Social media is no longer new and its lifespan and place in the world is no longer hotly contested, one question that does continue to come up time and time again though is the ROI of social media activities, especially for B2B lead generation. In short, does it really work?
If you get down to specifics there are any number of case studies pointing one way or the other, however when you look at the big picture, the facts become much clearer.
We partnered with Hubspot to analyse the marketing stats for 4000 of their customers (the full results of which are available to download in this e-book) and one of the success factors we looked at was social media, here are some of the key findings:
To a certain extent, more followers seems to equal more leads, in that B2B businesses with 301 to 1,000 Twitter followers got over 4 times more leads than those with 1 to 25 fans. Businesses who have built followings of this size tweet regularly and have a good number of followers with whom to engage and have meaningful conversations.
There is a slightly strange phenomenon that with over 1000 followers B2B leads diminish; we’ve proposed that this might be for a number of reasons:
- Over 1000 followers it becomes more difficult to engage on a personal level with your following
- B2B accounts with over 1000 followers may be content producers such as online trade publications with no set lead generation strategy
- It is more difficult to produce really relevant lead generating content for a large following (something for everyone and nothing for anyone)
It remains to be seen how this is represented at the other side of the spectrum. The study was focused on small to medium sized companies and based on HubSpot's client base which is representative of the overall average.
As with Twitter the more fans you have the more leads you generate; B2B businesses with over 1,000 Facebook fans got 6.5 times more leads than those with 1 to 25 fans. With Facebook, B2B results didn’t increase evenly. The leads trend is pretty steady up to 500 fans but the jump in B2B leads generated from 500 to 1000 is steeper and the growth in leads after 1000 fans is greater still.
The reason behind this stat may be that unlike Twitter, with Facebook your number of fans is only half the story; our recent post “Using Facebook for B2B Marketing” we highlighted the fact that most people using Facebook for B2B don’t realise that 80% or more of their fans never see their posts.
The key is to create highly engaging posts triggering frequent likes, comments and shares from the whole of your fan base, check out our guide “How to create highly shareable posts” for tips on how to overcome this.
LinkedIn wasn’t featured in our e-book, but this earlier study from Hubspot indicates that LinkedIn is a great lead generator for B2B businesses, more effective even than Facebook and Twitter. To back this up, two surveys conducted last year provide the following evidence:
- A Lab 42 survey indicated that 61% of business people use LinkedIn as their primary professional network compared with 22% for Facebook and 4% for Twitter.
- BtoB conducted their own survey and found that when asked which social media method is most important for their social outreach, LinkedIn was the winner among B2B marketers (chosen by 30%).
So our conclusions for social media for B2B lead generation are:
- Consistent, frequent and mindful social media posting will build a bigger following that turns into more leads.
- Sharing value add content is the quickest way to build a relevant following, you have to give to gain.
- Building a following is only step one, engaging and converting them are also essential parts of your B2B lead generation strategy
- LinkedIn is and will be the best b2b social media for a while but all three major platforms hold significant potential to generate leads; Facebook is no longer just for holiday snaps and Twitter for what you had for lunch!