Recent reports suggest that as much as marketers like social media, they’re not spending proportionately on the new channel.
A new report from Pardot -- focused on B2B marketers -- finds a different problem. Enterprise marketers are spending millions of dollars annually on social marketing, the cloud marketing automation software vendor finds, although nearly 30% are not tracking the impact of such campaigns on lead generation and sales.
And among those who do, about 42% of marketers replied that zero or an uncertain number of sales leads resulted from social media programs -- a startlingly high percentage, according to Pardot, given the resources required to operate the campaigns.
Based on input from dozens of company interviews, a full 95% of B2B marketers indicated they use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube or corporate blogs to reach prospects, Pardot found.
Pardot, for its part, suggests that the gap between cost and return for social marketing may have something to do with social media protocols within companies, which are still evolving.
According to survey respondents, approximately 11% of marketers said their companies have a formal social media policy.
A full 55% said contacting a social media-generated sales lead by phone or email is appropriate, even if the prospect had not invited the vendor to do so.
Meanwhile, 48% said it is appropriate to respond to a prospect via social media, if the prospect contacted the vendor via email or phone first.
Also of note, 100% of respondents said it is acceptable to invite a prospect to join a marketer’s online social networks, though some suggested the invites be limited to networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora, Plaxo and YouTube, versus more personal sites like Facebook.
What’s more, 31% said it is acceptable to critique a competitor via social media
“Social media is an exciting and enticing sales and marketing medium, but best practices are clearly still emerging,” said Adam Blitzer, co-founder and COO for Pardot.
Another obstacle facing marketers who are engaged in social media is the tools and services they use for implementing and measuring their campaigns. According to the survey, over 64% of respondents use “internal, free tools” only to manage social media campaigns, which may or may not be ideal for effective program management. Meanwhile, only 9% rely on an outside agency or social media expert for help with social media marketing.
Separately, the survey also revealed that Twitter was the most popular social media channel, followed by LinkedIn and Facebook, while, social bookmarking services and paid channels including promoted tweets were cited as the least popular tools.