If I refer to social media as a lead generation tool, what comes to mind first? I hesitate to ask because the response is not always positive. Maybe because the scars are still healing from a past failed social media campaign. Maybe it’s from reading one too many faux-advice columns on optimal social media posting times. Whatever the reason, there seems to be a bad taste in many marketers’ mouths when social media is promoted as a solid lead generation tool.
We can all agree the algorithm age changed the way marketers approach social media. Brands that used to see each post reach the majority of their social media Followers saw their numbers dwindle to a small trickle a couple years ago.
Even so, not all is lost. Though it might go against what some marketers will tell you, there are still opportunities for brands to offer up value on social media and collect leads in return. Let’s cut through the chaff and stick to what we know works: I’ll show you three foolproof ways to generate leads using social media.
1. Run a Photo Contest
If you’re an active social media user, you’ve likely seen your fair share of online photo contests. If not, the basic idea is this: Submit a photo according to the theme or guidelines of the contest, and be entered to win a prize.
What makes a photo contest well-suited for social media lead generation is its visual and interactive appeal. Your fans get the opportunity to exercise their creativity and contribute to a brand they love. Participating is half the fun (the other half is winning).
To make your photo contest reach an exponentially larger audience, encourage all participants to share it on social media. If they do, they’re rewarded with bonus entries for a greater chance at winning.
Aside from the leads you generate, you also get user generated content (UGC)—the photos. Not all businesses have the resources to create awesome visual content, so why not let your fans help? UGC can be shared across your other social networks or used on branded assets like your website. I like to think of a photo contest as a killing-two-birds type of marketing initiative.
One of our clients, Dia & Co, ran a wildly successful photo contest on their Facebook page to find their next style icon. Participants were encouraged to share the contest as much as possible to garner more votes for their entry. The grand prize winner was chosen among the entries that got the most votes. In the end, the photo contest received a total of 2,291 leads (i.e., emails) and thousands of shares in less than a month. They also got some amazing photos from the folks who love their brand most.
Beyond anything else, Dia & Co were finely attuned to the values and interests of their target audience. It showed in the quality and amount of entries they received. The excellent prize Dia & Co selected and the clear and concise contest rules were all factors that contributed to their success. They knew the prize would be something their fans would love to win. Plus, the added encouragement to vote leveraged the networks of all entrants and extended the organic exposure of the contest.
If you plan on running a photo contest, make sure you have clear goals. What end result are you looking for? What theme will produce the best UGC for your business? How can your fans get involved with the overarching story of your brand? How can this be a win for you and your fans?
2. Promote Gated Lead Magnets
Social media is a great tool for brand building. There’s no debate. But when it comes to converting followers into leads, your choices are limited. That’s why it’s crucial to focus part of your social media marketing strategy on getting your followers off of social media and onto an asset you have full control over. I’m talking about a dedicated landing page with a high-value lead magnet.
You can ask any marketer—a lead magnet converts best when paired with a dedicated landing page because there’s only one conversion goal. A visitor that clicks through on your post to download your free ebook has only two options, convert or bounce. It’s what makes landing pages such a powerful tool. They focus visitors on your desired conversion goal and eliminate every other distraction.
You have two options when deciding how you promote your lead magnet: organic and paid. Last year, the content team at Wishpond put together a report on Instagram marketing and opted for an organic promotion strategy. As part of our traffic push, we sent all our social media traffic to this dedicated landing page to collect leads:
To promote it organically on social media, we did the following:
- Pinned it to the top of all our social channels.
- Changed our cover photos on Facebook and Twitter to highlight the industry report.
- Included it in inline CTAs on blog content we shared to social media.
- Created a custom landing page on our Facebook page.
- Shared it regularly across all channels.
We saw a 38 percent conversion rate on that landing page alone and still receive leads from it every month.
Get your followers off of social media and onto an asset you have full control over.
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Generating leads with content on social media requires two things: a high-value lead magnet and a dedicated landing page. Once you’ve created both, it’s only a matter of promoting it to the right audience.
I’d advise you not to rule out both paid and organic methods of promotion. Paid ads can return a lot of traffic at a low cost if you’ve created something that genuinely interests your target audience. Especially if you’re new to social media, paid ads can deliver an immediate influx of traffic.
If you’re worried about overspending, modern advertising tools can dial down your costs and allow you to only bid as much as a lead is worth to your business. Experiment with both and see what works best with your target audience.
3. Run a Social Sweepstakes
If you’d rather not get involved in running a photo contest, there’s always a social sweepstakes. Pick a killer prize, create a landing page to accept entries, and pick a winner. Easy as cake.
David’s Tea recently put on a branded social sweepstakes for their fans. To celebrate their partnership anniversary with MeToWe, they gave away the trip of a lifetime: an all-expenses-paid adventure to Kenya with a friend.
To promote the start of the sweepstakes, David’s Tea posted this photo to their Instagram feed urging their fans to click the link in their bio and enter.
After clicking the contest link, visitors arrive here at the sweepstakes landing page (pictured below). To enter, they provide their information, plus 200 words on what winning the trip would mean to them.
Requesting an additional creative task like this does two things: It allows the best entries to rise to the top, and it creates user-generated content to use for promotional purposes in the future. An addition like this makes sure the contest isn’t only a win for your fans but for your business as well.
A social sweepstakes is perfect for those who don’t want the added involvement of a photo contest. Pick an awesome prize to give away and collect leads. It’s really that simple. And it gets better even: Once you run one, it’s easy enough to duplicate your contest and run another every quarter or so.
Like we saw in the David’s Tea example, it’s important to cross promote your social sweepstakes—meaning, promote it across your social media accounts, email, and blog. Don’t rely on only one marketing source for traffic.
Remember that a social sweepstakes doesn’t only have to benefit your fans—your business can win too. Additional requirements, like the 200 words on why you should win, make for great user-generated content to use in the future.
Hopefully these three strategies have given you some ideas on how social media can be applied to your lead generation strategy. While some marketers may scoff at the idea, you’ll be laughing all the way to the (lead) bank.
To repeat, the three strategies were:
- Run a photo contest.
- Promote gated lead magnets.
- Run a social sweepstakes.
Whichever you choose, it should line up with your marketing goals and the audience you’re trying to reach. Plan your attack carefully from beginning to end. Once you find an approach that works, change the theme, rinse, and repeat. Double down on what works, and you’ll have yourself a proven lead generating machine.
Do you use social media as a lead generation tool? Have you experimented with any of these strategies? Share your stories with me in the comments below!
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