Twitter beats Facebook and LinkedIn for B2B lead generation – or does it?

Twitter is way ahead in the lead generation stakes for the Business to Business sector (if such a thing exists). A year-long study of over 600 B2B organisations looking at more than 215m page views has found that Twitter out-performs Facebook and LinkedIn by 9 to 1 in terms of generating leads. In fact, the research shows that Facebook and LinkedIn are equal in terms of generating leads for B2B companies, falling woefully behind the impact of Twitter.

Twitter and B2B Lead Generation

However, there’s a catch. As with much data, the figures only tell half the story.

For a start, the actual figures are quite small. Social media as a whole only generated 5% of all the traffic to the companies in the study. This is somewhat odd, given that studies from two years ago were finding between 10% and 19% of traffic coming from social. Plus, with 600 companies in this research and 62m site visits over the year it means that on average they were each getting 14 visits a day from social media – 5 from Twitter, 7 from Facebook and 2 from LinkedIn. That’s not really a great deal to make much of an analysis from.

Plus we only know from this study the gross number of leads. What we do not know – and which is much more important – is the conversion rate of those leads. It may well be that none of the 82% of the leads generated by Twitter actually converted into customers, whereas it may be that, say, 10% of the leads from LinkedIn converted. That would mean Twitter could lead to no customers, whereas LinkedIn could lead to actual business in spite of its relatively poor ability to generate leads. It may be the other way round, with Twitter or Facebook leading to high conversion rates and LinkedIn leads being left cold – but the fact is we do not know from this research. The study focuses on “engagement” which is not the same as “business”.

Once again, the data – whilst useful – focuses our minds on the wrong things. It suggests we should switch attention to Twitter to gain B2B leads, rather than using LinkedIn, for instance. The real information we should focus on is conversion rates, not raw data. This study only gives us raw data – the problem is it leads to headlines around the Internet that Twitter and Facebook are better than LinkedIn. And that will lead to people in your world saying that to you – indeed, no doubt, Tweeting such a headline. But if you fall for that line, it may be problematic.

We need to take a step back and think. Do these raw numbers tell us what is really happening with B2B lead generation online?

I have my doubts.

2 thoughts on “Twitter beats Facebook and LinkedIn for B2B lead generation – or does it?”

  1. Twitter certainly seems to outweigh all of our other social presence combined in terms of lead generation, however we have no advertising spend on social media. It may be that the paid for advertising solutions offered would provide a different ratio comparatively.

  2. Graham. From my own data, I know that I get roughly 3 times as much traffic from Twitter as Linkedin (though I’m in the unusual situation of having close to 100,000 Twitter followers – most people don’t have that so I suspect traffic levels would be more even for them). However a visitor from Linkedin is roughly twice as likely to convert as a visitor from Twitter for me.

    This is why it’s critical to track conversions in your analytics. it’s so easy to be misled by just traffic stats.

    The other thing the study can’t tell is “potential”. The businesses studied get more leads currently from Twitter. But if they invested more in Twitter vs Linkedin or Facebook, would they get comparable increases? Or have they already “tapped out” the traffic and leads they can get from Twitter because it’s easier? The only way to tell is through testing.


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