Social media update for business-to-business lead generation: Some numbers

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B2B webbiquityThe blog posting is enticing: What are the Best Social Networks for BtoB Marketing (Research), but you have to read everything here with two grains of salt.

The figures here are based on a small, but presumably representative sample of 10 B2B technology websites. The overall results—that social media drives 1.1% of B2B commercial website traffic and 7% of leads—correlate fairly well with the 1.9% and 5% figures, respectively, reported by eMarketer earlier this year.

First grain:  That “7% of leads” and “1.1% of B2B commercial website traffic” is based on a “small, but presumably representative sample of 10 B2B technology websites” (bolding is my emphasis).

Ok, but architectural, engineering and construction businesses aren’t “technology websites” — at least for most of us. If you want to extrapolate technology websites to our industry, feel free, but I wouldn’t consider the correlations to be valid, at least without some further testing.

The second grain relates to the results:

According to recent research, more than 80% of b2b marketers now use the “big 3″ social networks—LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook—to distribute content — with LinkedIn leading the pack.

Drilling down into the social traffic segment specifically, the dominance of the big 3 is even more evident, as these sites combined account for 90% of all social traffic. LinkedIn alone accounts for more than half of all social B2B website visits,  and Twitter nearly a third.

I think, by now, most of us (at least anyone taking the time to read specialized blogs on construction marketing) know that LinkedIn has top spot in B2B  social media rankings and that Twitter and Facebook would be relevant as well. I mean, that is stating the obvious.(Notably Google Plus doesn’t rank anywhere near the top despite the search engine giant’s massive investment in its social media network — though I expect I’ll be using G+ primarily in the next few days as I head to San Jose at Google’s expense for a summit.)

However, while we should be cautious about validity here, if indeed social media is driving just one per cent of website traffic, but is generating seven per cent of leads, I think any marketer in the B2B space should look closely at the implied giant conversion levels possible here — and consider (if you haven’t already done it) — accelerating your research, study and implementation of social media strategies.

Consider the Webbiquity blog posting’s conclusion seriously:

However, for commercial B2B sites that maintained separate blogs, categorizing blog leads as “social” made the figures significant. Across these sites, social media (blogs—the company’s own and others—plus social networks) accounted on average for 7% of all leads. And while the figures varied considerably among sites, blog-driven traffic generally converted at significantly higher rates than visits from all other sources as a group.

The bottom line:

  • B2B marketers first need to focus social presence efforts on LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Its vital to maintain a presence on Facebook just due to the size of the network; results are generally less than with other sites, though there are B2B Facebook success stories out there.
  • Finally, experiment selectively with other social sites–but don’t spread efforts too thinly.

Oh, there is a P.S. . . .

One commenter reported that while the big three may be most important, you should carefully consider the social media potential of verticals within your industry/community — and consider the lead generating aspects here. As an example, if I were a service provider for AEC marketing activities, I would consider it relevant to post/reference on the Society for Marketing Professional Services (smps.org) community group, because of its obvious relevance to the industry.

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