Complex Made Simple

Current social lead generation and future social lead building- Research says

It’s impossible to discount the effect of social media and the potential the medium provides for connecting us with other people, ideas and communities, which shape how we engage, work and think

Clearly, social media is not delivering on its potential for a lot of brands Facebook has the best ad options and tools for driving leads, while LinkedIn has more direct appeal to B2B audiences 12% pointed to “Stories” as being more effective for lead gen than videos and images

By: Social Media Today and Sharp Spring

To get more perspective on how effective social platforms are for lead generation, we recently partnered with SharpSpring to reach out to our community and get their thoughts on which platforms and approaches are most effective for lead gen, and what they expect in the future for social lead building.

More than 320 marketers took part in our survey, which reveals some interesting, concerning and thought-provoking considerations for digital marketing. Here’s a look at what we found, starting with the current state of social lead gen. Experiences with social media lead generation are significantly varied. Some businesses can post relatively few updates and still generate consumer interest, while others can dedicate hours each week to maintaining an active presence, only to find those efforts failing to deliver paying clients.

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Overall, when assessing social media for lead volume and lead quality, most respondents indicated they were “somewhat satisfied” — but then again, the majority (52%) fell into the “neutral” and “somewhat dissatisfied” categories. Clearly, social media is not delivering on its potential for a lot of brands. The challenge then is diagnosing where the issues lie, and why businesses are not generating improved results.

To dig into this further, we tried to establish what plans businesses actually have to drive lead gen, and whether the failure could lie in simply not mapping out an effective strategy. According to the majority (61%), that’s not the case. Most businesses have a plan, including relevant offers, CTAs and follow-up workflows, the key elements of which should boost lead gen.

Different businesses have different objectives, but the core elements you need to consider are:

• Offers — Are you enticing your audience to further engage with your business through relevant offers, including discounts, white papers, and online events. If you have an offer, you can prompt your audience to sign up, expanding the relationship beyond generic social engagement.

• CTAs — Your audience won’t act if you don’t ask it to, so it’s important to include relevant calls to action within your social posts, to drive that additional response that will take the audience beyond being a basic social media fan. Your ultimate goal is to convert, to share your business offers and to prompt your audience to make a purchase. Generating a more direct connection, and moving beyond Likes and comments, is key.

• Follow-up messaging — You also need to plan for engaging, and re-engaging, those who have taken that next step. Once you’ve gone to all the effort to get them to sign up, and build that next level of connection, you need to ensure you maximize this by establishing a follow-up process based on their response — or lack of it. Determine an adequate frequency for reconnection, and try to make your messaging as personal as possible to maintain that link.

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Facebook has the best ad options and tools for driving leads, while LinkedIn has more direct appeal to B2B audiences. But then again, research has shown that Pinterest users come to the platform with high purchase intent, and Twitter remains a key focus for most brands engaging in social media marketing.

The most important element is knowing where your audience is active, but starting out that research with three leading platforms in mind would be a reasonable approach.

In terms of content, and what specific types of social posts are better for lead generation, our respondents indicated that images and video worked best. With so many visual options available, straight text posts are no longer as effective as they once were, and while “Stories” usage is rising, it’s still not a key platform just yet. Though it is interesting to note that almost 12% indicated “Stories” were the best option for driving leads. Even at this stage, with options for including referral links limited, “Stories” are still gaining traction. That 12% pointed to “Stories” as being more effective for lead gen than videos and images is significant and may be worth factoring into your planning.

But are marketers actually happy with their lead generation strategies? Interestingly, the majority are not. More than 45% indicated they did not think their current marketing was aligned with optimal lead generation, and 23% weren’t sure. That could mean they’re too focused on building a presence on the social platforms themselves, as opposed to driving customers to the next phase of the conversion path, or that they’re not linking their online performance back to their actual business goals. This could also be seen as aligning with our earlier finding that many marketers are not satisfied with the quality and volume of leads.

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In the next element of our survey, we asked which medium marketers believe will be the most effective for lead generation in the future. More than 53% indicated social platforms as the most likely key driver, beating out direct messaging (19%) and email marketing (17%), and well ahead of traditional media. Of course, we are Social Media Today, so our audience is more likely to be somewhat biased toward social platforms, but given the option, social came out as the clear favorite, indicating that marketers believe in social as key to lead gen, even if they’re not confident that they’ve established the best plans for using the medium yet. For many, automation is another key to this. With so many connected platforms and options, and ways to automate such processes, it seems logical that brands will eventually seek to reduce their manual workloads and increase their reliance on automated elements as such systems become more refined and deliver on consumer expectation