Using social media for lead generation? Then you probably wonder at times whether your results are typical. Here’s a look at the state of social lead generation from folks in the social media marketing trenches.

News outlet Social Media Today and marketing platform SharpSpring recently collaborated to study how marketers are using social media for lead generation.

The resulting report features the insights of more than 300 marketers, explores the most effective approaches, and looks at what to expect from social media lead gen in the future.

So, what were the most intriguing takeaways from this study? Let’s dig right into the highlights of the latest The State of Social Lead Generation report.

Where Does Social Lead Gen Currently Stand?

One of the biggest takeaways from the report is that overall, marketers are only “somewhat satisfied” with their social lead generation efforts. Here’s how they reported satisfaction with their lead volume:

  • Extremely dissatisfied: 8%
  • Somewhat dissatisfied: 30%
  • Neutral: 17%
  • Somewhat satisfied: 38%
  • Extremely satisfied: 7%

Although more than a third are at least somewhat satisfied with their lead volume, over half of marketers are either neutral or dissatisfied with their results.

These responses indicate that marketers need either more realistic expectations or better social media lead gen tactics. Developing industry averages could help marketers understand what to expect from their campaigns and help them generate more leads.

Here’s how they viewed their lead quality:

  • Extremely dissatisfied: 10%
  • Somewhat dissatisfied: 27%
  • Neutral: 30%
  • Somewhat satisfied: 26%
  • Extremely satisfied: 8%

A third of marketers reported being at least somewhat satisfied with the quality of their leads, but two-thirds are neutral or dissatisfied. That means marketers’ social media efforts really aren’t generating the type of leads they expect.

When asked to consider their overall satisfaction with lead volume and quality, marketers were more positive. Here’s what they said:

  • Extremely dissatisfied: 5%
  • Somewhat dissatisfied: 25%
  • Neutral: 27%
  • Somewhat satisfied: 36%
  • Extremely satisfied: 7%

That means most marketers’ lead generation tactics could use some improvement. (Need some help? Check out these four ways to capture leads from organic social media.)

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Do Marketers Have Social Lead Generation Plans?

It would be easy to assume that the reported lack of satisfaction with social media is part of a bigger problem, such as the absence of a cohesive lead gen strategy. Yet nearly two-thirds of marketers indicated that they do have a plan for generating leads from social media.

So, what could be part of the problem?

Marketers’ social media lead gen plans may need some work, especially if they aren’t living up to expectations.

Indeed, nearly of marketers reported that they don’t think their marketing activities are optimized for lead generation. Only a third stated that they are satisfied with their lead generation results and optimization efforts.

These responses point to the fact that many marketers may not be committing enough resources to lead generation. As a result, they may generate a small number of leads, many of which don’t convert to become paying customers. (You might be able to convince your boss and higher-ups to allocate resources to lead generation if you can prove social ROI to your boss.)

In addition, some marketers may be focusing too much on irrelevant metrics and not enough on developing an effective lead gen strategy. Account growth and engagement can boost brand awareness and build communities, but capturing leads requires making a compelling offer.

Following up with warm leads is for guiding prospects through the sales funnel and optimizing a successful lead generation plan.

Which Social Platforms Generate the Best Leads?

In addition to developing an enticing offer and follow-up strategy, marketers also need to know which social media platforms work best for their business.

Here’s what they said when asked which channels are best for lead generation:

  • Facebook: 82%
  • LinkedIn: 48%
  • Instagram: 43%
  • Twitter: 15%
  • Pinterest: 9%
  • Snapchat: 4%

Facebook has the most robust set of marketing and advertising tools of any social media channel, which means marketers get more opportunities for optimizing campaigns. However, LinkedIn has the ability to generate good results for B2B companies, and Instagram can drive leads with its shopping tags.

Those responses show that marketers are likely to get the best results when they launch campaigns on the right platforms for their target audience and when they use all of the channel’s available tools.

What Are the Most Effective Lead Generation Tactics?

No two social media lead generation campaigns are exactly alike, and marketers can use a wide variety of content. However, some social media content tends to perform better than others.

Here are the top-performing content types:

  • Still image: 41%
  • Video: 40%
  • Stories: 11%
  • Text: 4%

Although far fewer report that text-only posts and Stories work best, the latter may have the potential for future campaigns. Stories are a relatively new lead gen option. They’ve already produced strong results, so their lead gen power may continue to increase.

Here are the most effective types of website content, according to survey respondents:

  • Blog posts: 40%
  • Videos: 38%
  • Studies: 25%
  • Infographics: 19%
  • Webinars: 14%
  • Direct messaging: 11%

Most businesses produce far more blog posts and videos than other content types, such as studies and infographics. That means the volume of content they produce could relate directly to the number of leads they generate.

These responses also suggest that businesses that tend to focus on tactics like infographics and webinars could generate more leads by producing blog posts and videos.

In addition, marketers could capture leads from social media traffic using pop-ups, quizzes, and other tactics, thereby maximizing the results from their efforts.

What Does the Future Hold for Social Lead Gen?

Above all, The State of Social Lead Generation report indicates that marketers expect better results from their future lead gen campaigns.

Here are the channels that marketers believe have the most potential:

  • Social media: 53%
  • Direct messaging: 19%
  • Email marketing: 17%
  • Traditional marketing: 1%

In the future, marketers also have high hopes for automation. Nearly 70% responded that they would consider automating more of their lead gen processes.

Along the same lines, almost three-quarters of marketers stated that they thought automation would have a major impact on lead generation at some point.

These results suggest that in the future, many marketers intend to use a combination of social media and automated tactics like messaging bots and email marketing to optimize their lead generation strategies.

Ultimately, social lead generation has the power to be a major revenue driver in the future.

Marketers may not be achieving stellar results yet, but they see plenty of potential and plan to continue relying on social media for lead gen. As marketers better align their lead generation plans with their social media efforts and adopt successful automation tools, they can optimize their strategies and get the social lead generation results they want.

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