Study: Facebook and Twitter May Not Produce Business Leads

The pseudo-transparency of the social web contributes to a common marketing error – equating visitors with leads. Merely counting the number of unique website visitors is an insufficient method to determine the effectiveness of a marketing campaign. One must examine who the visitors are and what they sought once they landed. LeadForce1, a cloud-based B2B marketing automation platform developer, examined these factors for their enterprise clients, with findings to guide them – and us – on appropriate channels to generate leads.
The B2B Social Media Report Card concludes that for B2B enterprises:

  • Wikipedia “certainly” acts as a source of genuine leads who are looking for a solution.
  • LinkedIn promises to be a place to create brand awareness with other enterprises, but it may not contribute much towards quality lead generation.
  • Facebook and Twitter are “clearly” places for nurturing relationships, sharing good content and creating awareness – which may not directly result in lead generation.

The study used data collected from February 2010 through April 2010 for 261 B2B companies that are using LeadForce1 code on their corporate website; of these, 218 have active social media presence. Leads, in the marketing automation space of LeadForce1, are defined as enterprise visitors who may or may not convert into a prospect.
50% of the visitors came to the sites directly by typing in the website URL. Search engines are the second highest source of visitors to these B2B websites, followed by referral sites. Among referral visitors social media was the most significant, contributing nearly 15% of referral traffic.
Every third visitor to the B2B websites studied is an enterprise visitor. Of these, again, the highest number of visitors came directly to the site, search engines ranked second and social media channels were the third most popular source for enterprise visitors.
LinkedIn emerged as the clear frontrunner among the popular social media channels sending both the highest number of visitors and enterprise visitors to these sites. It was closely followed by Wikipedia. Bookmarking site Reddit and developer site Dzone were surprise elements – this could be because a significant number of LeadForce1 clients are technology sites with presence on these networks. Twitter, Facebook, Squidoo, Stumbleupon and Delicious were some of the other measurable contributors to traffic.

The study looked at “pages of interest” – pages which people visited once they were on the website. Such data is essential to give marketers an idea of the kind of channels people visit for different kinds of information. In other words, you want to know the kind of information a visitor is most likely to be seeking when a s/he comes from a particular social media site.
LinkedIn accounts for the maximum number of visitors from any social media site to the B2B websites studied. The data shows that visitors who come in from LinkedIn were looking for more information on the company and the management behind the company or looking for job openings.
Wikipedia emerged as the most effective social media channel to bring in the most relevant and serious leads, as defined by LeadForce1. People who came to a website from Wikipedia were clearly in the research stage of their buying decision process, looking for more information on company offerings. This finding reiterates the belief that enterprises look for neutral content when researching a solution or a vendor.

According to LeadForce1, “The research tells us that people who come in from Twitter cannot be treated as leads or prospects.” People who come from Twitter mostly come to a website in search of content. A very miniscule percentage of the traffic checked out the products page and even lesser the contact us page.