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Social media lead generation is the act of using one or multiple social networks to source leads for your business. Marketers typically post content or run ads to their target audience, but salespeople can also participate by engaging with potential leads on the platform. Once businesses choose their networks, they often follow a sequence of free strategies and then include paid ones to boost those efforts, though it's possible to implement certain strategies individually.
The five best social media platforms for lead generation are Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. Your ideal choice depends primarily on where your customers are most active, but there are other factors to take into account, like whether you’re a B2B or B2C business, the bandwidth of your marketing team, and whether you want to use outbound or inbound lead generation methods. That said, let’s help you narrow down your options.
Here are the best social media platforms and who they’re right for:
Facebook accounts for 72% of all social media traffic, making it good for B2B and B2C companies of all sizes and industries that want to generate leads through inbound marketing tactics. However, it is far less effective for direct outreach methods. Read more below.
LinkedIn is most effective for B2B businesses selling to other business professionals and company decision makers. Salespeople can directly reach out to people on the platform. B2C companies should look elsewhere. Read more below.
B2C companies using inbound tactics and selling visually appealing products find success here, especially if they are in the DIY, food, or fashion space. B2B companies might want to divert resources elsewhere unless your product lends itself to graphics. Read more below.
B2B and B2C companies with audiences who crave informative or entertaining content will see success here. It’s mostly for inbound lead generation, but you can also tweet directly at promising leads. Read more below.
Instagram is best suited for B2C brands. Ecommerce stores find a lot of success on this platform, as do sellers in the fashion, beauty, and travel industries. Read more below.
Instead of being a jack of all trades, direct your social media lead generation strategies to just one or two social networks at first. Once you master them, you can start to add others to the mix if you expect them to add value to your lead generation plan. Throughout this article, we’ll help you determine which social platforms have the potential value for your business and how to get the most out of the network you choose.
Choosing the right social media platform will help you to get the best ROI for the time and money invested. To find the best platform, first find out where your audience is most active. Next, check to see if competitors are using those networks and getting results. Lastly, determine if the network will work to achieve your lead generation needs and decide if it’s worth taking on the endeavor.
Here are the specific steps that'll help determine which platform is best for you:
Now that you know how to assess the best platform for you, let’s go through each network and learn which types of businesses can expect the best results. We’ll also give you the free and paid strategies for each. Keep in mind that many of the strategies, regardless of network, include a lead magnet that you’ll offer to your leads in return for their contact information.
Who Should Use It: B2C marketers looking for access to a large audience that they can turn into a following and convert into leads through inbound marketing strategies.
Facebook lead generation is the process of using inbound marketing strategies, both free and paid, on Facebook to generate quality leads. It’s mostly for B2C marketers, but B2B companies can also find success on the network. Marketers generate these leads by first using free methods like building a business profile page, posting helpful content, and creating private groups, and then by supercharging those efforts with ad campaigns.
Check out the top free and paid Facebook lead generation strategies to determine if it's right for you, then read our full breakdown of Facebook lead generation strategies and steps:
The free Facebook lead generation strategies revolve around growing your Facebook business page’s following by sharing articles and posting educational updates. Once in a while, you can make a post promoting a lead magnet, either on the newsfeed or in a private Facebook group you’ve built. Potential leads can download it in return for their contact information.
Here are the sequential strategies for generating free leads on Facebook:
Marketers pay to generate leads on Facebook by running boosted posts, PPC ads, and Facebook Messenger ads, typically in that order. These paid strategies help businesses reach more non-followers and convert them into leads. They can also help you gain more followers because people can see the boosted post or ad, head to your business page, and follow it.
Below are the different paid strategies you can use to support your lead generation:
Facebook’s free strategies can be used as a sequential way to build an organic following, grow trust with them, and offer them a lead magnet to convert them into leads. To supercharge your organic efforts, consider adding one of the four paid methods for a blended approach.
Who Should Use It: B2B sales professionals looking to book meetings with business decision makers from a personal profile, and B2B marketers running advertisements.
LinkedIn lead generation is the process of engaging with business professionals on LinkedIn and converting them into leads. Typically, individual B2B salespeople focus on enacting the free strategies like direct outreach while B2B marketers take on the paid strategies like running ads. It’s often best to start with the free strategies and enact them sequentially and then start layering on paid ones, but you can also pick out and use your favorite few strategies from each type.
Take a look at the free and paid strategies for LinkedIn, then check out our full guide on LinkedIn lead generation, including inbound marketing and social selling or prospecting:
To generate leads on LinkedIn, salespeople first create and optimize a personal profile and start building authority and relationships with their target audience by posting updates and publishing articles that their audience will find helpful and insightful. They then can start connecting with ideal leads they’ve interacted with on the platform, and direct message them to grow the relationship and pitch an offer.
Below are the best free LinkedIn lead generation strategies to try in order:
There are four main paid strategies to automate your LinkedIn lead generation: sponsored content, sponsored InMail, LinkedIn lead gen forms, and Sales Navigator. They’re excellent for expanding the reach of your offer and growing your following.
More specifically, below are the best paid LinkedIn lead generation strategies:
Whereas Facebook marketers use a brand profile, salespeople on LinkedIn act from a personal profile, making it a better place to form the human connections that are necessary in B2B sales. However, marketers can still operate from behind a curtain on LinkedIn using paid strategies, and the best overall strategy may be to use a blended approach.
Who Should Use It: B2C marketers who want to gain organic traffic to their lead magnets from a picture-based search engine, especially those who sell mainly to women since they make up around 77% of total Pinterest users.
Pinterest lead generation is the act of attracting potential leads to your Pinterest content, also known as pins, and then converting them into leads on a webpage that captures contact info. Pinterest is basically a visual search engine with free SEO best practices that B2C marketers use to increase organic traffic to pins. Though you can pick individual strategies, you’ll see the best results if you sequentially follow the free strategies and then move on to the paid ones.
To determine if this is for you as well as to achieve the best results, check out the top free and paid strategies below:
The free process revolves around creating high-quality pins that answer users’ queries and drive them to a page on your website — usually an article or landing page. Users search for specific keywords and receive relevant pins. If you can create pins that answer their query better than the competition, people will click on your pin. So the free strategies relate to optimizing your profile and pins for search results performance and lead conversion.
Here are the most effective free Pinterest lead generation strategies:
To increase traffic to your pins, you can create and run Pinterest ads. This is the only real paid Pinterest lead generation strategy, aside from hiring a social media lead generation company to run Pinterest ad campaigns for you. These Pinterest ads are promoted pins that will be placed where your audience is most likely to see them. The pins you've chosen to promote will appear in your target audience's home feed, category feeds, and relevant search results.
Once you set all this up and your pins start to rank and get added to other boards, leads come in passively, and you can start focusing on creating more boards, tracking your results, and finetuning it. For a closer look at Pinterest’s strategies, check out Campaign Monitor’s guide to Pinterest lead generation.
Who Should Use It: B2C and B2B brands looking for a place to interact with buyers using short blurb-like statements and questions. Salespeople can also create personal accounts to engage in niche-relevant conversations and build authority as an expert.
Twitter lead generation is the process of sourcing leads on the Twitter platform. B2C and B2B marketers primarily generate leads on Twitter by growing a following through posting interesting tweets their target audience would enjoy. Businesses often start by enacting the free strategies in a specific order and then tacking on paid strategies like Twitter ads to reach even more customers.
Take a look at the free and paid strategies below to determine if this method is for you:
There are two parts to a free lead generation strategy on Twitter: inbound lead generation through lead-catching tweets and direct outreach. Depending on your audience, you can use both or choose one. A B2C company might focus more on inbound marketing, while a B2B company will prioritize starting conversations with industry decision makers.
Here are the free Twitter strategies in order for generating high-quality leads:
Twitter ads are promoted tweets that appear on the feeds of people who aren’t following you. These promoted tweets help you grow your follower base and reach more potential buyers. To do it, you first choose your target audience by filtering for interests, demographics, and more. Then, you optimize the visibility of your message by targeting relevant keywords. Finally, you will blast your high-value tweet off to the right people.
You only pay when users follow your account or retweet, like, reply to, or click on your promoted tweet. To learn more about how to set up a paid Twitter lead generation strategy, read WordStream’s article on how to use Twitter ads to generate leads.
These free and paid strategies should help you grow your Twitter following for your business and personal account and convert more of them into leads. For more in-depth explanations of clever strategies, read OptinMonster’s article on how to generate leads on Twitter.
Who Should Use It: B2C brands with aesthetically pleasing products like jewelry, food, clothing, real estate, or end-products like a landscaping project since Instagram is a highly visual platform. B2B businesses can use it to give potential buyers a behind-the-scenes look into their operations, thereby building trust.
Instagram lead generation is the process of attracting and converting leads on Instagram. B2C, and sometimes B2B, marketers first generate leads for free by creating an Instagram business profile, publishing valuable content to grow a following, and within that content asking them to take certain actions, in that order. Marketers then use paid methods, such as Instagram lead ads, to aid them in that mission.
Take a quick dive into the best free and paid Instagram lead generation strategies for growing your professional following:
The free strategies focus on creating a business profile and posting helpful content that gets people to follow your account. You can also interact directly with your audience by replying to their comments or tagging them in your posts. Most of your content will serve the purpose of building trust with your audience by sharing educational and inspiring content, while a small portion will promote your offer.
Here are the best free strategies for generating leads on Instagram:
Instagram lead ads are the main effective paid strategy for sourcing Instagram leads. These ads allow you to collect lead information such as email addresses directly on the platform. You offer them something of value in your post, and to receive it they fill in the information you ask for. To use these ads, you need a business page. Alternatively, you can also run the basic story, photo, or video ads or pay to promote your posts to your target audience.
To create ads, go to your Ads Manager, select create, choose an objective, and fill in the details of your ad set. For more specifics, read Oberlo’s article on how to create and run Instagram ads.
According to Facebook, 90% of Instagram users follow a business. If your profile consistently provides valuable content, there’s no reason why your target audience members won’t follow yours. For more, head over to Hootsuite’s article explaining how to get more leads on Instagram, where you’ll find breakdowns of highly effective Instagram lead generation tactics.
Social media lead gen tools represent any software solutions that help businesses run their free and paid strategies on social networks. They often help you manage and track paid ad campaigns or streamline your social media content posting. Below are three of the most effective tools for generating leads: AdEspresso, SocialPilot, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
AdEspresso is a tool that helps you create and manage ad campaigns across Facebook and Instagram all in one place. Users can also use its analysis tools to gain insights into which ads are doing the best and the reason why, enabling you to consistently tweak and enhance your strategies. The tool starts at $49 per month and is best for small and medium-sized businesses looking to more easily manage their paid strategies on Facebook and Instagram.
SocialPilot is a posting tool starting at $42.50 per month that helps businesses manage their social media posts and create more effective ones. With the bulk upload feature, users can schedule hundreds of social media posts ahead of time. And its content curation feature makes it easy to find relevant topics that will get engagement from your audience, so you can create better posts. Also use its analytics to see what’s working.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a tool that salespeople can use to manage their LinkedIn lead generation activities. Sellers can use its advanced filtering capabilities to generate lists of companies and decision makers that fit their customer profiles. And then, using InMail, they can send leads full-length messages, even if they aren’t connected with them. The tool starts at $79.99 per month, so it’s best for salespeople doing a lot of outreach on LinkedIn.
In addition to the software above, you might find a social media-focused CRM helpful for lead generation and management. Overall, these tools are helpful if you'd like to do social media lead generation yourself. If you don't, there are companies out there to help you, which we list below:
Social media advertising agencies will create social media lead generation strategies and campaigns and then enact and track them for you so that you can focus on other aspects of your business. Below are three of the best agencies out there: MuteSix, LYFE Marketing, and Sculpt.
MuteSix is a digital marketing agency that creates and manages data-driven marketing campaigns across various social media platforms. They’re known for their ability to create eye-catching visual ads in a photo, video, or image form, making them perfect for businesses that want to show off their products to potential leads. Their management fees start at $3,000 per month, and businesses need an ad spend of at least $20,000 per month.
LYFE Marketing is a social media management agency that specializes in creating and running personalized ad campaigns or content posting campaigns (the free strategies we’ve mentioned) across various social media platforms. Their packages are affordable, starting at $1,150 per month, making them great for smaller businesses looking to outsource their social media lead generation.
Sculpt is a B2B social media advertising agency that offers the traditional social ad campaign setup and management along with other one-off project options such as a product launch ad campaign or an audit of your current social media strategy. For the ongoing ad management, they charge a $3,500 monthly fee for ad spends under $15,000 per month. This is the best option for B2B companies looking to enact lead generation plans on LinkedIn or Facebook.
Outsourcing your social media lead generation to professional agencies is often a great way to save your team time and ensure results.
Regardless of which social media platform you’re using, there are some best practices you can follow to optimize your social lead generation efforts. These tips include leveraging lead ads, posting engaging content, partnering with influencers, and more.
Flash deals and discount codes are great ways to inspire your audience to take action. By highlighting the discount in bold text or large font, you can stop people in their tracks as they scroll through their feed. Also, when you include a time constraint, you just make it all the more tempting to click on the offer.
Collect contact information directly on the platform with LinkedIn lead gen forms or with Instagram or Facebook lead ads, which require little effort from the lead. For instance, on Facebook, all they have to do is click on the call-to-action button. It will prompt them to fill out a form, which will be auto-populated with information in Facebook’s database, and then submit it.
Typically, social media algorithms favor and spread posts that get the most engagement from their users. Make your posts engaging, and therefore more visible, by running giveaways that require users to comment on or like the post to enter the pot or by asking open-ended questions about contentious issues that will spark a civilized debate.
Gated content is any resource that requires a user to give you some piece of information in order to access the content — webinars, ebooks, etc. They're great for lead generation. Post a description of the valuable resource and link out to its landing page, where users can fill out the form to retrieve it. If you are planning to pay to promote posts, prioritize the gated content, otherwise known as lead magnets.
Social media retargeting works by offering promotions through ads on a social platform to leads who have visited your website and added something to their cart, viewed a product, or purchased other products. A tool like Criteo can help you run these retargeting campaigns across social channels.
Post case studies about how a customer has used your product or service to their advantage. This helps you build credibility with your followers and makes them more likely to buy from you down the line. For an even more personal touch, you could also post testimonial videos of clients talking about the positive impact you’ve had on their lives or business.
Find social media influencers with a following similar to your target audience and start working with them to promote your product. This is a great way to reach new potential customers. Once a partnership is made, the influencer will promote your product or service to their followers. Typically, the greater the following an influencer has, the more they charge per promotion.
Social media listening is the act of tracking mentions of your brand or other keywords across social media platforms. You can then analyze the data to find lead generation opportunities. For example, if someone mentions how unhappy they are with a competitor, you can reach out and offer them a free trial of your service. To start listening, first get a social media listening tool.
Hashtags are specific and unique keywords that increase the visibility of your relevant posts. Using strategic hashtags that relate to the post and the interests of your target audience will help leads find the post, whether it’s in a discover page, search results page, or their home newsfeed. Also, use trending hashtags to reach more people and join a conversation about a news story.
Talk to your audience in real-time with a live stream. Followers can tune into and listen to you as you answer live questions posted in the comment section, give a free demo, or teach them something they want to learn about. This is a great way to build a personal connection with your followers so they’ll be more warmed up to accept your offer and become leads later on.
B2B businesses can generate leads using various social media platforms, but they’ll find the most success with LinkedIn, where individual sales reps can connect with decision makers, share useful content, and, after enough trust is built, ask them to take a meeting. Marketers can also use the LinkedIn platform to run advertisements to business professionals, thereby meeting them in a virtual space where they’re eager to learn about ways to improve their businesses.
It depends on many factors, but there’s a process to follow to choose the optimal social media platform for your business. Start by figuring out where your audience is active. Narrow it down to a few platforms and then see if your competitors are running lead gen strategies there to their success. Lastly, make sure the platforms would work to achieve your specific lead gen goals. A business wanting to attract leads with visuals would choose Instagram over LinkedIn.
Social media platforms offer a lot of opportunities for businesses looking for high-quality online lead generation. Your ideal platforms depend on, first, where your audience is active, and, second, your personal preferences and business goals. Remember, it is best to be amazing at two platforms than mediocre at five. So, pick one or two, create a profile, and start posting content that your audience loves. Trust and familiarity will bloom, and leads should start to pour in.