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Why Social Media Is Overrated For Lead Generation

Top Lead Generation Methodologies 2013

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A growing number of companies are using social media to promote their products and build their brands, but a recent study indicates it isn’t very effective at generating leads and awareness, according to Ken Krogue, president and founder of InsideSales.com.

That was one of the many interesting facts Krogue revealed to top sales leaders during his session, “Top Lead Generation Methodologies for 2013,” at the Inside Sales Virtual Summit.  Krogue’s presentation looked at a 2013 study InsideSales.com conducted ranking the effectiveness of lead generation methodologies. (A YouTube video of Krogue’s session is embedded at the end of this article.)

“Social media is exciting.  We all love it, but it hasn’t really gotten the traction yet of some of the other medias,” Krogue said.

Even social media gurus like Guy Kawasaki recognize it is not the most effective medium.  Krogue relayed a conversation he had with Kawasaki two days before the event.

“We made a bet on how we were going to fill this large virtual trade show, and he [Kawasaki] bet that 70 percent would be filled by email and 30 percent by social media,” Krogue said. “He is a social media guru. He has 4.5 million followers on Google+, 1.5 million on Twitter, but he felt email would fill more seats than the social media would.”

Krogue thinks social media will be more effective at lead generation in the future, and he will figure out how with the help of his research-based business intelligence team.

Using Time and Resources More Effectively

Even though marketing and sales teams are wasting time with social media, they are using their resources wisely in a few other areas. The top three most used methodologies are also the most effective at generating both leads and awareness: corporate websites, emails and tradeshows.

However, they are still missing out on a few key opportunities to bring in more quality leads. InsideSales.com’s study shows webinars, search marketing, seminars and telemarketing are effective but aren’t being used as much.

“It’s all about the leads,” Krogue said. The lead generation study pinpointed the top business to business marketing challenges.  The No. 1 challenge was generating more leads.  The No. 2 problem was improving the quality of those leads.

Social Media Least Effective, Outbound Marketing Most Effective

Ken Krogue Inside Sales Virtual Summit Session

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When grouping the methodologies into categories, social media was by far the least effective category, while the less utilized outbound marketing methods proved highly effective.

(Most Effective to Least Effective)

  • Outbound Marketing (inside sales and telemarketing)
  • Event Marketing (virtual tradeshows, webinars, seminars and physical tradeshows)
  • Online marketing (websites, search and blogs)
  • Traditional marketing (radio, TV, advertising and outdoor marketing)
  • Social media

Krogue said the surgical nature of outbound marketing is what makes it so powerful. “Every call is designed to drive a lead, and there’s not a lot of slippage,” Krogue said. “So, there is a specific brand being built and a specific lead being generated.”

Best Social Media Platforms for Lead Generation

While social media as a whole is overrated for lead generation, LinkedIn is the most effective social platform.

“The social media platform that is the strongest is LinkedIn.  I personally love LinkedIn and would probably give it a higher rank than the survey did,” Krogue said.  “Another study we conducted found a 700 percent increase in response ratios to messages sent through LinkedIn over email with the exact same content.”

Facebook is the next most used and most effective social media site; although it is more geared toward business to consumer and less toward business to business.

Google+ is less used than Twitter but more effective.  Pinterest is the least used and the least effective.

Social Media Is Overrated For Lead Generation

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Changing Your Approach for More and Better Leads

Krogue suggests taking some time to look at the methodologies you have in place.  Are you utilizing the most effective mediums, or are you spending the bulk of your time with those that are less effective like social media?

“Take some time to look at the methodologies that are highly effective and maybe underutilized in your own environment.  Put them to work because it’s really all about the leads,” Krogue said.  “Do your best to always move from less assertive methodologies to those that are more assertive and more effective.  That’s where the results are.”

For a more complete look at the top lead generation methodologies, Krogue’s entire presentation is embedded below as well as on InsideSales.com’s YouTube channel.

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10 thoughts on “Why Social Media Is Overrated For Lead Generation

  1. Hi
    Interesting article. As with all statistics they can be skewed to tell any story you want.

    Guy Kawasaki’s emails would never be as effective as they are without his social channels connecting and engaging people, driving traffic to his website to sign up for his emails….

    As with any marketing or technology strategy the tools and tactics you can use vary and are relevant to the business objectives, target audience and overall strategy being implemented.

    So for one company Pinterest could be their single most important channel to connect and engage buyers where as another may benefit more from email or trade shows. You cannot just lump them altogether and say social is ineffective.

    Saying Social media hasn’t got the traction of other medias is misleading to say the least. With more than 1 billion users Facebook is proof in point. Twitter for millions of people is where they hear about news, trends etc for the first time, before any other media.

    What other media can you measure conversion rates, traffic, sentiment better than email or social? None.

    I’d also call to question whether telemarketing is really delivering. I can’t say that I have ever felt positive about a company trying to cold call me with an offer…
    Consumers don’t want interruption marketing, cold calls or spam. Consumers do want to be educated, entertained and helped through proactive content, search and social engagement.

    Personally 80% of my business leads come through social media. I know of and work with plenty of organisations where social media marketing is a critical piece of their marketing strategy.

    It’s important to note that there’s never one golden egg. In todays world you need all pieces of the puzzle to work together to earn your ROI.

    So I find this article a little self serving, a little biased and factually incorrect, IMHO.

    Justin Flitter

    • Thank you for your comment. This is a really controversial topic, and different insight is great.

      We at InsideSales.com love LinkedIn and utilize other social media platforms as well; however, when it comes to generating actual leads, specifically in business-to-business sales, it hasn’t yielded the results of some of the other mediums YET. It is definitely growing in use and impact, and depending on different types of business, the impact is certain to be different–especially business-to-consumer.

      I agree that there isn’t one golden egg. It is important to make sure you aren’t spending an excessive amount of money and resources on one form of marketing–especially one that doesn’t generate as good of results. I would advocate looking at your individual marketing model and seeing what works for you; however, this study provides general insight that might have otherwise been overlooked.

      Telemarketing–business-to-consumer–can be very irritating. However, selling over the phone to other businesses is becoming the norm (http://www.insidesales.com/insider/remote-sales/the-demise-of-outside-sales/) and is effective.

      Which social media platforms do you find most effective, and how do you utilize them? What is your market?

      • Brittany,

        I just wanted to thank you for a very interesting study.

        We are a vendor of social media lead generation tools and we found the study reflects our clients’ experiences.

        It does indeed seem to be the case that scouring social media for leads (buy intentions) may not in and of itself find you the right kind of people to sell to.

        Fortunately for us there seem to be other uses of the social media lead generation methods we support in Selasdia because of which our clients do not want to discard the tools we provide them.

        You can read about our experiences on our blog: http://www.selasdia.com/blog/?p=184

        A request:

        Could you share some information on the specifics of the social media lead generation processes and strategies that were evaluated for this article?

        Did the firms that were evaluated just do content marketing on their accounts, and wait for clients to respond to the content?

        Did they actively search for and involve themselves in social media discussions?

        Did they actually hunt for leads (and on which channels?)

        We’d love to know what was evaluated from a strategy perspective for clients. Maybe that would make a great next article 🙂

        And thank you for this wonderful (albeit sobering) report.

        Cohan Carlos
        CEO, Selasdia

  2. Justin,
    Social media does have value. What the research is showing is that many B2B sales teams have not been able to use social media to generate leads. Telemarketing is almost a dirty word among consumers. But in the B2B world, one of the most profitable ways to generate new business remains to sell by phone.

    • Well obviously if you put social media at the bottom of your list in terms of importance and value then you’re going to struggle to get results. I bet those B2B companies that have made social networking and content marketing a priority are generating quality leads, new sales and retaining customers.
      Likewise those companies using telemarketing as their predominant lead gen and sales tool are successfully doing so too.

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