Capture Leads You Didn’t Know You Had With Paid Social Media

Harnessing Paid Social advert formats, innovative targeting capabilities and transparent reporting processes.

20 Madeline Ralph

Chances are, social media is already a part of your marketing strategy. Businesses are wise to the importance of ‘being where your customers are’ and with social networks boasting 2.8 billion active users worldwide, social media marketing is common practice for the majority.

However, what far too many businesses fail to realise is that organic reach and targeting is highly limited. Social media should no longer be restricted to engagement goals, as it can be a capable platform for customer acquisition and conversion. With dedicated Lead Generation advert formats, innovative targeting capabilities and transparent reporting processes, Paid Social Media advertising is a powerful Lead Generation tool. There are new opportunities and techniques to efficiently capture the leads you didn’t know you had with Paid Social media advertising.

Dedicated Lead Generation Advert Formats

The first indicator that social media is an important channel for your Lead Generation campaigns is the dedicated advert formats that are available. On Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, there are now options to create seamless Lead Generation adverts featuring a lead data capture form. The user can complete and submit the form in its entirety, without leaving the social website or app they were scrolling through. Better yet, the form will be pre-populated with key customer information so that your customer merely must hit submit. This seamless and highly simplified UX has a strong appeal for users that are unwilling to abandon their infinite scrolling tendencies (and that’s most of them). Removing any friction in the user’s form filling process is essential to reducing drop-off rates and will lift your lead volumes.

Facebook Lead Ads

Starting with Facebook’s ‘Lead Ads’, which are accessible through the ‘Lead Generation’ marketing objective. You can create a contact form with a combination of fixed and custom questions. For example, start with Facebook’s pre-populated fields of ‘name’, ‘location’ etc., and then add in your own business-specific question(s) with several response options. Facebook advise that you avoid open-ended text questions to minimise friction in the UX and to simplify your analysis later on.

fb marketing objective settings

In addition to the form questions, you also have the option to design your adverts’ introductory page and provide a motivation to hit the Call-to-Action (CTA) button. Also consider adding a thank-you page to gain some extra UX points. If you select Facebook’s new ‘higher intent’ Lead Gen form type, which is designed for prioritising quality of leads over volume, you can also add a review screen to your advert.


As with most of Facebook’s advertising formats, there is an option to run your Lead Ads on Instagram. Although there is slightly less choice in terms of the questions available, the appeal of offering an in-app data capture form remains.

LinkedIn Lead Ads for B2B

LinkedIn offers a similar advert format: ‘Lead Gen Forms’. Again, the questions can be tailored to your business needs and will be pre-populated with information that LinkedIn holds about each user. With much of LinkedIn’s customer data being professional (job title, seniority, company etc.), the platform is highly suited to B2B Lead Generation. Lead Gen Forms can be added to LinkedIn’s Sponsored Content advert format, or used as a CTA for InMail ads.

Linkedin campaign settings

The leads generated from both LinkedIn’s and Facebook’s adverts can be downloaded into campaign manager and/or directly to a third-party CRM system, ready for the next stage of the funnel.

Get Creative with Your Targeting

Advanced targeting capabilities are the primary selling point of any Paid Social campaign, and therefore you can ensure your Lead Generation ads reach the most important consumer group(s) for your business. Facebook, for example, offers a vast range of targeting options thanks to the huge amount of information that they hold on us. Key targeting options available to Lead Ads on Facebook include:

  • Demographics e.g. 25-34 year-old females in Manchester
  • Interests e.g. users that ‘like’ your competitor’s Facebook page
  • Behaviours e.g. desktop users with an anniversary in 10 days
  • Connections e.g. friends of people that like your brand’s Facebook page
  • Remarketing e.g. users that have visited your homepage in the last 30 days
  • Lookalike audiences e.g. users that share any of the above characteristics with your previous customers
Fb audience targeting settings

The targeting options can be used in combination with one another and designing a highly specific audience (provided you still reach Facebook’s minimum threshold) is an effective way to reach the people that are most likely to convert and will be the most valuable leads when they do so. Importantly, it will also ensure that your budget isn’t eaten up by wasted impressions and low-quality leads.

Tip: any customer information that you collect through Facebook Lead Ads can be directly applied to lookalike and custom audiences for your next Facebook advertising campaign.

Don’t Get Distracted by Vanity Metrics

When it comes to Lead Generation, social media’s vanity metrics (likes, shares, comments etc.) are next to useless – and can distract you from what really matters!

The king of metrics for a Lead Generation campaign is conversion rate. Understanding how many leads your ads have generated and the Cost per Lead (CPL) is essential to measuring and reporting success. In addition, segmenting conversions by demographic and considering what happens to your leads at the next step of the sales funnel is a good indicator of the quality of your lead data. Understanding this can help refine targeting even further.

When looking to optimise your campaign, it is also helpful to consider the lead generation specific metrics offered on each social network. For example, LinkedIn records ‘lead form opens’ and ‘lead form completion rate’, which helps realise patterns in consumer behaviour related to your ad.

Linkedin campaign metrics

Tying it in With Other Marketing Channels

Despite being able to sing the praises of Paid Social, every marketing communication channel holds its place. Adopting a holistic perspective for lead generation helps ensure that no potential customers slip through the net. Especially when it comes to delivering a well though-out digital strategy: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. More touchpoints = more data, all of which can be applied to new and existing marketing channels in a never-ending cycle of targeting, measuring and optimisation.

For example, combine your e-mail marketing database with Facebook to remind your subscribers to sign up for exclusive deals or products they saw in your email. Alternatively, you could run a campaign to generate new e-mail subscribers using your existing customer list as a lookalike audience for Lead Ads.

Similarly, don’t abandon organic social media activity because the reasons you started it (real-time customer engagement, long-term CRM etc.) are still vitally important and not many other channels come close to delivering the same benefits. When running a Lead Generation campaign, organic social content can also be the perfect tool for offering ‘social proof’ and reassuring customers to hand over their details.

Have You Considered This?

  • Your followers are not necessarily your customers. A large social following might indicate that you have a brilliant content strategy with highly inspirational Instagram pictures or funny, retweet-able videos. It doesn’t however indicate that your social media followers are anything more than brand advocates. Audience Insights on social media are readily available to users with existing brand pages and they are a great starting point for targeting. However, they should always be used in tandem with additional reports and data. For example, you could look at conversion data segmented by demographics to understand which of your ‘consumers’ are ‘customers’ and hence where to focus your attention.
  • Appreciate that consumers don’t want to be sold to on social media. Social Networks are first and foremost a communication platform and consumers will only dedicate their precious scrolling time in reward for vaguely entertaining or informative content. Attempting to sell your products and services on social media with no perceived reward is not only likely to aggravate your customer, it could see your ad blocked or worse, damage your long-term relationships. Highly targeted content has a greater perceived relevance therefore make good use of social media’s targeting options. Creative ad formats will boost UX and clearly highlighting your benefits will encourage users to take action.
  • Do your research into each platform’s user demographic to save your time and money. Appreciate that each platform has its niche and hence draws in a different demographic of users, along with different user behaviour. For example, as mentioned earlier, LinkedIn is ideal for B2B Lead Generation so make sure you adjust your ad copy, imagery and targeting accordingly.

From efficient targeting to extended reach and a seamless UX, Paid Social’s unique benefits will maximise the impact of your lead generation campaigns. Paid Social is an advanced marketing channel that should no longer be an after-thought for your digital strategy.

- Madeline Ralph