Free Webcast: Using Data and Design to Create a Knockout Email Nurture Program – Learn More ›
Popular Today in Business: All Popular Articles

Is There a RIGHT Way to Use Twitter for B2B Lead Generation?

B2B Marketing

Many Studies, Reports and Examples—And Yet, Inconclusive Evidence

The interesting Infographic I shared last week shows that 170 million people are on Twitter. It also says that “Twitter tops B2B lead generation, outperforming Facebook and LinkedIn 9 to 1. 82% of social media leads come from Twitter. Google+ establishes itself firmly in the mainstream of social networking with 9400% increase in followers since last year.”

These “facts” seem to be circulating from the Optify study. But tell me, how many times have you read or heard someone actually tell you that Twitter really is the best social media channel for B2B lead generation? I do wonder—where is the evidence? Have there been any good case studies to show how Twitter tops B2B lead generation or is this a chicken and egg scenario? Both the Infographic and the Optify report make a good case about why a company should have a presence on Twitter and ensure it is part of their strategy. I am just not convinced about how effective it is…is it really? I surmise the term “leads” really means an interested inquiry in these claims.

Here is how I imagine “leads” are obtained on Twitter and other popular social platforms—in my opinion, this is the wrong way:

Is There a RIGHT Way to Use Twitter for B2B Lead Generation? image making friends with social media

Related Resources from B2C
» Free Webcast: Using Data and Design to Create a Knockout Email Nurture Program

This cartoon may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I have seen companies and individuals using Twitter to broadcast multiple self-promotional Tweets on auto-pilot and “badger” someone until they click on the link. In my recent post on The Top Social Media Skills Marketing Executives Need in 2013, I listed the #1 skill as “have the ability to determine what counts, what doesn’t.” So let’s ask the question—is Twitter something that counts in B2B lead generation or not?

Tooting the Twitter Horn—More Noise in the Social Media World!

The 2013 Social Media Benchmarking Report says that “Twitter is the business to business (B2B) social media platform of choice, favoured by 85 percent of B2B brands, ahead of LinkedIn (82 percent), YouTube (77 percent) and Facebook (71 percent)”. Think about this. The same report also notes that while driving traffic to their website was the primary goal for B2B marketers using social media, almost two-thirds (61 percent) described their social marketing strategy as “ad-hoc”. Are you kidding me? An open declaration based on “ad-hoc” social media marketing strategy?

Ever since this Optify study came out I’ve heard people talking about Twitter as though it is the best thing since sliced bread for B2B. But like I’ve always said, show me the numbers and I’ll become a believer. How can you rely on anything that is “ad hoc”? Thank you to the one smart person who pointed this out.

Let’s look at another study that gives us more examples:

  • Avaya was able to close a $250,000 sale because they responded to a tweet.

I ask—a huge sale from a single tweet? It’s not clear from this post. One case does not make a trend.That’s like telling people about the hole-in-one you got with a certain club.

  • B-Co Communications developed several potential business leads based on media coverage that came from that single tweet.

I ask again—How do you measure this? Did they really get “leads” or just inquiries?

  • Neenah Paper has 10 sales reps who are using their personal Twitter accounts to close new Neenah Paper business.

I ask—are they really getting measurable results or are they wasting time?

Is Twitter the Bitter Pill for B2B Social Media?

In all my years of working with B2B companies day in and day out, not once have I had a prospect or executive whip out his mobile phone to Tweet or say – “Hey that’s a good point, I’m going to Tweet about it!” It just does not happen.

So yes, it is hard for me to believe that some of the busiest people in the world firstly have the time to be on Twitter, and secondly, do enough business on Twitter to make it the #1 choice. Personally, I spend more quality time on LinkedIn than Twitter. I don’t need someone to keep spamming on Twitter to check out this photo they have of me. To answer the main question—have we had our fair share of RT’s and mentions on Twitter? Yes—thanks to some posts like this one about social media lingo that went viral. BUT I would not equate this to leads.

Studies and reports circulating around the web are overwhelming perplexed B2B marketers. Many are wondering if Twitter is indeed the bitter pill for B2B social success. I do not believe it is.

Use the Right Social Media Mix for B2B Marketing—2 Case Studies

Everything has a purpose; the same goes for social media. Use the different social media platforms where they are most effective. A good example is Maersk Line, the global Danish shipping giant which was the subject of a case study presentation.

They used:

  • Facebook to attract attention by sharing positive and negative newsworthy stories, including users’ own images and stories
  • Twitter to share more serious news with the industry-based press and people with a panel of employees to bring expertise and diversity into play
  • Instagram to start a #maersk spotting trend where people around the world shared pictures of Maersk ships and containers which were also shared on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • LinkedIn to set up The Shipping Circle LinkedIn group inviting shipping experts from around the world to debate industry challenges, opportunities, etc.
  • Google+ hangouts to hold smaller press briefings where a few journalists can video conference with executives when the company is launching new initiatives.

I think they did this the right way—used Twitter effectively to broadcast interesting news and brought in a team of experts to bring diversity and expertise into their Twitter account.

Optify also posted an interesting – case study from Twitter about Promoted Tweets with Optify. This could also be an effective way; using a paid Twitter campaign to reach your prospects—like a calculated strike. The only drawback is, you need XXXXXXX million impressions, XXXX to get XXX tweets. The case study shows they had to get 2.12 million impressions and 18.3 thousand clicks which resulted in 242 ReTweets and 53 replies.

In both case studies, the number of leads or sales attributable to these activities was not mentioned. It would be nice to have this. Perhaps they, like many others, are still struggling with how best to measure social ROI.

So you tell me, is Twitter only effective for larger companies who can amass millions of impressions? Or can businesses of all sizes use Twitter to generate leads by following the value driven, customer focused approach?

RT this blog post if you think Twitter is a must for B2B lead generation. You can also email or call me, Louis Foong, at (905) 709-3827.

Image: 1000 Words / Shutterstock.com

Comments on this Article: 2

Add a Comment
  1. Louis- I understand your point in questioning the validity of innate lead generation on twitter. The SPAM and the noise are effects of the freedom of speech social media networks provide. The catch is that this is both the beauty and a curse. With regard to the barriers twitter embodies for certain components of lead generation, the same can be said for various other social networks relative to B2B or B2C enterprise, LinkedIn inclusive. All social outlets best serve a specific niche target market for businesses in different ways. And these groups use these outlets for specific needs, and rarely crossover. Hence, why Maersk has such different initiatives for the various outlets, while focusing on targeting individuals that will be engaging, which is the key, on these networks.
    And that’s why I have to say that “#twitter” remains a prominent networking tool for B2B lead generation. Why? Because I have more reach through amplification to attract, follow, and strategize front of mind marketing, CTA, and other interests of my target customer. I can keep my customer acquisition costs low through various tactics to frame content at and for that conversion. I agree that most of what is on twitter is just noise, and it does bother me to feel obligated to post when I don’t feel all together that interest. But someone in need of customer experience knowledge can quickly look up #CX and find the help they need from a post by me. Now we are establishing trust. And that’s the power of reciprocity. Which, in my experience, always comes back around.

  2. Phil says:

    there is enough attention with this sort of thing to attract people into your campaign and squeeze leads from it. twitter is a great networking tool because its public. its like facebook and google mixed together.. good read !

Add a Comment:


Thank you for adding to the conversation!

Our comments are moderated. Your comment may not appear immediately.