As a business owner, you’ve probably already heard of the term ‘leads.’ Brands harp a lot about finding and generating them, with the ultimate goal of converting them into actual, paying customers.

The thing is, even marketers, the majority of them in fact, cite lead generation as a top marketing challenge. So, here’s an insider tip to make generating leads easier for you—use social media.

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Social media is one of the most powerful yet simple, and best of all free, ways to find, reach, and engage your target audience.

If you’re unsure on how to go about it, here are three ways that have proven to be very effective for me:

1. Use hashtags and be smart about it

Originally popularized and used on the microblogging platform, Twitter, its efficacy has since expanded. Other platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest have since started using it as well. Why? Hashtags are a great way to let your own content be discovered with similar material. It’s easy and simple—all you need is a little research.

My best advice is to use a mix of general and specific hashtags. General tags are usually broad and have a volume of hundreds of thousands, if not millions. I use it mostly to categorize my content. Because of the number of people using the same hashtag, it’s very likely that your content will get buried under all the new options that come in. That’s where the more specific hashtags come in. Specific hashtags allow your content to be discovered easier. Aim for categories that have a volume of just a few thousand so you have more visibility and increase your chances of being discovered by a new audience.

2. Choose your platforms wisely

These days, there are a lot of social media platforms to choose from. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are still among the most popular ones. However you do have a very wide range of social platforms to choose from that can fit your specific niche perfectly.

I always encourage businesses to maintain their presence among the top three. However, make sure you find your niche and build a community or a network among other social media platforms. For example, if you’re a brand that’s more business focused, make sure you sign up for LinkedIn as well. If you’re a videographer, be sure to create an account with YouTube and start building a community of followers on that platform. If your company is more visual, be sure to add Pinterest to your lineup.

This ensures that you’re building an audience that’s already interested or at least aware of what you do, making it easier to generate quality leads for your business.

3. Spur engagement by hosting simple contests

Social media contests are a great way to drive attention to your page. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a big one, but if you have the budget to invest in a high value prize, then by all means, make the most out of it. However, realistically, a lot of businesses have smaller budgets to invest such marketing initiatives. But that doesn’t mean you can’t run contests anymore.

Even something as simple as offering a sample trial and free products or service can encourage prospects to check out your offer and become quality leads.

The trick is in keeping the mechanics simple. For example, asking them to retweet, like, share, or follow a post is a great way to build your page engagement and generate interest that raises your chances of introducing your product or service to leads.

It all seems so simple—but that’s the beauty of generating leads through social media. It’s simple, but effective. Give it a try and let me know how it goes. If you have more tips to share or questions on any of my suggestions above, get in touch with me via Leadspanda.