How to Use Social Media for Lead Generation

At least 58% of marketers who have been using social media for three years or longer state that it has helped them boost sales. On average, marketers spend between four and six hours on social media each week. While marketers do struggle with lead generation and measuring ROI on social, there is no question that social media a critical piece of your marketing mix. 

“The goal is to ensure that your marketing and other business activities are aligned with your organizational objectives. You can have the best social media and content marketing in the world, but they don’t matter if your landing pages, website, and sales team don’t close the deal. Furthermore, when you approach social media and content marketing from a centralized perspective, you can maximize each content and marketing effort while minimizing costs. For example, incorporate quality ‘how-to’ information in your customer service mailings.” – Heidi Cohen (@HeidiCohen),, Chief Content Officer


Where do you start with social media? It is easy to turn to the most popular channels – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn – and assume that you’re doing your job correctly. While it is important to use these three channels, don’t neglect niche channels such as Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and SlideShare. If you’re not sure where to start, get to know your audience a little better.

“It’s all about research. You have to know who your audience and influencers are before you start trying to target them. This usually means listening before engaging. Once you know who they are, then targeting them is a matter of providing information that is relevant.” – Stoney deGeyeter (@StoneyD),, President, Pole Position Marketing

“You want to think about where the people you want to work with are spending their time. Which tools would they be more likely to use? If your audience prefers LinkedIn, then spend time in groups devoted to your space and industry, where your potential customers are likely looking for information already. If you contribute to these communities, you have a higher chance of getting noticed by potential clients. Twitter chats are another fabulous tool for networking and prospecting. With hundreds of chats, there’s bound to be one covering your area(s) of expertise.” – Mack Collier (@MackCollier),, Social Media and Marketing Strategist


Providing consistent, high quality content for multiple social media channels, as well as a blog is no simple task. Here’s a strategy to help you maximize your content marketing time and budget:

“Create all of your content on a single topic at once. These topics can include product information, customer FAQs, how-to / tutorials, styling help, and ratings and reviews. Develop a series of pieces of content to maximize leads. Make sure that your content is contextually relevant to each social media platform and is easy to read. Skip the sales pitch and promotion or your audience will skip your content.” – Cohen (@HeidiCohen)


One way to set yourself apart from the competition is to position yourself as an expert within your field or industry. Social media and blogs are a great way to demonstrate your expertise. If you can solve a common customer problem in the process, all the better.

“For example, I want to work with companies that are looking to build ambassador programs. So I wrote this post, 10 Things to Remember When Creating a Brand Ambassador Program, to help companies get started with the process. What I found is that often after I share that post, someone will email me from a company asking if I can help them build a brand ambassador program. By creating content that helps solve that company’s problem, I am also demonstrating my expertise, which prompts them to contact me about us working together.” – Collier (@MackCollier)


As you brainstorm topics, don’t be afraid to consult with your customers. One reason that consumers use social media is to connect with a brand on a personal level. They appreciate the fact that a brand is reaching out to them and as such, will not be afraid to share their opinions.

“Begin the relationship by asking ‘How can I help?’ instead of ‘What can I sell?’ We are all so inundated with pitches from people and businesses that we’ve never heard of that we screen most of them out as background noise. People want to do business with companies that they know and trust. You have to build trust before making the pitch.

Look for an opening that gives you an opportunity to help. Answering questions in online forums is a good approach. Be honest about your shortcomings and the strength of competitors’ products. This practice will enhance your credibility enormously. Once you’ve received gratitude for the help you’ve given, ask what else you can do. The person you’re helping will feel obliged to return the favor. At that point, he or she becomes a lead. Start to steer the conversation gently in your direction.” – Paul Gillin (@pgillin),, B2B Social Media Strategist

Regularly publishing high quality content is not enough. You have to use the right strategies to keep readers coming back and participating. One key tactic is to be easily accessible.

“B2B buyers are 70% of the way through the purchase process before they contact you. This means that they’ve done their research and are close to making a decision before you know it. Therefore you must provide the information and make it findable via the variety of options that they choose.

Be accessible on social media, and make it easy for customers to contact you via social media, your website, and mobile. This means providing an active email address and a 24/7 phone number on all of your social media identities, as well as on your website and mobile options.” – Cohen (@HeidiCohen)

It is also important not to intimidate your customers. If people assume that everyone reading the article is already an expert, they are less likely to share the content and add their own input.

“The more 101-level the content, the more likely it is that readers will share opinions. Honestly, most people are smarter than they give themselves credit for. However, if your content is more basic, it’s less intimidating and more readers will feel comfortable sharing an opinion. And when they do, it’s up to you as the blogger to respond to them, thanking them for participating and then trying to keep the discussion going in order to encourage engagement.” – Collier (@MackCollier)


Above all else, you have to keep self-promotion to a minimum in order to increase lead conversions through social media. People are there to build relationships, not view advertisements.

“Many people primarily use social media as a publishing tool when they should be using it as an engagement tool. There is nothing wrong with promoting your own content, but the ratio needs to lean more heavily on engagement. Engage and promote other content first. Promote yourself second.” – deGeyeter (@StoneyD)

You also have to monitor your channel on a daily basis. A negative comment can spiral out of control very quickly. However, if you address the issue in a timely manner, you can build credibility for your brand.

“Watch what is said over social carefully. If you’re using it to foster and generate leads, you have to be careful never to offend. People are watching. They learn a lot about you by your engagement. If you turn people off, you’ll lose business.” – deGeyeter (@StoneyD)


Finally, providing the right information at the right time is key for successful lead generation. Giving customers the push that they need at certain points in the sales cycle increases the chances of closing the deal.

“Share specific information that they may need and make sure that they see it. We do this on occasion when a prospect is trying to decide between X and Y service. Usually it won’t be something that we wrote unless we send them information from at least two other sources as well. This practice isn’t about showing a potential customer how smart we are, but rather about sharing knowledge that the prospect will use to make a decision.” – deGeyeter (@StoneyD)

The formula for social media is straightforward. Listen to your customers and share information that is relevant and meaningful for them, keeping self-promotion to a minimum. It may seem obvious, but being social is key to success. Don’t be the guy hanging back in the corner of the room at the dinner party. Instead, listen more than you talk. When it’s time for you to speak, do so in a way that ultimately helps your company generate more leads.

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