Do social media and content marketing drive leads?

Nov. 4th, 2011

In her recent blog post, my colleague Julie Jares points out that content marketing has "come of age." She cites data from an October 2011 eMarketer report titled "B2B Lead Generation: Using Content to Acquire Customers," which details how B2B marketers are using content to enhance their lead generation efforts. The report also discusses content marketing's intersection with another marketing discipline that's come of age: social media.

Like many B2B marketers, you might be ramping up a content marketing program of your own. After developing your content—be it a white paper, podcast, or webinar—you'll need to effectively promote and distribute it, using your content to nurture leads.

In the report, Mike Volpe, CMO of HubSpot, an inbound marketing software company, describes how he's combined content marketing and social media to drive lead generation. "By promoting content via social media you increase the number of followers you have because your social presence is more interesting," says Volpe, who goes on to say that he's generated thousands of inbound marketing leads per month by enhancing his social media presence with content.

The most effective social sites for B2B marketers

The report offers more interesting findings about which social media platforms are most effective and how marketers are using them to bolster their content marketing efforts. Here's a sampling:

Most effective social media platforms for B2B marketers, in order of effectiveness:

  • LinkedIn (65%)
  • Blogs (63%)
  • Twitter (53%)
  • YouTube/other video-sharing sites (47%)
  • Slideshare/other presentation-sharing sites (21%)
  • Delicious/other social bookmarking sites (14%)
  • Flickr/other photo-sharing sites (9%)
  • Scribd/other document-sharing sites (9%)

Source: MarketingSherpa, "2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Survey, SEO Edition, Aug. 18, 2011

Percent of B2B companies in North America that have acquired a customer from the following social media sites:

  • LinkedIn (61%)
  • Company blog (55%)
  • Twitter (53%)
  • Facebook (41%)

Source: Hubspot, "The 2011State of Inbound Marketing," March 2, 2011

Taking content promotion on social sites one step further

When promoting content on social media sites, you can also do more than distribute the content and cross your fingers, hoping for inbound leads. We've been successful helping several clients drive lead generation by proactively engaging people on social network sites. For example, we've used LinkedIn discussion groups to seed conversations, glean extremely valuable insights, and then recommend relevant content.

The critical factor when connecting conversations to content is, of course, to avoid explicitly promoting your product or service. Like any social media endeavor, your primary goal should be to engage and inform your audience as authentically as possible. Then it's a matter of knowing when and how to gracefully recommend your content.

Maria Pergolino, director of marketing at Bulldog Solutions, a demand generation agency, summarizes this approach nicely: "Question-and-answer sites are super important, but you never want to force a response or an answer. If somebody is not asking the question, then you shouldn't be forcing an answer."

Do you have questions about how to combine content marketing and social media? If so, get in touch.

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