Many sales pros and B2B marketers have written off social media as a somewhat effective, if difficult to measure, means of increasing brand awareness. Sure, it can get people talking, but it doesn’t do much to directly contribute to the bottom line.

If you’ve caught yourself thinking like this, think again. Social media can be a fantastic source for lead generation, if you know how to uncover and interpret the data it provides.

There are a number of ways that social media can be measured and used to generate leads: gated content, email opt-ins, paid advertising campaigns and more. But tied into all of these activities is data – what you know about your customers, your competitors, and your industry.

Improve targeting and segmentation

If you already have a large audience in your mailing list, you can improve open rates, engagement and actions taken by leveraging social data. By combining what you know about your audience on social media (their likes, dislikes, recent purchases, who they are connected to, etc.) with their email address, you can segment a large audience into several smaller ones. These smaller audiences should share traits that are relevant to your brand’s marketing and sales goals – like their job title, brands they have interacted with recently, or the size of their influence on social media, for instance. Each segment can then receive its own tailored messaging, which will increase lead gen over time.

Personalize your messages

Whether you are sending a cold email or replying to a long-time customer on Twitter, the more you can personalize your message the better. After all, consumers want to feel like the brands they engage with know and care about them. Social data enables more personalized messages in the context of both sales and marketing. Emails no longer have to be generic “check out our latest feature” pieces – instead, they can be personalized to directly address recent pain points your prospect has expressed via Twitter or LinkedIn. Customer service tweets no longer have to uselessly repeat, “for assistance, call our toll free number” – now they can directly address the current (and past) issues the customer is facing.

Automate based on the buyer’s journey

Social data can also be used to develop marketing and sales automation in order to capture and move more leads down the funnel.

For instance when you know that your customer is in the decision stage of the buyer’s journey, based on their interactions with your brand on and off social media, you can create an automated email drip campaign to showcase key product features that will address their pain point and increase the urgency along the way.

Using social data to inform lead generation campaigns will strengthen them and increase the number and quality of leads that come through. Whether through automation, personalization or segmentation, you can develop more precise, targeted lead gen campaigns thanks to the proper application of social data.