you go about using social media for lead generation? Let’s look at some of the best ways to start filling the sales funnel for your team.
1. 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.
Facebook lead ads
This specialized ad format offers a low-commitment, low-barrier way for potential customers to connect with your business without leaving Facebook. As with a gated content offer, the potential customer provides information in exchange for something of value. That something of value can be either digital—like a newsletter, white paper, or coupon—or something that’s delivered in real life—like a product demonstration at a brick and mortar store or a test drive.
One great advantage of Facebook lead ads over a regular gated content offer is that Facebook automatically populates the lead form with the user’s contact information, so it can take as few as two clicks or taps for a potential customer to connect. You choose how much information you need, so you can get enough information for the lead to be useful, but not ask for so much that it scares the user away.
You can connect the generated leads directly to your CRM or mail program, or download them to pass along to your sales team.
Looking for inspiration? Head on over to our post that highlights seven brands making great use of Facebook Lead ads.
Instagram lead ads
Since Facebook owns Instagram, Facebook lead ads can also appear on Instagram, as long as the ads meet Instagram’s design requirements. However, lead ads behave a little differently on Instagram than they do on Facebook.
Instagram can only pre-populate the lead form with email, full name, phone number, and gender. If you want to collect additional information, the user will have to type it in.
Since Instagram lead ads only appear on mobile, and it takes 40 percent longer to fill out a form on a mobile device than on a desktop, you should only request additional information if it is critical for your initial sales efforts.
Another key reason to keep it simple? While users scroll down to fill out each lead form section on Facebook, on Instagram each section is a separate screen, providing more opportunities for users to click away.
LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms
LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms also make it very easy for potential customers to share their information, since they are pre-populated with details from the user’s LinkedIn profile.
Since LinkedIn is primarily a professional networking site, the pre-populated information can include work details like job title, company, and seniority, as well as education details like degree, school, and field of study, giving you an extremely rich set of data about each lead. That said, LinkedIn recommends sticking to three or four key fields to maximize conversion.
Like Facebook lead ads, LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms require no typing at all to complete, making them easy to complete even on mobile devices—which is a good thing, since LinkedIn Lead Gen forms are only available on mobile (and only for Sponsored Content campaigns). Lead Gen forms for desktop and Sponsored InMail campaigns should roll out later this year.
LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms just launched in April, but they are already seeing good results. According to LinkedIn itself, 90 percent of the 50 businesses in the pilot project exceeded their cost-per-lead goals.
2. 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.
The second approach is to open the video up to a wide audience and generate leads from that audience in one of two ways:
During the video, direct viewers to offers, contests, or other social media lead generation tools on another platform, such as a landing page on your website or a custom tab on your Facebook page
Encourage live interaction by offering a reward for participation, then be sure to follow up with those who leave comments. The follow up could be as simple as directing people to resources related to their comments (including gated content), or you could encourage them to reach out to your team on social media with any further questions. Since these people have already expressed interest in your content and expertise, this simple post-video contact could generate more leads than you expect.
Keep in mind that the more specialized or niche your video, the fewer leads you will likely generate, but the more targeted the leads will be.
3. 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.
After all, anyone might be interested in entering a contest to win a free iPhone or trip to Hawaii, but their contact information is about as valuable as what you would find in a phone book. They have expressed no interest in you, your company, your product, or even your content—just lots of interest in big fancy free things that anyone would enjoy.
So, what should you offer as your contest prize? An extended trial of your product could be a good option, or an upgrade to a higher tier of your service. After all, those prizes only have value to people who are genuinely interested in using your product. If you sell physical products, you could give away some of the products themselves.
There are a couple of different ways to allow people to enter a contest for lead generation through social media:
- Enter by retweeting/sharing/liking/following: These are the easiest contests for people to enter, so you’ll likely get a large number of entrants. But since entrants only share the information that’s already publicly available on their social media profiles, this is not a great option for lead generation. And keep in mind that if you regularly ask for likes, comments, and shares, the Facebook algorithm may view your posts as spam and decrease your News Feed distribution.
- Click through to a landing page: Since this involves an extra step, you’ll get fewer entrants than for a contest that just requires retweeting or liking. However, you can gather information through a contest entry form—as in the IKEA example below—that will turn your contest entrants into qualified leads.
4. Do gated content the right way
Here’s my approach on gated content. Most of your social media audience consists of people who haven’t purchased from you, right?
They are at the top of the funnel. They are aware. Maybe they are considering.
What you want to do is gently coax them down the funnel. No, you’re not necessarily trying to get a sale. You just want to get them to act.
How do you do that? By making a small ask on some gated content.
Gated content is content that users can only get once they complete an action and get on the other side of the “gate.”
Usually, this means that users have to sign up for an email list or share a post/like a page on social media. Once they complete that action, they get the content.
Now, usually I don’t like gated content. That’s because I want to give people as much value as possible without asking anything in return. Gated content is still not something I do a whole lot.
But, if you’ve got something that’s excellent and if you can communicate that to your audience, then your audience will understand that their name and email is a small price to pay for what they’re getting.
That means your audience has to trust you. And, you have to respect them. Don’t spam them or sell their emails. Trust is a two-way street.
Social media lead generation doesn’t have to give you a headache.
If you’re not having success with your current strategies, try out these four techniques. And, if you’re not on some of these platforms, give that a shot, too.
These techniques aren’t the run-of-the-mill suggestions and I think that’s part of why they work so well.
When someone sees an ad, they usually see it as little more than a marketing tactic.
What I especially love about these methods is the flexibility. You can get creative and put a new spin on these to make them your own.
So, get out there, put these techniques into action and get the warm leads that are out there waiting for you.
In fact, here’s a challenge for you. Follow these steps — heck, come up with some of your own — and see just how many leads you can get in a week.