Social media is immensely useful for marketers who are building a brand and interacting with customers, but many don't know how to generate online leads using social media and turn them into sales.

How is social media used?

If you're not using social media as a part of your marketing mix, you may be getting left behind.

The 2018 Yellow Social Media Report – Businesses showed us that of the businesses surveyed, 51% of small, 58% of medium and 85% of large businesses were on social media. Of these, 34% of small, 49% of medium and 52% of large businesses were paying to advertise there.

The good news is, of those advertising on Facebook, 64% of small, 80% of medium and 95% of large businesses found this advertising effective.

This being said, Social media pages posting organic content are still free of charge for businesses without the use of paid promotion, so how can you take advantage of this to generate leads?

The first step is to get smart about how your business uses social media. Read on to discover a few savvy tricks that could change the way you think about your channel’s potential.

Find updated statistics for both consumers and businesses in the latest Yellow Social Media Report.

Establish yourself as an expert through blogging

Having a blog immediately does two things for you:

  • It gives readers and businesses a reason to visit your website – even if your business doesn't offer something needed on a daily basis.
  • It gives you the chance to establish yourself as a subject matter expert in your field.

Make them come to you

It's so important to have good content – businesses and readers can go just about anywhere on the web to find the answers to their questions, and solutions to their problems.

Your job is to make them come to you by posting articles that offer to solve a problem or teach a new skill with a how-to article.

For example, a plastering business might post 'What you should know before remodelling' or 'How to avoid plastering disasters.' These types of articles entice the reader with good information.

Keep it simple

People are more likely to voice their opinion or ask a question if they feel comfortable with easy material, so keep your content quality high, but your topics basic. It's better to discuss '101-level' content to generate conversations in the comments.

Consider a content marketing plan to make sure you're thinking about what content will work for your audience.

If it's good content, don't give it all away

So how does this translate to generating leads? Simple, you make your content form-gated.

When you're at an event, how do you gauge your success? Probably by the number of forms filled out by interested consumers. Your can set up your blog so that online readers have to fill out the same types of forms if they want to get to your great content.

Share posts with links to your content via your social media channels. When viewers see your posts, they'll be enticed to read what advice you have to offer. One way to set up your blog is that viewers are able to see the first part of the article, but in order to view the rest, they must fill out a form. It's important to weigh up the value of what you're offering against the time taken to sign up. If offering a simple article, site visitors might see signing up as too much of a commitment. If you're offering a white paper or e-book giving valuable insight into your industry, you might be more likely to entice readers to take the time to complete a form.

This method may give you solid leads and helps you gauge the effectiveness of your social media platforms. In Google Analytics, you'll be able to see where people clicked a link to the article, either through Facebook, Twitter or a Google search.

Know your audience, know their platform

If you really want to excel in online lead generation, now is the time to research your customers and your competition.

Start by checking out some of the businesses or consumers you would like to turn into customers. If you know how they use social media, you'll have a better understanding of how they'll want to interact with you, and where to grab their attention.

Find out:

  • what other brands they're following
  • what their web pages and social media pages look like
  • do they post a lot of text or do they mostly post photographs or videos
  • where your audience likes to spend time online

Let's use the plastering business mentioned above as an example:

The plastering business wants to win some contracts with apartment complexes in the area. These complexes post pictures of their properties on Instagram to attract customers. The plastering business opens an Instagram account too, posting before and after pictures of work they've done and using some of the same hashtags as the apartment complexes. This may be an excellent way to grab the attention of the apartment complexes.

When researching your competition, find out:

  • what they're posting
  • how much engagement their posts attract
  • how they interact with their audience

Make note of what they're doing that you're not and experiment with similar tactics. This might even inspire you to think of a new way to appeal to your audience.

Be ready to talk and build trust

Many businesses use social media as a form of customer service. While that may not seem like a good way to generate online leads, it helps make you feel less like a faceless business, and more of a reliable friend who happens to sell goods and services.

So many people are tired of hearing sales pitches and they've learned to tune out – distance yourself from that and build trust.

Start by listening to your current customers and ask them 'How can I help?' Answer the questions you receive, and seek out forums online where people ask questions. You can establish yourself as an expert in this way.

You also want to appear available through multiple avenues. If a customer is contacting you, more than likely they've done their research and are ready to speak with a representative.

Monitor emails to your website, posts that mention your page and public or private/direct message to your social media accounts. List phone numbers on your social media channels if you take calls, ensuring a sales representative is always ready to close a deal.

Take advantage of free services

Social media marketing comes with quite a few free advantages. You gain exclusive access to your market and the ability to interact with them.

You should never fully rely on social media to land sales. Use social media to help more businesses and customers get to the contacting stage.

So get your name out there, show your consumers you know your stuff, reel them in, and land a sale!