How B2B marketers use social media

The most effective social media tool for generating business leads is LinkedIn, according to a survey of B2B marketers in the US last month.

Marketing automation company Pardot carried out the survey and say they had input from “dozens of companies” to questions focused on social marketing etiquette, the influence of social media on leads and sales, the most useful social media tools, and the cost to operate social marketing programmes.

That headline metric about LinkedIn is notable, although perhaps not surprising to B2B marketers. According to Pardot’s research, Twitter is the social media tool most used by those marketers but not the one that is the best lead-generator. Indeed, LinkedIn performs over twice as well in that role compared to Twitter as this graphic illustrates.

b2bsmwinner

Equally notable is the second most effective lead-generation tool – blogs. Long-form content and a place for conversational engagement appear to work well for B2B marketers.

Look, too, at how poor Facebook is for lead generation yet is one of the most-used social media tools according to Pardot’s survey.

What the survey doesn’t reveal – Pardot hasn’t published their methodology – is what those B2B marketers might have said about social media use for relationship- and community-building as opposed to the hard activity of lead generation. How would Twitter and LinkedIn have performed against each other, I wonder.

Other interesting metrics from Pardot’s survey report:

  • B2B marketers are spending millions of dollars annually on social marketing programmes, though nearly 30% are not tracking the impact of social media programmes on lead generation and sales.
  • Only 11% of marketers said their companies have a formal social media policy.
  • 55% said contacting a social media-generated sales lead by phone or email is appropriate, even if the prospect had not invited the vendor to do so.
  • 48% said it is appropriate to respond to a prospect via social media, if the prospect contacted the vendor via email or phone first.
  • All respondents said it is acceptable to invite a prospect to join a marketer’s online social networks, though some suggested the invites be limited to networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora, Plaxo and YouTube, versus more personal sites like Facebook.
  • 31% said it is acceptable to critique a competitor via social media
  • Over 64% of respondents use “internal, free tools” only to manage social media campaigns.

Pardot has produced a neat infographic from which the image above comes. Note their tweet-quote in that infographic:

There isn’t an ‘across the board’ standard for appropriate action through social channels.

Spot on – you have to determine which are effective for what measurable goal you want to achieve. You can figure that out by a variety of means including reading survey research like Pardot’s, depth analysis from firms like Altimeter, and experimenting yourself.

(Via Mediabistro)