Former President of CBS NewsÂ Andrew Heyward wrote in the Harvard Business Review last year thatÂ â€œevery company is a media company,â€ summarizing the idea that marketing is shifting to an environment where advertisers need to produce compelling content in order to succeed.
Recent data suggests that this is indeed the case, and that looking at social media services like Twitter and Facebook strictly as lead generation tools might be counter-productive, especially for companies that focus on business-to-business sales.
LeadForce1, an online marketing automation service provider,Â studied website visitor data for 218 companies with a social media presence from February through April of this year. The results overwhelmingly showed that visitors who arrived at corporate websites via Twitter and Facebook engaged mostly with content â€“ specifically a companyâ€™s blog â€“ as opposed to exploring products or submitting a contact us form.
I totally disagree with the idea that social media doesn’t need to be held accountable for return on investment. I’m frankly sick and tired of all the buzz and hype around facebook and twitter as huge lead generators for business-to-business marketing purposes.
Here’s my advice to all the social media experts out there – take a finance class.
Business are build on profit margins and cash flow generated by doing business with customers who you treat really well. End of story.
If it doesn’t produce cash flow, it should either not be in your marketing mix at all or it should be less than 20% of it. (Example: PR isn’t very trackable, so doing some is okay, but not more than 20% – my 2 cents)
A follower or a fan is NOT the same as bonafide customer who pays you cash. They are simply not the same thing.
This is especially true as you go into higher end, more expensive b2b sales – $50k+ per transaction. As CEO coach, I work with people many people who are b2b buyers.
At the C-level, unless you’re in an Internet industry (and 99% of C-level executives are not), these people simply do not use twitter or facebook (though interestingly in my research they all DO use linkedin).
How do I know this?
I ask them. You know, old fashion, talk to your customers face-to-face market research (and of course looking at my own stats).
Finally, this is not an indictment of all social media for b2b purposes. I’ve found blogging and linkedin to be useful lead generation sources (again by looking at my ROI and via customer interviews).
I have been looking for real case studies of b2b ROI via facebook or twitter that’s not focused on social media consulting/education, and for the life of me can not find one.
The data CLEARLY shows ROI in this case is the exception, and most definitely not the rule.
I think Social Media should be looked at much like “going out for a drink” after the big meeting. During this time is usually when the biggest deals happen. So if you use SM correctly it could be extremely powerful to your business.