According to research released by Chief Marketer, the use of social media channels for lead generation will increase by 20 percentage this year as companies look to promote brand awareness and nurture relationships. As part of the 2012 Business-to-Business Lead Generation Survey, Chief Marketer polled some 340 practitioners in the B2B marketing space to determine which marketing channels hold the most lead-gen potential; 68 percent of respondents report they will prospect in social in 2012, up from 48 percent in 2011.
Report findings show 28 percent of companies surveyed are not currently participating in social media for purposes of lead generation. Of those companies that are, however, 45 percent indicate they are doing so to build relationships and awareness that may convert to sales down the road. An additional 21 percent report using social media to draw visitors to their company websites, while still others are selling directly within social networks (3 percent), gathering registrations via offers, and gaining viral spread by urging fans to share their content in social (2 percent each).
Despite the rising popularity of social media for prospecting, survey respondents also point to the challenges they face as it gains momentum. Nearly half of respondents (46 percent) claim social requires more content than traditional sources of lead-generation and that these additional resources “can strain a marketing team while adding more ‘noise,’ ‘clutter,’ and unqualified prospects.” Forty percent of respondents indicate prospects don’t care for blatant marketing in “commerce-free” zones and another 32 percent report that they’re unable to measure social media return on investment effectively.
“The use of social media absolutely opens up more avenues for finding customers. But there’s also so much information to learn and when you think you have a handle on it, it changes,” one survey participant explained. Indeed, this “wild west digital frontier,” even with its lead-gen potential, may be a marketing channel companies will need to harness in coming years.