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.
Why is it important to think about how to generate leads on social media? Consider that 90 percent of top decision-makers say they never respond to cold calls. On the other hand, 76 percent of buyers are ready to have a conversation on social media.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of lead generation using social media specifically is the ability to focus on highly qualified leads through advanced targeting. After all, eMarketer analysis shows that improving the quality of leads is the most significant goal for B2B marketers, while simply increasing the quantity of leads comes in third.
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.
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.
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. Host a hangout, webinar, or live video
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.
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.