Last week I mentioned I was a bit grouchy about the failures of social business. Here’s an example of why: 42% of the respondents haven’t generated any leads from their social media campaigns, according to an article by Jeffrey L. Cohen writes about a Pardot survey on B2B marketers using social media.
The survey reports that 95% of B2B marketers are using social media, a number that strikes Cohen as way too high. That’s probably the result of sample bias on the part of Pardot, which is a marketing automation company. The 42% number is probably also too high, in that those who are most frustrated are probably looking at improving their tools and strategies and would therefore end up taking a survey like this.
You could take a glass half full look at this: more than half the survey respondents reported that they had found leads. But it’s hard for me to consider 42% an acceptable failure rate, even if it’s an inflated number.
Sameer Patel has been warning for quite some time that social business companies and consultants have been “measuring things that don’t keep executives up at night.”
“The honest fact is that in most cases, raw social media data is far too unruly for a Sales rep to bother with,” Patel told me earlier this year when Salesforce.com acquired Radian6. “They would rather make another cold call instead of perusing thousands of tweets.” That doesn’t mean that sales staff can’t adapt, or that social media tools are a waste of time – but there’s a long way to go.
And speaking of cold calls, entrepreneur Robert Graham recently wrote about how he’s had more success with cold calling than with that tried and true Internet marketing technique Google Adwords:
I had a good idea what my customers should look like. I could pick out the best candidates from magazines, directories, and webpages. Say what you will about the power of targeting on Facebook or AdWords, I manually collected contact information for 20+ ideal customers without too much effort.
I’m taking away two things here: 1) Nothing beats good old human contact. Calling people or meeting face to face beats social data mining whether that’s in sales, journalism or job hunting. 2) There’s still a good opportunity to improve lead generation for B2B through social media. Customer support via social media is valuable, but most customers are still contacting businesses through traditional channels. There may also be some value in branding via social media. But the big prize is going to be customer acquisition.