Social Media Lead Generation: The Ultimate Guide

Check out our ultimate guide on the best platforms for social media lead generation, including the best options and strategies for you.

Social media lead generation is the process of using social media platforms to source quality leads. Some of the most effective platforms for generating leads are Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. Before diving into the different strategies, it is critical to understand which platform works best for your specific business and industry. Then, once you've chosen one or two, read our sections on how to use them to generate leads.

How to Choose the Right Social Media Platform

It's better to focus on generating leads on one or two social platforms rather than spreading yourself too thin by trying to generate leads on all five. So, let’s help you choose which platform is right for your business. From there, we'll give you a brief overview of each platform to verify your choice, and then dive into each in more detail.

Here are the specific steps to determine which platform is best for you: 

  1. Figure out if Your Audience Is Active on the Network: Check to see if the audience you want to reach is active on the network. Here is a helpful guide to figure out who uses which platforms
  2. Check to See Where Your Competitors Are Having Success: Look to see if other brands like yours are posting frequently from their account on the network. Are they receiving engagement, likes, and comments? Do they have a large number of followers?
  3. Determine if the Network Fits Your Lead Generation Needs: For instance, if you want to book meetings through direct outreach, LinkedIn is more effective than Facebook. If you want to use photos to grow your audience, Instagram is better than Twitter. 
  4. Ask Yourself if You Want to Take on This Initiative: Make sure you will enjoy the associated lead generation strategies on the network. Some of the associated strategies, especially the free ones, require consistent effort. For example, if taking photos sounds like a pain, shy away from Instagram and Pinterest.

Now that you know how to assess whether a specific platform will help you, let’s go through each one and learn which types of businesses can expect the best results from them. This way, you'll know which lead generation strategy works well on which platform.

Top 5 Social Media Platforms for Lead Generation

The best social media platforms for lead generation are Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. Let’s help you narrow down your options. Here are the best social media platforms and who they’re right for:

  • Facebook: Facebook is good for both B2B and B2C companies, of all sizes, who want to generate leads through inbound marketing tactics such as targeted ads. However, it is ineffective for direct outreach methods. Read more below.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is most effective for B2B businesses selling to other business professionals. B2C companies should look elsewhere. Read more below. 
  • Pinterest: B2C companies selling products that are visually appealing will 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 well to graphics. Read more below. 
  • Twitter: B2B and B2C companies with audiences who crave informative or entertaining content will see success here. It’s mostly for inbound lead gen, but you can also tweet directly at promising leads. Read more below. 
  • Instagram: Instagram is best suited for B2C brands. Ecommerce stores see a lot of success on this platform, as do sellers in the auto, fashion, beauty, and travel industries. Read more below.

With this high-level understanding in mind, let's now dive into each platform in detail. Feel free to read each for an in-depth overview of the landscape, or jump down to your chosen social media lead generation platform.

Facebook Lead Generation

1.6 billion Facebook users are connected to a small business on the platform. That’s a good sign. Businesses can turn users into leads through both free and paid strategies. The free strategies involve creating a business page, posting relevant content, and running a private Facebook group. The paid strategies consist of running different types of Facebook ads. You can treat the following strategies like a menu of options, but they work best when used together.

Free Facebook Lead Generation Strategies

Free Facebook lead generation strategies revolve around your business profile rather than your personal profile. Essentially, you are trying to grow your following by sharing helpful and valuable content that your targeted audience will enjoy. If they do, the content will drive them to your website or get them to take a specific action on the platform, such as a sign-up or download. 

Here are the free strategies to follow:

Optimize Your Business Facebook Page

First, you must create your business Facebook page. This page will act as a landing page for your business. Users who visit the page can like it. From then on, your content will appear on their news feeds. They can also check out your main website from your business page. To create a successful business page add on-brand cover and profile photos, include a CTA button, and write a business description that articulates who you help and how.

Example optimized Facebook profile
Example optimized business page

Post Articles & Other Relevant Content

On Facebook, post engaging content that gets potential buyers to like your business page. If they do, they will see more of your content and hopefully engage with it. After enough trust has been built with the user, they will start engaging with your CTAs. Then, you can drive them to your website or landing page, or get them to take an immediate action on the platform.

Start a Private Facebook Group

Create a private Facebook group where users must be invited to join. In the group, you can post exciting offers, premium content, and other posts that only members get to see. It can serve as an education center and a fan club, and even create a community around your brand. This will help you build a loyal customer base and uncover new leads.

Paid Facebook Lead Generation Strategies

In addition to the free strategies above, you can run paid ads, of which there are four types: lead ads, Messenger ads, PPC ads, and boosted posts. Each type is targeted to users based on their location, demographic, profile, and behavioral information. Through ads, you can either capture lead information directly on the platform or drive users to your website or landing page. Let's look at each type in more detail.

Facebook Lead Ads

These ads come equipped with an embedded form that captures users’ contact information directly on the platform. The benefit here is the ability to capture inbound lead information without sending them off-platform to a third-party website. For more information on this new ad type, you can check out our how-to guide on Facebook lead ads.

example facebook lead ad
Example Facebook lead ad

Facebook Messenger Ads

These ads are designed to create conversations in users’ Messenger apps. The ads can appear in their news feed and open to Messenger or appear as messages in a user’s inbox.

Example facebook messenger ad
Messenger ad that opened into the Messenger app

Facebook PPC Ads

These are the image, video, or carousel display ads that show up on a user’s news feed. They drive traffic to your website or landing page.

Example Facebook ppc ad
Example Facebook PPC ad

Boosted Posts

These are existing organic posts on your timeline that you pay to have promoted to your target audience. This will help expand your reach and is a good strategy if you create high-value content that you already share with your audience.

bookmarks

Additional Reading:

For an in-depth look at generating quality leads on Facebook, check out our ultimate guide on Facebook lead generation, including a detailed breakdown of the best free and paid strategies.

LinkedIn Lead Generation

Four out of five LinkedIn members are responsible for business decisions. Therefore, the platform is best for B2B leads through direct outreach, and it also aids B2B inbound lead generation. To turn businesspeople into leads, you can combine free methods like optimizing your profile and sharing content with paid ones like running social ads. We recommend sellers start with the free strategies and layer on ads to scale their efforts.

Free LinkedIn Lead Generation Strategies

Free LinkedIn strategies can be used for social selling or inbound lead generation, or both. Either way, start by optimizing your LinkedIn personal profile. Then, engage with your target audience. Do this by posting content like articles or daily updates. Or, message potential leads directly through InMail to kick off relationships. After they grow familiar with you, they might take your desired action, whether that’s accepting a call or scheduling a demo.

Optimize Your Professional Profile

Your professional profile will be the first place your leads go if they enjoy the content you posted or want to connect with you. So, you must optimize it. Your profile should signal to your customers that you are an expert in your field and that you help customers like them. Use a professional profile picture and a tagline that clearly states who you help and how using this formula: {I help [X] accomplish [Y] through [Z].}

Zach Ciliotta-Young linkedin headshot example
Example LinkedIn profile

Post Relevant Content

After creating your profile, you need to start engaging with your target audience. Do this by posting relevant and educational content. That could be an article you wrote about an industry trend or best practice. Or, it could be a daily update in the form of a 150-word insight you had about a problem your customers often face. The more consistently you post, the more your audience will recognize you as an industry expert, and the more leads you will generate.

Be Active in Industry Groups

Joining industry groups is a great way to find and engage with potential buyers. Look for industry groups that are relevant to your niche and join them. For instance, if you sell software to product managers, join a product development group. Once you have joined a few, start posting helpful content into those groups. Also, interact with the members by commenting and liking their posts.

Join relevant groups
Example industry groups

Connect With & Message Prospects

There will certainly be LinkedIn users that you want to connect with and direct message. These will be people you found through research or LinkedIn activity who fit your ideal customer profile. A rule of thumb is that the more familiar they are with you, the better chance you have of connecting with them. So it is best to try to warm them up through your other LinkedIn engagement methods described above before trying to connect.

When you do attempt a connection, your ultimate goal is usually to book an initial call, but it could also be to get them to download an ebook or attend a webinar. To succeed in your LinkedIn direct outreach, make sure to slowly build up to asking them for a meeting. Start by telling them why you want to connect in a connection request message. Then, for a few weeks, send them interesting content. When you have built enough rapport, make your ask:

From your posts, I can tell you spend a ton of time {job responsibility}. I gotta ask, what software do you use for {task A}?”

Paid LinkedIn Lead Generation Strategies

There are three main paid strategies to automate your LinkedIn lead generation: sponsored content, sponsored InMail, and LinkedIn lead gen forms. You can use these as standalone LinkedIn lead generation methods, but we recommend using them alongside some of the free strategies mentioned above.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored content consists of native ads that show up on your targeted audience’s news feed and drive traffic to your website.

Squarespace Sponsored content
Example sponsored content

Sponsored InMail

These are personalized messages automatically sent to the inboxes of potential leads you are not yet connected with.

Example inmail ad
Example sponsored InMail

LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms

These are forms that collect lead info and are embedded into your sponsored content or InMail. You give them something (e.g., an ebook) in return for their filling out the form.

Linkedin lead gen form
Example LinkedIn lead gen form

The benefit of LinkedIn lead gen forms is the ability to collect lead contact information without needing to send people off-platform. For more information on this newer ad type, check out our article on LinkedIn lead gen forms.

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Additional Reading:

For an in-depth look at generating quality leads on LinkedIn, check out our detailed guide on LinkedIn lead generation, including a complete breakdown of the best free and paid strategies.

Pinterest Lead Generation

Pinterest lead generation in the process of using Pinterest to attract potential customers to your Pinterest content, also known as pins. Once they click on your pins, you attempt to drive them to a specific webpage. Pinterest is basically a visual search engine with free SEO best practices you use to increase organic traffic to your pins. The paid strategies allow you to pay to promote pins as an advertisement.

Free Pinterest Lead Generation Strategies

The free strategy revolves around creating high-quality images called pins that answer users’ queries and drive them to a page on your website — usually an article or landing page. Pinterest is like Google in that it is essentially a visual search engine. 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.

For instance, in the search bar users might search “plants that don’t need a lot of sunlight.” A business that sells gardening supplies might capitalize on this query and create a pin that is an image of a plant that requires little sunlight, like any of these:

Sample Pinterest Pin
Example Pinterest search results

From there, the user will click on one that looks most like it will provide them the information they desire. They might end up here:

A pin that drives traffic to a blog post
Example pin that drives traffic to a blog

They will then see the option to click on an article or a website link. Where you direct the lead depends on your marketing strategy. In this example, the user is directed to the company’s blog post. 

To generate as much free organic traffic to your pins as possible, use these best practices:

  • Create Branded Boards: Boards are categories of multiple pins. A board on social media strategies might hold 151 pins about different social media strategies. When starting out, create four to five branded boards that reflect what your business is all about. These boards should clearly state what users will find in them. 
  • Link to the Right Pages: Think of Pinterest pins as the first step in your marketing funnel. With each pin, you can link out to a relevant page on your website. That could be a product page, article page, or a landing page. 
  • Optimize Pin Descriptions With Keywords: By optimizing your pin descriptions with keywords that your audience is likely to use, your pins will receive organic traffic. If you wanted to rank well for questions about car repair, you’d put it in your description.

Paid Pinterest Lead Generation Strategies

To increase the traffic driven to your pins, you can run Pinterest ads. These are basically promoted pins that will be placed where your audience is most likely to see them. The pins you have chosen to promote will appear in your target audience's home feed, category feeds, and relevant search results.

Pinterest Ad
Example Pinterest ad

For more information on Pinterest lead generation, check out this guide from OptinMonster on how to get more leads with Pinterest.

Twitter Lead Generation

The Twitter population is wealthier, younger, and more educated than the average American. Whether you are a B2B or B2C brand, if that sounds like your audience, read on. The methods for turning them into leads are based on growing a following by posting interesting tweets they enjoy. In the tweets, you can include CTAs that get leads to download an ebook or visit your homepage. To turn up the heat, you can also use paid strategies like Twitter ads.

Free Twitter Lead Generation Strategies

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 the inbound marketing section, while a B2B company will prioritize starting conversations with industry decision makers.

Post Lead-Catching Tweets

You must consistently post entertaining and valuable content to your feed. First and foremost, these tweets should be about topics that your audience finds interesting. For example, if your target market consists of sales professionals, you could share a blog post about new sales strategies. From there, leads might click on the link and end up on the blog post, where you can then capture their lead information.

A great way to lead into your tweet is with a question. When people see a question, they usually feel the urge to find the answer. So, you might ask “What happened to cold calling?” and then link to your blog post or landing page below.

Example tweet
Example engaging tweet

Engage With Specific Individuals

If you have some specific leads or decision makers you want to interact with, do so on the platform. Like and comment on their tweets. Tweet at them. To do this effectively, you need to pay attention to what these people care about. You can do that by social listening. Pay attention to what they tweet. If they mentioned their love for a specific baseball player, and you have something interesting to add, join in on their conversation and mention them {@ Twitter handle}.

From there, you can start building a relationship. Eventually, you can ask for permission to direct message the lead. Then you can try to book a sales call or get them to download a specific piece of lead-generating content. Once you have initiated a relationship, the options are endless.

Paid Twitter Lead Generation Strategies

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, maximize the relevancy of your message by targeting keywords in people’s tweets.

Finally, you will blast your high-value tweet off to the right people. And you only pay when users follow your account or retweet, like, reply to, or click on your promoted tweet.

Twitter ads
Example of Twitter ads

To learn more, check out this in-depth article from Wordstream on Twitter lead generation.

Instagram Lead Generation

The goal with Instagram is to grow an audience, build trust with that audience, and eventually turn them into leads and customers. With Instagram, you can do this for free by creating an Instagram business profile, publishing valuable content, and within that content asking your audience to take certain actions, such as clicking on a link to your online store or landing page. You can also use paid methods, such as Instagram lead ads, to aid you in that mission.

Free Instagram Lead Generation Strategies

The free strategies focus on posting helpful content that drives traffic to your landing pages or website. You can also interact directly with your audience by replying to their comments or tagging them in your posts. Also, not all of your content has to ask something of your followers. Much of it can serve the purpose of building trust with them by sharing educational and inspiring content. Here are the two main free strategies for generating leads on Instagram.

Post Engaging Content

To grow your following, you need to post engaging content nearly every day. First, you need to know what type of content your customers enjoy. If you sell hiking apparel, you might share blog posts about hiking adventures or photos of mountains. Here are some tips for creating content your audience will enjoy:  

  • Use High-Quality Images: To get the user to stop at your post, you need an image that evokes a certain emotion, whether that’s excitement or awe. 
  • Tell Visual Stories: Instagram gives you a chance to tell stories through beautiful pictures. Help your audience get to know your brand and what it stands for. Through authenticity, you can give your buyers the human element they want from their brands. 
  • Use Hashtags to Get Discovered: Use hashtags that highlight the topic of your post. That way, when people with intent relevant to your post go to their explore page, they might find your post.

Interact Directly With Your Audience

Furthermore, you can directly interact with people who comment on or like your Instagram posts. You can reply to their comments or send them a direct message. In that message, you could offer them a discount or perhaps a link to a page you think they would enjoy. Building personal relationships with your Instagram followers is a surefire way to increase lead generation.

Paid Instagram Lead Generation Strategies

Instagram lead ads are the most effective paid strategy for generating leads. These ads allow you to collect lead information such as email addresses directly on the platform. Basically, 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 Facebook business page. Alternatively, you can also run the basic story, photo, or video ads or pay to promote your posts to your target audience.

example Instagram ad
Example Instagram ad

For a deep dive into Instagram lead generation, check out Hootsuite's article on how to get more leads on Instagram.

Social Media Lead Generation Tips

No matter which platforms you decide to use, there are some universal social media lead generation tips that will help you achieve desired results for your business. Let’s go over a few.

Post Content That Sparks Engagement

Your post will reach more people if it inspires conversation and engagement because most algorithms favor these types of posts. Why? Because they keep people active on the platform. So, here are some ideas you can use to generate engaging content.

  • Run a Giveaway: Tell users that if they comment on the post, they will have a chance to win a discount or another giveaway. 
  • Ask Open-Ended Questions: This is a great way to spark conversation, especially if the question you ask is slightly contentious and summons up strong emotional responses. 
  • Share Problem-Solving Content: Share information that will help your target audience solve a specific problem.
  • Leverage Trending News: Let news and current events that your audience is following inspire some of your content. For instance, ask them about their thoughts on the events and kick-start conversation.

Promote Gated Content

Gated content is anything that requires a visitor to give you some piece of information in order to access the content. Usually, what they give is their email address. For instance, if you have a report that you know a lot of your prospects will enjoy, post it and gate it with a box asking for their email address. This will help you grow your email list and marketing capabilities. If you are planning to pay to promote posts, prioritize the gated content.

Leverage Lead Ads

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram all offer lead ads as paid options for advertising. These ads allow you to collect lead information right on the platform with very little effort for 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 autopopulated with information in Facebook’s database. Then, all they have to do is click submit. This decreases the drop-off rate.

For more information, check out our article on Facebook lead ads.

Offer Discounts & Deals

Flash deals and discount codes are great ways to galvanize your audience into 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.

Don’t Forget AIDA When Running Ads

AIDA, a time-tested advertising methodology, stands for attention, interest, desire, and action. When advertising on social media platforms you must make users feel those four things in that order. For instance, on a LinkedIn PPC ad, you might highlight a discount in red. If it’s a course you are selling, you might then write exactly what they will learn in the course.

Their interest piqued, you can spark their desire by telling them what amazing things they will be able to do with that knowledge. Lastly, you can use the call-to-action button to get them to click on a link that takes them to the course landing page. Before creating your ads, think about how you are going to evoke these four emotions.

Bottom Line: Social Media Lead Generation

Social media platforms offer a lot of opportunities for businesses looking for high-quality lead generation. Which one you choose depends on where your audience is active and what your business goals and personal preferences are. Remember, it is best to be amazing at two platforms than mediocre at all five. So, pick a couple, create your profile, and start posting content that your audience absolutely loves. Trust and familiarity will bloom, and leads will start to pour in.

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