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How to generate business leads online with social media

Invest in social media that results in leads

On this page

  • Establish yourself as an expert
  • Get the details of potential customers
  • Know your audience
  • Talk and build trust

Social media has been immensely useful for marketers trying to build a brand and interact with customers, but many don't know how to generate online leads using social media and turn them into sales.

Don't like social media marketing?  

If you're not using social media as a part of your marketing mix, you may be getting left behind. The 2017 Sensis Social Media Report shows that of the businesses surveyed, 90 percent of small businesses, 62 percent of medium and 100 percent of large businesses are using Facebook for paid promotion. What's more, the percentage of businesses that found that advertising effective ranged from 69 percent for small businesses up to 100 percent for large business.

The proportion of businesses of using Instagram for paid promotion has also grown now that you can run Instagram promotions via Facebook's Ads platform (nearly 25 percent of medium sized businesses use paid advertising on Instagram.) 

This being said, social media accounts are still free of charge for businesses, so how can you take advantage of this to generate leads?

The first step is to get smart about how to use social media. Read on to discover a few savvy tricks that could change the way you think about social media.

SBV Workshops - An introduction to social media video transcript (DOCX 15.1 KB)DOCX icon 

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, offering to solve a problem, or teach them a new skill using 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 online readers will have to fill out the same types of forms if they want to get to your great content.

Share links to your content via your social media channels. When viewers see the links, they'll be enticed to read what advice you have to offer. They'll go to your blog and be 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 an impediment. 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

This method can give you solid leads and it helps you gauge your effectiveness on other forms of social media. You'll be able to see how people got to the link, 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 start researching your customers and your competition.

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

Find out:

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

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

The plastering business wants 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. This is an excellent way to get some exposure.  

See what your competition is up to by finding out:

  • what they're posting
  • how much engagement their posts attract
  • how they interact with their audience
  • what they're doing that you're not.

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 less of 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 and private/direct message to your social media accounts and any phone numbers that are listed, ensuring a sales representative is always ready to close a deal.

Take advantage of free services

Even if you don't like social media marketing, it 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 – your sales people or processes should be able to take care of that. 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!

Google Garage offers free training to help you make the most of online opportunities including modules to decide what social media platforms are right for your business, set goals, get noticed on social media, measure your success and avoid pitfalls.Google Garage Banner

Case Study: Social media marketing for small business

'I see Twitter as a way of creating a personality for the business; it's about letting the customer see behind the scenes.'
Georgia Samuel, Famish'd

Read more about Social media marketing for small business

Georgia Samuel of Famishd standing in front of fresh salads an the Facebook logo

Michael Bird

About the author

Michael Bird is Co-Founder and Director of Digital Strategy at Social Garden, a Melbourne based Digital Marketing Agency specialising in social media lead generation, content marketing and SEO. You can connect with Mike on Google+ or visit his blog.