If you’re like many small business owners, you have a love/hate relationship with social media.
While it provides opportunities for you to get connected with your target market, you’re not always sure that you’re really connecting. It takes a lot of time just to get posts live, and the engagement with those posts can be hit or miss.
Ultimately, the one main reason you dislike social media may be that you aren’t seeing results. Connecting with customers sounds nice, but you aren’t seeing social media turn leads into customers — which makes it pretty hard to prioritize social media over your other marketing efforts.
So let’s break down what you can do to generate leads for your business through social media. We’ll cover the big five (Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn), but these can spark ideas for a variety of other social networks as well.
How to generate leads through… Facebook
With 1.28 billion monthly users, Facebook is the platform that many people think of when they think of social media. But don’t let that wide reach let you think that your approach on Facebook has to be quite general.
Method #1: Advertisements
If you invest in pay-per-click advertising, it’s worth it to look into Facebook advertising as well. While PPC ads can cost anywhere from $0.30 to $25 per click, the typical Facebook ad costs just $0.28 per click.
Facebook also gives you a ton of options for narrowing your reach. Since they’re a social platform first, they’re constantly collecting useful information about their users. You can use this information to target your ads to find higher quality leads than you might find in PPC.
For instance, Facebook allows you to target ads by: location, age, language, relationship status, education level, field of study, school, employers, job title, income, net worth, industry, home type, expat status, finances, spending habits, purchase behavior, homeownership status, office type, ethnic affinity, generation, age of children, number of children, parental lifestyle, political affiliation, recent life events, type of car, friends, charity involvement, mobile device type, events attended, and so much more.
Imagine how many of these attributes you could use to hone in on the exact type of customer that you’re trying to attract. Curious to learn more about advertising through Facebook? Check out this blog.
Method #2: Exclusive Promotions
One great way to reward your followers for following you is to offer them exclusive access and information. It lets them feel like there’s an added bonus to engaging with you on social media.
You could give your followers exclusive access to a special promotion, like a giveaway or a special. Demonstrating that this is a Facebook-only promotion can pique your followers’ interest and give them more incentive to look into the promotion.
These promotions can come in all shapes and sizes. You could offer: a special discount on one of your items, exclusive access to an ebook, a coupon users can use on their next purchase, a contest for a big prize, or a giveaway with prizes like cash, your products, or gift cards.
You don’t have to make the promotion exclusive to your Facebook followers, either. You could make it exclusive to all of your social media followers on all channels, or you could open it up to all of your leads to try and generate more interest. We recommend trying a variety of methods to see which ones generate the most attention — and the most leads.
Method #3: Cross Promotion
Do you plan to host a webinar? Consider creating a Facebook event for the webinar and sharing it in groups that are likely to be interested. Share the link to the Facebook event in your email marketing, which will give you the opportunity to connect on Facebook with people you’ve only been able to email.
Remember that one of the best aspects of Facebook is that it’s where the majority of social media users spend a lot of time each day. They’re there to learn something new, find interesting information, see cool images, and connect with the people and brands that matter to them.
Think about which of your other marketing efforts you could cross promote on Facebook. As you build up an audience through groups, events, and direct followers, you’ll have a wider audience to appeal to with your content marketing efforts.
How to generate leads through… Instagram
It’s a common misconception that Twitter is the second biggest social media platform. Though it doesn’t lag too far behind Facebook in terms of total users, it actually only has 255 million active monthly users (putting it in fourth behind Facebook, Instagram, and Google+).
Instagram, on the other hand, has 400 million monthly active users, meaning it has the second highest count of active users behind Facebook. While that is a large audience, one of the nice things about Instagram is that its users share one common interest: a love of amazing images.
Method #1: Influencer Marketing
Instagram is about lifestyle. If you’re into travel, you follow accounts featuring exotic destinations and digital nomads. If you’re into beauty, you follow beauty gurus who offer regular hair and makeup tutorials.
Its extremely visual nature makes Instagram the perfect place for this. Users can literally picture the life that they want to live by following accounts of people who are living that life. This is what makes influencer marketing a popular lead generation tactic on Instagram.
An influencer is a person who has a large, dedicated following online. They may be a blogger or a YouTuber, or they may have built their following through social media alone. Micro influencers are people who have followings of about 1,000+ people, while some of the bigger influencers have millions of people tuning into their content every day. The proof is in the ROI: Influencer marketing is found to pack 11x more ROI than other forms of digital media.
If there’s an influencer who’s in line with your products or services, it may be worth approaching them to see if they would be willing to promote your business to their audience. While those larger influencers could cost you a fortune to work with, even the smaller influencers have an audience of hundreds or thousands of people. What could that be worth to your business?
Interesting in working with an influencer? Here’s a great guide from Shopify.
Method #2: Sponsored Posts
Similar to Facebook ads, you can sponsor posts on Instagram to reach a specific audience. Instagram also gives you the option to sponsor posts in their stories feature — a feature that works similarly to Snapchat by allowing users to watch content that expires within 24 hours.
To advertise on Instagram, you need to have a Facebook page and a Facebook ad account. If you’re wondering how to segment your Facebook ad efforts from your Instagram ad efforts, remember that 43% of mobile users aged 18 to 29 use Instagram frequently. Also, 80% of Instagram’s users are located outside the US.
Overall, you can expect a fairly similar process since Facebook owns Instagram. Instagram gives you the same targeting power in your ads, and running your ads across both platforms is pretty easy. But you may very well find completely different results between each platform.
Method #3: Think Pretty
Some Instagram users will follow a business simply because they produce beautiful visual content. It’s not uncommon for twenty somethings to follow an Instagram business page — something as simple as a bakery or a clothing store — simply because they admire the business’ aesthetics.
This is powerful information, especially if you’re a brick and mortar store and/or if your business creates tangible products that can be featured in photos. Building a consistent, themed Instagram can attract users who enjoy your page, even if they aren’t located in your city or aren’t initially considering your products.
But this builds a powerful sense of loyalty to your brand, and these users will happily be exposed to the content that you continue to push out. It’s a unique platform where visuals matter most, you can share the behind-the-scenes of your business, and young users from all over the world are willing to engage with your content simply because it looks nice.
How to generate leads through… Google+
Google+ is the platform that businesses flocked to a few years ago when they heard that having a Google+ page would affect their search engine rankings. After Google removed that feature, many of these businesses have let their Google+ pages remain stagnant. But can it be used to generate quality leads? Surely.
It has more than 300 million monthly users, making it the third most engaged platform behind Facebook and Instagram. Another surprising statistic? The “+1” button is pressed more than 5 billion times each day.
Method #1: Find Your Market
Hubspot published an article featuring 6 steps to find new leads on Google+. This article combines a lot of fragmented information found in similar articles, so we thought its tips could be the most beneficial for your small business:
- Step 1: Write down the top three keyword phrases people use to find your website in search.
- Step 2: Write down three pieces of content (yours or otherwise) that are related to the search results of your keyword phrases. This will help you figure out which content topics will be most appealing to users searching those keyword phrases found in step 1.
- Step 3: Go to your Google+ account and search your keyword phrases. This will help you find similar accounts that are already talking about these keywords.
- Step 4: Identify three people and pages that could have leads for you and follow them. Spend some time to find three high-quality accounts that line up with your main keywords.
- Step 5: Identify three communities that could have leads for you and join them. Just like in step 4.
- Step 6: Engage with the prospects you discovered on pages and in communities. Those pieces of content you identified in step 2? Use them to add value to the comment sections on these new pages you’re following. Hit “+1” for any content that’s relevant to your business, and identify and engage with regular contributors who are already interested in the keywords you found in step 1.
The idea behind this process is to build a community of people who are already publishing content that’s related to your industry. Once you find them, you can engage with their page, +1 their content, and provide helpful content that answers their questions — with the ultimate goal of leading them to become leads for your business.
Method #2: Hangouts
Google Hangouts is a tool that you can use to have direct chats and calls with other people. The one thing that most people know about Hangouts is that it facilitates calls with multiple people. This feature makes it a unique lead generation tool for your business.
Hangouts can handle calls with up to 10 people and allows you to share your screen with the audience. Hangouts also lets you record a hangout and then upload it to YouTube. Can you guess how you could use this feature to your benefit?
If you’ve never hosted a webinar before, and especially if you’re confused about how you’d even go about doing that, Hangouts could be a great tool for testing the waters in a free and simple way.
Starting a hangout with the people you connected with in method #1 will allow you to have a real-time conversation about a specific topic where you have expertise. Even if only one or two people show up, this can be super valuable for your business. It’s even more valuable when that video is added to YouTube, which you can then share with your Google+ connections to generate more views — and generate more leads.
How to generate leads through… Twitter
Though Twitter may not be the second most engaged social media platform like many people believe it to be, what it does have going for it is a very active set of active users. 71% of active Twitter users say they use the platform “several times a day,” while only 55% of Facebook users report visiting Facebook several times a day.
What’s more: 37% of Twitter users say they post or retweet several times a day, so they aren’t merely sitting back and digesting content. Because Twitter encourages shares through its retweet feature and its active users are frequently retweeting content, there’s a great opportunity for your business’ content to be shared well beyond your own followers.
Method #1: Twitter Cards
One of the most popular pieces of content that businesses share on social media is their own blog posts. Because Twitter is ideal for sharing bite-sized pieces of information featuring compelling data and interesting questions, it’s one of the best platforms for sharing your blogs.
Another reason it’s a great place to share your blogs is its Twitter Cards feature, which makes your tweet more visual and, therefore, more noticeable to your followers. Twitter offers several varieties of Twitter Cards, including:
- Summary card with a title, description, and thumbnail
- Summary card with a large image
- App card with a direct download to a mobile app
- Player card that can provide video, audio, and other media
To use Twitter Cards, you validate your website with Twitter and add Twitter Card metadata to your site. You’ll choose your card type and tweak the sample code provided. Before you can publish your Twitter Card, you’ll run it through a validator tool and get approval from Twitter.
Method #2: Lead Generation Cards
Twitter knows that businesses use their platform in hopes of generating leads. This is why they created lead generation cards as part of their Twitter Cards feature. These cards are created with the specific goal of turning Twitter users into qualified leads for your business.
With a lead generation card enabled, a user can view your regular tweet, expand it, and see the information about your offer. If they choose to click on your call to action, you’ll receive their name, Twitter handle, and email address so that you can follow up.
How to generate leads through… LinkedIn
If your target market is other businesses, it’s very likely that you should try LinkedIn for lead generation. 79% of its users are over the age of 35, and they come to LinkedIn for professional conversations and helpful networking.
Method #1: SlideShare
Where does your expertise lie? What could you easily create a PowerPoint presentation about? If you want to generate leads through LinkedIn, consider making a SlideShare about that topic.
SlideShare is an online presentation tool, where users upload their presentation slides and allow anyone to click through and read them. Some businesses treat it like blogging, while others recycle content from their blogs to promote it across platforms.
SlideShare has more than 159 million page views per month, so there’s a big opportunity to tap into an engaged audience who could be interested in your content. If your presentation is good enough, it can even be featured on the SlideShare homepage, guaranteeing you a ton more views.
The key to a good SlideShare presentation is to dig deep into a topic and make it visual. Users who come to SlideShare are often ready to digest several slides of content, so this is not the place to just skim the top of the surface. Show your expertise, cover the topic in-depth, and provide a compelling call to action that provides users the next step.
Method #2: Groups
Similar to the approach on Google+, you can use LinkedIn’s many groups to generate leads for your business. Whatever industry you serve, there’s bound to be multiple groups where people interested in that industry meet.
Also similar to the Google+ approach, you’ll want to go into it armed with meaningful content and real contributions. If you simply look for groups so that you can blast promotional content about your business, you aren’t going to see the results you’re looking for.
Use LinkedIn’s groups to “find your people” — whether that’s other small business owners, people who work in your industry, businesses in related industries, or even just professionals you look up to.
Once you join a group, be a part of the conversation. Ask questions, answer peoples’ questions, and share your own pieces of content when relevant and helpful.
Combine efforts for a bigger ROI
For any of these lead generation tactics to work, you’ll of course already have an account on that particular platform. While you test out these lead generation strategies for your business, you can also post content to your social media accounts for organic engagement.
Then, when you combine all of your efforts across your social media channels with your other marketing efforts — and especially if you cross promote your other content on your social media platforms — you have the potential to generate many high-quality leads for your business. Who doesn’t want that?