Want to know the easiest and least expensive way to generate leads for your business? The answer is social media. Your entire target audience is hanging out there. In fact, according to Statista, as of the the third quarter of 2018, Facebook has 2.27 billion active monthly users. So why isn’t your business spending more time on social media? Maybe it’s because you don’t know how to use it to your advantage. After all, you can’t just put up a profile and expect magic to happen. The good news is, even if you’re a newbie, there are a number of simple and effective tactics you can utilize. Check out these five foolproof ways to generate leads through social media. 1. Optimize your profile. First, don’t use a personal page for your business. Opt for a business profile to get extra features that will help grow your business. For instance, with an Instagram business profile, you have the ability to add links to your website in your Instagram Stories to increase traffic and sales. Another tip is to add a Facebook Sign Up tab via an email marketing service like Mailchimp a la entrepreneur-and-blogger consultant Melyssa Griffin. Don’t forget to add links to your website in your bio and pin your most popular and important posts to the top of your profile as well. Related: How to Become a Social Media Marketing Pro for Less Than $20 2. Promote gated content. Gated content is exactly what it sounds like; it’s content that’s hidden behind a virtual gate, and users have to provide their information in order to get access. Promoting gated content on your social media account is a great way to grow your email list. So if you offer a content upgrade on your website, share it via your social media accounts on a regular basis. If you haven’t created any gated content yet, you can easily do so using a free tool like Canva. You can create a PDF checklist, guide, calendar, template and much more; just make sure it’s relevant to your industry and something that you customers will be interested in. 3. Host a webinar or live video. Hosting a webinar or live video on Facebook or Instagram is another foolproof way to generate leads. People will line up for the opportunity to join a free webinar where they’ll receive valuable insights. Live videos in general are a great way to connect with your audience because they can interact with you in real-time. Blogging consultant Jorden Makelle uses Facebook Live to hold webinars that her audience would find useful, and she promotes it across all of her social media platforms. You can present your webinar video as gated content that users have to sign up for with their email address to ensure you capture their information. Or you can leave the video webinar open to a wide audience and direct them to special offers or a landing page that allows them to sign up for your email list. Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing 4. Run a contest. When you hold a contest on social media with a prize that your audience would love to win, you encourage a ton of shares and interaction and can also introduce your business to many new leads. Try holding a photo contest, for example. You can get your followers to submit their photos (and their contact info) to your site, and the photo with the most votes is the winner. You can encourage participants to share your post with their friends and family, and participants can encourage their loved ones to return to your page repeatedly to vote. 5. Use paid social ads. Instead of posting content on social media and just hoping users find it, you can put your business right in front of their eyes with paid social media ads on Facebook and Instagram, which provide the ability to target users based on their demographics and interests, which guarantees your ads are seen by your ideal customers. You can also take advantage of retargeting, which allows you to show ads to users who have previously visited your site. Much like this Shutterfly retargeting ad accomplishes, you can entice abandoning visitors to return to your site with an awesome discount. Instead of losing leads forever, you can “follow” them around the web until they’re convinced to return and convert. Over to you.... Social media isn’t just a place for interacting with your friends and sharing family photos. It’s also a place where you can easily generate business. With these foolproof strategies, you’re well on your way to turning your various platforms into lead-generating machines.