Social Media and B2B Lead Generation


Share on LinkedIn

A recent Survey by Hubspot, “The 2011 State of Inbound Marketing” offers statistics on the average cost per lead for Inbound vs. Outbound marketing in 2010-2011 for North American companies. With social media budgets increasing between 2010 and 2011, social media channels seem to surpass paid search for inbound marketing.

Lead Generation Budget for 2011

eMarketer quotes this survey and opines that inbound leads via blogs and social media are the least expensive inbound leads (actually, they use the term “cheapest leads”!)

I’d like to examine this statement – is it really true? Maybe…but are the leads quality ones. With social media, it becomes even more important to recognize this difference.

As discussed on my blog earlier, there is a critical difference between a sales ready lead and a hand-raiser type of lead. I have still not seen a B2B process to monetize B2B output from social media programs to a sales qualified lead. Too much unstructured data may be the issue. Let us not confuse “activities” with “results” at this point.

There is no doubt in my mind that we will be seeing a lot more inbound leads via blogs and social media; and of course, this is a good thing. It is also natural that it is the least expensive form of getting inbound leads, because of the delivery medium and how affordable it is to any business. Some will argue that “…the great equalizer (social media) has delivered again, reduced costs and increased leads…” My concern with this type of blanket statement is based on the fact that one cannot lose sight of our definition of a sales ready lead.

Social media channels do and will deliver a lot of hand-raisers and most likely increase traffic to your site. But this is precisely what has been plaguing the B2B demand generation world for years. Poor definition of what is a lead, too many unqualified inquiries. Increased volume means nothing unless you have a way to monetize it. Where is the ROI?

I will even go further and say that unfiltered social media hand-raisers (not leads) can cause a company more harm than good as they will bog down the process.

I would have no issues with the eMarketer comment if they changed the term “cheapest leads” to “inexpensive first engagement”. There is a world of difference between traffic to a landing page, a website visit, a response to a blog post, to a highly qualified lead where and when you have the following components – right company, right person, pain point identified, timeline to purchase and a willingness to engage.

So, in my opinion, let’s not get too excited just yet about social media producing the least expensive leads (or cheapest leads). We can agree on one thing – social media for B2B lead generation is a great first step to drive the process.

How is your company leveraging social media for demand generation? Leave me a comment below.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Louis Foong
Louis Foong is the founder and CEO of The ALEA Group Inc., one of North America's most innovative B2B demand generation specialists. With more than three decades of experience in the field, Louis is a thought leader on trends, best practices and issues concerning marketing and lead generation. Louis' astute sense of marketing and sales along with a clear vision of the evolving lead generation landscape has proved beneficial to numerous organizations, both small and large.


  1. Great points you have there Louis. Also your words are wise and so true. Having a clear definition of a lead is necessary to jump start any lead generation campaign including social media. Being clear about the definition of a lead would guide us in the day-to-day decisions we make and actions we take on the project. Thanks for the knowledge. Have a great day/night!


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here