B2B marketers are focused on lead generation more than they are on lead nurturing. The problem is that without the nurturing, generating leads is merely an exercise in trying to scrape the 10% who may be ready to buy and then dumping the rest into an afterthought category.

Likewise, 78% of marketers say that they’re ramping up their social media use this year. One of their main metrics is the number of followers, likes or RSS feed subscriptions they can amass.

The problem with all of this isn’t the number of people who click to follow, it’s how marketers are going about engaging them.

Take a look at what happens when your messaging isn’t perceived as “relevant”:

  • 49% unsubcribed to email streams they’d opted into previously
  • 43% have “unliked” a company on Facebook, 38% due to irrelevance
  • 52% have unfollowed a brand on Twitter
[See the report The Social Media Breakup]

Part of what causes this is that companies make assumptions about what customers want via a relationship on social media. A new study by IBM found that the perception gap is likely wider than you think:

The study recommends that, “Instead of asking why your company should engage in social media, ask why a customer would choose to interact with your company in a social platform. Recast social interaction strategies to focus on giving customers the value they seek and the customer intimacy will come.

In other words, whether social media, email, blogging, articles, white papers, eBooks, videos, podcasts, etc., the perceived value of the content is what you’re being judged on every time. In all cases, just showing up is not going to work.

Before you set your expectations too high, consider that many customers in this study said they chose to interact with brands that they already had a strong relationship with. Perhaps the ramp up strategy for social media should actually be customer nurturing instead of new lead generation. Or, maybe it means using it later in your lead nurturing programs to create cross-over between channels once you’ve started building that relationship.

Those are just a few things to think about.

But the gist is that we do need to think about them. We need to listen and plan before we engage. We need to decide on which goals are the most appropriate for our company to pursue, given what we hear. And we need to make sure that the experience we offer across all our channels is consistently, well, relevant.

After all, 75% of executives say they believe that reaching out to customers via social media will improve customer advocacy. Unfortunately only 38% of customers agree.

I’d say we have some work to do.