I'm hearing a lot of questions and conversations about Social Media as something that's a stand alone from lead nurturing and demand gen. I'm getting really irritated by all the people who say they can't 100% prove it works so therefore ROI doesn't exist.The basic contention being that there's a lot of activity going on, but not many results to be seen.
In a LinkedIn discussion, I posted this response a few months ago to try and lay out a more integrated way of looking at the role I see social media playing within an integrated marketing strategy. I thought it might be useful to share it here.
See what you think:
If I might suggest an alternative way to look at lead generation and social media. Social media is more of an awareness and interest generator, than it is a lead generator. This said, I think determining contribution depends on how far back you can monitor.
For example, LinkedIn is one of the top referrers to my blog. It's right up there with Twitter and Facebook. I have generated a number of very nice deals in the last two years from prospects who contact me after reading my blog. When I speak with them I learn they originally received exposure to my work through one of these networks.
The best strategy is linking everything you (your company) do together. It's not so much about one interaction/distribution option as it is that they all work together and eventually lead prospects back to your own web properties - whether blog or website (or both). The kicker is to have the right content available at all locations that encourages them to seek out more of your content and then encourages them to inquire to learn more.
Social media is only one ingredient of lead generation. If you use it as a stand alone, I doubt you'll see much success. But, used in concert with other vehicles, I've seen it produce great results.
If you look at connected pathways, you may be surprised at how leads actually find you.
A simple scenario of what this looks like:
- A Tweet promotes a webinar I'm giving.
- A prospect sees the Tweet and signs up for the webinar.
- After the webinar they request a connection on LinkedIn and I agree.
- While at Linkedin, they see a link to a blog post they find interesting and click to read more.
- While at the blog they like what they see and subscribe to the RSS feed.
- After a while, they see something that makes them curious and post a comment asking a question in reference to a blog post.
- I answer them.
- They visit my website and fill out the contact form to request a conversation.
- We speak and I earn a new project. (I've actually earned several new projects in the last year that reflect variations on this scenario)
**one qualifier, the above happens over time even though it doesn't read that way.
So what gets credit for the lead? Twitter, the webinar, LinkedIn, the blog, my website?
Before you ask - no I don't have sophisticated software that tracks this stuff. I ask questions to learn how this happens. I'm seeing more and more of this as time goes on. This said, some of my clients do have the tools and we're seeing some nice momentum building in their pipelines from the incorporation of social media into their marketing programs.
Perhaps as a way to measure, you might set benchmarks for your programs without social media and then add it in and see what changes. If your traffic, lead quality and revenues are going up, that just may have something to do with it.