Is social media just for raising awareness of your brand… or can you actually generate leads from it? The answer is you can definitely generate leads from social media. It can produce positive ROI. And there are a bunch of ways to get there.
But if you’re struggling with lead generation on social media, you’re not alone. Only 26% of marketers believe social media is an effective tactic for lead generation, according to Ascend2’s 2015 Lead Generation Trends Survey.
That doesn’t sound so good. But let’s dig a little deeper.
Not everybody is struggling with lead generation on social media. Social Media Examiner also did a detailed study of how marketers are using social media. One of the things they focused on was lead generation. And because of how they broke out the responses, we can see an interesting – and promising – trend. It’s also a nice kick-off of our list of lead generation tactics.
1) Give it enough time.
In the Social Media Examiner study, more than two-thirds of marketers who spent at least six hours a week doing social media marketing said they were doing well with lead generation.
So there’s your first way to get more leads from social media marketing. Social media, while free, requires time. About an hour a day. And while there are ways to save time on social media and ways to automate your social media work, ultimately it is a social medium. That means you’re going to have to be yourself and put in some time building real connections with people.
Good news is, the people who do that tend to get results.
2) Stick with it.
The next interesting tidbit from the Social Media Examiner study was how much experience helps with social media marketing. The people doing social media marketing for a year or more got substantially better results than the newbies. So if you’ve still got your social media training wheels on, stay with it. Experience brings results.
3) Be worth following on social media and apply best practices to get the most views and shares for your content.
Based on a lot of comments we’ve gotten here, and on the consensus of the smartest social media marketers, you don’t ever want to buy followers online. It just gets poor results.
That means you have to earn your followers.
First of all, be helpful. Create content that helps your audience do what they want to do. This may require you to take a step back to figure that out. So do it. If you don’t understand your audience – what they struggle with, what they care about, what they want – no amount of marketing tips and tricks can help you.
The first thing is to get your content’s content right. The next is to format it correctly. Infographics like “The optimal length for social media updates and more” can help. We’ve also published posts recently about how to get more engagement on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
4) Offer gated content resources.
Gated content is content you can only access after you’ve taken an action the marketer requests – like filling out a form or tweeting something.
You should be sharing these types of posts. But make them only about 5% of what you share. In other words, only one out of twenty things you share should be one of those promos.
Sound like a downer? It doesn’t have to be.
Figure out which time your posts get the most engagement. Then share that gated content promotion at your highest engagement time. You’ll still hold to the 5% rule, but you’ll probably get two to three times the results.
Don’t just use this for gated content. Pick which post of the day you want the most engagement for. Then schedule it for that high-engagement sweet spot.
5) Use social media overlay tools for your curated shares.
Want to get leads from all the other posts you publish, including the ones that send people to third party websites? Then you need Snip.ly, or a similar tool like start A FIRE or Openr.
These social media tools add an overlay to the URL you’re sharing. So when someone clicks on the link in your social media update, they’ll see your customized overlay on the landing page. That overlay can include almost anything you want – a call to follow you, a sign-up form, or a suggested blog post.
Here it is in action. From this Facebook post:
You’re brought to the third party website, Elite Daily, to read the article the Beardsman Oil Company has shared. But because they’ve used an overlay tool, there’s a small promo for them at the bottom of the page. If you click it, you’re brought directly to the Beardsman website.
6) Answer questions on Quora and in LinkedIn groups.
One of the best ways to attract leads is to show off how much you know about a subject. It works even better if you can answer questions from people who would benefit from using your products or services. So it’s not too surprising that many business people have taken to social media sites like LinkedIn, Quora and forums to answer questions.
Does it work? Given how many people are doing it, it’s got to be working. But I have not yet come across any research that shows what kinds of returns people are getting for this tactic. If you have, please let us know in the comments.
Bonus: Also leave comments on industry blogs. Blog commenting is another way to get your name out and demonstrate your expertise. It can also get you trickles of traffic, which could become leads.
7) Pay for leads.
You always can just advertise. Depending on the value of what you’re selling, advertising might be a good idea or a bad idea. On some platforms, social media advertising is getting expensive.
We’ve written quite a few posts about advertising on social media. Of course, if you do a lot of Facebook marketing, you’re probably already advertising… just to reach your audience.
8) Use YouTube and its annotated links to drive traffic to your website (or a specific landing page).
YouTube is social media, too! And it’s one of the biggest social media sites. Many businesses have put most of their social media resources into building their YouTube channel, and that’s not a bad idea. But don’t miss out on using YouTube to drive traffic to your site.
You get one “associated website” for your YouTube account, and you can use it to create annotations that send people back to your site. You can also add a link to your site from your YouTube channel main page, like this:
9) Run a contest.
Contests can work for both B2C and B2B companies. They’re a great way to convert part of a social media audience into email subscribers.
Contests are traditionally done on Facebook, but it’s more and more common to do them on Pinterest and Instagram, too.
Just bear this in mind: You should have a strong presence on the social media platform you run the contest on. Otherwise you may not get the results you want; contests require pre-existing audiences to work.
Photo courtesy of Social Media Examiner, from their blog post, “How to Run an Instagram Contest: Four Easy Steps”.
10) Optimize your Facebook page for serious list building.
Start with installing a custom tab. Then create a call-to-action. But that’s just the beginning. We wrote a whole post on “15 Ways to Build Your Email List With Facebook” not so long ago.
11) Use SlideShare.
SlideShare is one of the biggest opportunities for B2B content marketers. It’s an ideal platform for reformatting content (especially list posts). SlideShare is also owned by LinkedIn, so there are excellent cross-promotion opportunities.
SlideShare also has a lead generation program called LeadShare. It’s affordable, has tracking and analytics, and can be set up in just a few minutes. Here’s an example of lead generation from a SlideShare presentation:
Here’s what you’ll see after you click the “Learn More” button:
12) Set up your LinkedIn profile to be a business magnet.
LinkedIn is possibly the best social media platform of all for lead generation. So make it work for you. We wrote a post recently about how to get more business from LinkedIn.
13) Use Pinterest.
Pinterest is way more than recipes and clothes. It’s become a viable B2B lead generation platform for many smart businesses. If nothing else, it’s a great place to showcase all your blog posts. You can also use it to archive your email newsletters, or to corral all your infographics. But that’s barely scratching the surface of what Pinterest can do.
There’s one real-world example of Pinterest lead generation right below. Real estate companies have discovered that Pinterest is a gold mine.
14) Spruce up your Instagram bio.
Instagram now has more users than Twitter, which means that if your content is visual, it’s a platform you might want to be on. It can also be used for lead generation.
If your products or services are visual, post photographs of your work to get leads. But even if you’re selling your expertise, it’s still possible to generate leads. Just do something like what Sue Zimmerman has done below: Offer a freemium / lead magnet for your Instagram profile link.
15) Use landing pages.
Don’t just send people to your site’s homepage. That will get them to your site, but you’ll just be dumping them on a page that’s got way too many distractions. You’ll get more leads if you send people to a landing page that’s customized for them… perhaps a page tailored to the social media platform they came from.
If you’re really resistant to sending people to landing pages, at least send them to an appropriate section page on your site.
Back to you
Do you know of other ways to get leads from social media? Come on, show off for just once. Share your tip in the comments.
If you’ve got any other thoughts, digs or ideas about getting more leads from social media, we’d love to hear them. Who knows… maybe you’ll get a lead from leaving a comment here.