B2B sales professionals – stop focusing on social media for lead generation

The hype around social media and its powerful effect on sales is greater than ever. As B2C businesses enjoy unrivalled success, the idea that the technique can be applied with the same results for B2B business has crept into the mainstream. Every week there are dozens of blog posts written about the power of social, but is it really effective for B2B lead generation?

Ignore outdated statistics – social media is continuously evolving.

Google “Social media for B2B lead generation” and you’ll find dozens of articles that crown LinkedIn as the king of social media platforms for B2B lead generation. During my research, this statement seemed to pop up everywhere:

LinkedIn is 277% more effective at generating leads than Facebook or Twitter. – Source

Statistics are great for giving your content credibility, but they’re worthless without context.

This statistic is actually from research that HubSpot conducted in 2012. Four years ago. If there’s one thing marketers should understand, it’s that a lot can change in four years – especially when it comes to social media.

And another:

LinkedIn is responsible for 80% of B2B leads – Source

(To clarify – 80% of all leads generated on social media were from LinkedIn, not 80% of all total leads generated.)

This was published in 2014, when LinkedIn Groups were considered to be one of the most effective social media methods for directly targeting prospects and leads.

In 2015, however, LinkedIn overhauled Groups.

Part of this overhaul was to remove the group member search functionality – meaning B2B marketers could no longer source groups for prospects based on keywords, or filter by demographics like seniority (so no more targeting key decision-makers).

Consider the rise of content marketing.

The success of inbound marketing – and, by default, content marketing – has skyrocketed in the last few years. It’s no surprise then that LinkedIn acquired publishing platform Pulse in 2013 and changed the functionality of Groups so that marketers could take less of a targeted and direct approach. Instead, anyone who’s a member of LinkedIn can now publish and share their own content across the platform.

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As of 2016, 88% of B2B marketers are heavily focused on content marketing, and a massive 93% of those organizations are utilizing social media to do so.

B2B Content Marketing Tactic Usage 2016

Source

Since 93% of organizations are using social media as a B2B content marketing tactic, you would expect social media to be overwhelmingly effective.

You would be wrong. Social media doesn’t even make the top 10 most effective B2B content marketing tactics.

Effectiveness Ratings for B2B Tactics

Source

Why isn’t social media effective for B2B?

It would be unwise to claim that social media isn’t effective at all, because it is. If you’re a B2C company.

The fundamental difference between B2B and B2C organizations is what makes social media a less effective method for driving quality B2B leads: their intended customer.

B2C companies see success on social media because social platforms offer demographics about their target audience – individuals. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all offer demographic information like age, gender and location, which is useful if you’re trying to sell to consumers.

B2B companies need other information that social media simply doesn’t offer. They don’t need information about individuals, they need information about the company. Where is the company in the supply chain? What’s their average monthly spend? What other products do they buy?

There are ways to achieve success on social media if you’re B2B. Still, it can be a lengthy process and the B2B sales funnel often takes enough time as it is (which we’ll explore in more depth another time). Could the reason for this apparent ineffectiveness be that social media simply isn’t the right place for B2B lead generation?

Has social media driven your B2B lead generation? How? If not, what methods do you find most effective? Tweet us (@Xpo_Online) or leave a comment below – we’d love to hear from you.

The Xpo-Online Team

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