Social media lead generation: 5 effective tips

Social media marketing can bring in sales, but you have to focus on building trust and connection first.

For small business owners, social outreach can be a cost-effective way to transmit your brand message. Plus, it offers considerable value in both word-of-mouth marketing and customer service opportunities—two big benefits for those looking to stand out from the competition. But in today’s saturated media landscape, developing a social media presence isn’t always enough to generate quality leads.

Instead, small business owners need a strategy that builds trust and connection first, before focusing on sales or conversions. “Folks are always talking about their products and services on social media, and they forget you need to have a personality,” says Katherine Eddleman, manager of brand and awareness media at Regions Bank. “Are you going to be funny and quippy? Are you going to be more businesslike and serious? What’s your tone going to be? How can you show your expertise and industry knowledge?”

Before going in for the hard sell, focus on engagement. Here are five tips to help you build relationships, increase your reach—and generate leads.

  1. Stick to relevant social channels

    A barely-there presence on every social platform may be just as ineffective as no presence at all. Focusing on the one or two platforms where your audience is already having relevant conversations, and that align with your brand values and business goals, can be more cost-effective than spreading yourself thin. Plus, a targeted approach allows you to tap into existing interest on specific platforms.

    Small businesses might want to look toward social channels that have high reach and low-cost thresholds, says Melissa Stewart, social media community manager at Regions Bank. Once you’ve selected your platforms, consider how to adapt your content to each.

    “Planning for each individual platform is very important,” adds Eddleman. For example, a post on a visually heavy platform like Instagram might play up eye-catching graphics, whereas a LinkedIn post might be more professional in tone. “If you are running content equally across LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram, a lot of times they will perform very differently,” Eddleman says.

  2. Be a conversation starter

    Some brands attempt to deliver information to their followers without engaging with them, says Eddleman. The problem? People turn to social media to be, well, social. Building affinity and loyalty with your followers really begins with sparking conversations and soliciting responses. Eddleman suggests using a poll or a quiz to engage followers or asking them to drop an answer to a question in the comments. Not only are such techniques more engaging than ad copy, but they provide a great way to demonstrate industry expertise.

  3. Keep engagement on the platform

    In the past, social posts typically linked back to a company’s website, sending users who clicked through away from the platform. However, “that’s not really the best user journey if you’re scrolling through Instagram or reading articles on LinkedIn,” says Eddleman. Instead, be okay with having content that’s only to build engagement, whether it’s likes, comments, shares or a video view.

    Also, keep an eye on what content is most engaging. “In today’s world, video content reigns supreme,” Stewart says.

  4. Develop strategic partnerships

    Another way to bolster your brand while engaging followers is by partnering with other organizations. For example, you might join with other business leaders to share your knowledge in a collaborative article on LinkedIn. When you align with other companies, “you’re expanding your reach not only to your existing followers, but also to that other company’s followers,” says Stewart. “Pairing yourself with a brand that is like-minded and who you admire is a really great way to position your business in the industry,” she adds.

  5. Invest strategically in paid posts

    Using social media effectively may require an investment to drive engagement—but finding that balance between paid and organic traffic can be challenging, especially for small businesses on a limited budget. As a best practice, start by building out an organic content strategy that bolsters your reputation and appeals to a wide audience, says Eddleman. Then, once you know what type of content performs well with your followers, consider investing in the promotion of key posts to reach a specific group.

Ultimately, a clear strategy will help you see which posts are resonating the most with your followers. “Focus first on content that adds value and builds engagement in the relationship with your audience,” says Stewart. “That’s what social channels are for.”

Three things to do:

  1. Get tips on creating a marketing plan that gets results.
  2. Learn how you can use storytelling to promote your business’s brand online.
  3. Discover how content marketing might help you reach more customers.


This information is general education or marketing in nature and is not intended to be accounting, legal, tax, investment or financial advice. Although Regions believes this information to be accurate as of the date written, it cannot ensure that it will remain up to date. Statements of individuals are their own—not Regions’. Consult an appropriate professional concerning your specific situation and for current tax rules. This information should not be construed as a recommendation or suggestion as to the advisability of acquiring, holding or disposing of a particular investment, nor should it be construed as a suggestion or indication that the particular investment or investment course of action described herein is appropriate for any specific investor. In providing this communication, Regions is not undertaking to provide impartial investment advice or to give advice in a fiduciary capacity.