Social Media Lead Generation: A Guide to Social Selling

social selling lead generation of social media

Fantastic content and a smart social media schedule will help you improve your social media lead generation, but sometimes you need to do a little extra digging to find leads on social media. The team from Awario shared with us the details on selling through social media and the smart way you can use social media for lead generation.

Where’d all the good leads go? And how to find your way back to them?

Leads is the magic word every business owner is waiting to hear from their marketing department, better sooner than later. In turn, every marketing strategy is built around leads and conversions. The hard part is getting there.

Where does one find lead prospects, let alone good leads? Some turn to buying email lists (spammy), some put their trust in PPC campaigns (expensive), some rely on CRM databases (quite a learning curve), and many combine several lead generation methods hoping to get the best of each.

More often than not, lead generation makes for a big chunk of work delegated to entire teams of sales and marketing pros.

It was precisely marketing pros who thought of sourcing lead prospects from social media — the world’s largest and most accessible pool of consumers and, subsequently, leads.

What Is Social Selling?

The process, referred to as socia medial selling, is the process of using social media to find new prospects, generate sales and build relationships with customers and potential customers. Social media selling is now perfected to full automation with designated social media lead generation tools doing the job of entire sales departments.

Social Selling via Listening

The logic behind looking for leads on social media is simple: with as many as 3.6B social media users worldwide, every business has most, if not all, of its customers on social networks. A marketer monitoring social networks closely could easily identify lead prospects simply by scanning publicly available posts:

  • people asking for recommendations or experiencing a problem,
  • people looking for specific services and products,
  • people sharing negative feedback on other service providers,
  • people in circumstances likely to call for specific services, etc.

While monitoring all of the social media sounds like a full-time job for a hundred social media marketers, technology like social listening does the trick in a matter of minutes. Specifically, social media monitoring and listening tools look for all mentions of a keyword or key phrase on social networks and even the web to then analyze the data and deliver the insights important in any given search.

There are many social listening tools to choose from, but social selling is done best with a tool that has the Boolean search mode. The reason it’s needed for social lead generation is you get to combine keywords with Boolean search operators and syntax. The result — you get to construct complex, specific queries for laser-sharp monitoring of relevant social media posts only. Let’s see social selling with Boolean in action.

Defining the Problem

To illustrate how you could use Boolean search to source social media leads, I’ll be using an Australian vet clinic as an example of a business that could grow its customer base by employing social selling. First, let’s define the problem prospective leads of a vet clinic could share with their friends and followers on social media.

scoial lead boolean search example

What we did here is combined the keywords dog owners might use when experiencing a dog health-related problem with Boolean search operators and syntax. Here’s a quick breakdown of the latter.

near/25: defines how close to each other the keywords can be for the social media post to be collected (25 words are allowed in between)
OR is used to specify that we want mentions of any of the keyword combinations indicated
” “ (quotation marks) indicate an exact match, i.e. the search will be for this specific word combination in this specific order
AND NOT link:“*” means that we want to exclude all mentions that contain links as those are likely to be promotional
AND country defines the geography of the search
FROM introduces the sources of mentions


Naturally, you’re welcome to experiment with search operators and keywords specific to your business. The rule of thumb is to think of the words real people are likely to use when sharing a problem on social media.

Defining Customer Attributes

We’ve now covered the sub-group of social media marketing leads experiencing a problem our business addresses.

Next up is the attributes our prospective customers share — those are constants and exist long before an issue or problem comes up. Therefore, we’ll put together a search query with keywords that reflect the attributes vet clinic customers might share.

selling on social media

As you can see, the search here is set for the social media posts announcing a new dog or a puppy being on the way or at home already. The only thing we changed is how close the keywords need to be to each other in the post — from 25 to 10. Note that you can absolutely throw in any keywords you come up with that match the criteria of your prospective customer.

Some questions that could help you determine customer attributes:

  • What do my customers have in common?
  • How do they talk about these commonalities on social media?
  • What words could they use to describe such attributes?

Defining Common Questions

By now we’ve covered two categories of prospective leads:

  • People experiencing an issue our business could help with right now.
  • People likely to need our services at some point in the future.

Let’s now target the third sub-group of lead prospects — people asking for recommendations and/or general advice related to the nature of our business.

A Boolean search query with common questions asked by dog owners could look something like this.

social selling boolean search questions

The new element in this Boolean search query is the search operators AND ++”?”. They define the requirement for a question mark in the social media post. This way, we’ll be able to source prospective customers’ questions and reply to them publicly or via DMs, offering guidance, advice, promotions, products, services — or react in any other way that feels appropriate to the question asked.

Most social listening tools offer in-app interaction with search results so that companies can engage with their leads right away or export contact details for future campaigns and outreach efforts.

Once you have a list of leads, you can sort them by their social media following and importance to single out influencers and niche opinion leaders. This way, you can build partnerships and grow your own brand ambassadors.

Voilà — you now know how to source leads on social media in three different ways with the help of Boolean search! Once you’ve mastered basic Boolean operators and syntax, you’ll have the skill for life — or at least for all the different tools you might find the Boolean search mode in.

A Final Word on Social Media Lead Generation

Before you set off to nail lead generation through social media with Boolean search, there’s one more trick in the social selling book — finding people unhappy with the products and services offered by your competition.

To do this, you’ll need a Boolean search query with your competitor’s brand name and any words used to express negative feedback. Here, you’re only limited by your imagination, but to set a general direction, here’s one last sample Boolean query you’re welcome to borrow and adjust to your own business.

social selling boolean search for competitors

Julia Miashkova is a social data analyst with a background in public relations and SEO. Her focus is social listening research and data journalism.

Social Share

Get Actionable Social Media Advice (And Not Too Much of It!)
Get The Dash, your weekly social media to-do list, delivered straight to your inbox.

Never Run Out
of Stuff to
Post on Social

MeetEdgar scheduling software automatically pulls posts from your content library to keep your social fresh everyday, on repeat.

Leave a Reply