For every growth strategy you develop, you also need a plan to acquire fresh and relevant leads. This can sometimes be the most challenging part of marketing your business.

The good news is social media can be your most valuable lead generation channel if you know how to use it right. With 3.6 billion people using social media worldwide, it’s the perfect channel for businesses to reach and attract leads. It’s only a matter of using the right tactics at the right time.

We’ll review some of the best ideas on how to generate sales leads through social media. Let’s take a look.

Social media lead generation: What it is and why you need it

A lead refers to any information that you can use to identify someone interested in your products or service. This could be anything from name and email address to occupation and employer details. So social media lead generation is the process of collecting new leads using social media.

Generating leads on social media can benefit both B2C and B2B marketers as it helps you identify the social media audiences that are interested in your business. This gives you the necessary leverage to target them with relevant content and offers and then convert them into paying customers.

In other words, lead generation helps you establish your business as an invaluable resource to potential customers. And social media amplifies your lead generation efforts by helping you raise brand awareness, drive website traffic and improve community engagement.

How to generate leads from social media

Now let’s find out how you can generate valuable leads using social media:

1. Launch compelling lead magnet offers

The right incentive can often compel people to freely share their information with you. For this, you’ll need to create enticing lead magnet offers that people want. This could be anything from a research report to a free tool. You could also offer discount codes, case studies, webinars, whitepapers and more.

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions promoting a free LinkedIn Insight Tag tool is an excellent example.

Forrester Tweeting out a GIF with a prediction for 2021 and encouraging people to download its Predictions 2021 report is another way to raise interest around gated content.

2. Share testimonials as social proof

Customer stories and testimonials can give you the social proof you need to acquire new leads. Showcasing how clients have benefited from your products and services to demonstrate your brand value.

According to Wyzowl, two out of three people are more likely to buy something after watching a testimonial video that demonstrates how a business, product or service has helped someone like them.

IBM often shares engaging video testimonials of how people have benefited from its products and initiatives. The following Tweet tells the story of how its P-TECH initiative is preparing a student for a career in STEM.

For a lower-lift solution, you could collect customer reviews and turn them into an animated video to share on as social proof.

3. Create targeted ads with special offers

A paid social media advertising strategy is highly effective for generating leads on social media. With this strategy, you can use the highly specific targeting options of paid social ads to show your audience offers that are tailored to capture their interest. Try promoting content on specific subject matter, special discounts and limited-time offers on your products and services through these ads.

For instance, The Economist used Instagram ads to target relevant audiences. When someone clicks on their social media ad, they get an offer for 50% off on their first 12 weeks, an enticing deal that makes the ad’s audience more likely to subscribe to the publication.

Skillshare also employs the same tactic, using social media ads to highlight specific courses and promote a 14-day free trial of the service.

4. Make the most of lead generation ads

Take your social media advertising one step further with lead gen ads. These are ads that come with pre-populated forms so people can easily finish signing up without spending too much time entering their personal information. This saves time, speeds up the lead generation process and can significantly boost your conversion rate.

In fact, Lead Gen Forms on LinkedIn have a 13% average conversion rate while landing pages see about 2.35% conversions on average. Types of lead generation ads are also available for Facebook and Instagram as well.

Here’s a LinkedIn Lead Gen Form example. The form fields are pre-filled using details that the prospect has already included on their LinkedIn profile, so the process is frictionless both for your reader to access the content easily, and for you to collect the lead information.

5. Set up sequential retargeting ads

Retargeting can further amplify your social advertising and lead generation strategy by helping you reengage lost prospects. Say someone clicked on your first ad and scrolled through the landing page but never submitted a form. You can retarget them with ads that encourage them to finish the signup process.

You can also retarget people who’ve landed on your website through search or through other referral sites. Or you can even retarget people who regularly read your blog posts but haven’t subscribed to your newsletter.

This could significantly boost your lead generation efforts because retargeted ads have a 10X better click-through rate than regular display ads.

Try setting up your retargeting ads in a sequence to get even better results. For instance, an awareness-stage ad could address common pain points and common objections. And a consideration-stage ad could use testimonials and give social proof to win people’s trust. Keep the customer journey moving forward by serving up the most relevant messaging depending on your target audience’s past behavior.

6. Leverage social media sponsorships

Instead of using paid ads, you could also attract leads from the social media content that your target audience is already consuming. Consider sponsoring shows, content and YouTube channels that are popular with your target audience.

That way, you can get a reputable content creator to talk about your brand, product or service even for just a couple of minutes. This can be much more engaging than forcing ads in front of an audience that might not even engage with it.

You can also do YouTube sponsorships like how Pixel Empire sponsored the following video from Jacksfilms.

Content creators and influencers help provide a form of social proof, and can often connect your sponsorship message seamlessly into their content, helping it reach audiences who might otherwise actively click away from an ad.

7. Host a virtual event or social media conference

Virtual conferences and events are a great way to attract a highly relevant audience while establishing your expertise and authority in the field. That means they’re also great for generating leads on social media, especially since people will need to provide their info to sign up or join the conference.

Host a virtual conference on topics that would intrigue your target audience and that relate to your brand’s area of expertise. You can use the event to discuss trending industry topics, provide actionable tips and invite influential speakers. Plus, you can generate plenty of content opportunities by posting on social media while the event is live, or repurposing content into lead magnets later.

For instance, Search Engine Journal regularly hosts the SEJ eSummit, a virtual conference that features the leading experts in digital marketing to provide an educational experience.

8. Launch a referral campaign

Referral campaigns can be highly effective in doubling your sales leads. These campaigns provide an incentive to your leads for referring their friends and/or colleagues. That means the referred people will get to learn about your products or services and potentially become additional leads.

To make this work, you could provide an attractive incentive such as a gift card, a free gift or a discount in exchange for the referral.

For example, MasterClass came up with a referral campaign that allowed people to get a free annual membership when they get one as a gift. It then promoted this campaign through social media in the form of organic posts and paid ads.

9. Make the most of social listening

Look for lead generation opportunities with effective social listening. Monitor social media conversations and see what people are saying about a certain topic or a competitor brand. This will help you identify any opportunities to generate high-quality leads for your business.

For instance, someone complaining about a competitor’s product might appreciate an alternative. And someone asking for recommendations will definitely love to hear your suggestion. On top of this, people asking about your brand and products will love your proactive approach when you step in to address their concerns.

See how the Sprout Social team stepped in when someone on Twitter asked for suggestions on a social media management platform.

You can make sure never to miss these social media lead generation opportunities with the social listening tools from Sprout. This allows you to listen for certain keywords and track brand-relevant conversations so you can step in at the right time, even when your brand isn’t mentioned by name.

Crushing your lead gen goals

With these highly effective social media lead generation ideas, you should be able to see a significant boost in your social ROI. And this will fuel overall business growth in the long run. Don’t forget to measure the impact of your lead gen efforts and look for opportunities to improve. Read our social media reporting guide to learn more about how to keep track of your performance.