Friday, February 19, 2010

Social Media Automation: How to Drown the Seeds of Leads

We enjoy a good debate here at The Content Factor, and we're watching one play out on the Demand Gen Report Blog.
  • Marketo's Jon Miller blogged on "Seed Nurturing," suggesting some new practices for using social media to "turbo charge" lead nurturing.

    Miller writes:
    "For example, after identifying a prospect’s Twitter username, follow his or her Twitter conversations that include relevant keywords, and track this data in your marketing automation system."

  • Malcolm Friedberg of Left Brain Marketing makes an engaging counterpoint in "Seed Nurturing? Not Unless You're Walt Whitman."

    Friedberg writes:
    "Call me cynical, but I’m not comfortable betting my job on whether anonymous leads will 'likely' surface from the social media world and appear on my front door."
For all the conversation about social media in B2B marketing, real best practices for generating leads from it are still bleeding edge. According to the latest Raab Guide to Demand Generation Systems, no standard approach has emerged.

Although on a high level I agree with "seed nurturing," (as stated in a previous post, "Are We Torching Our Leads?" which advocated the registration-free white paper download), the detailed practices that Miller describes in his Demand Gen Report post seem far-fetched to me. The B2B marketers I work with don't have the resources to follow prospects on Twitter, trend their topics, and look for signs that they are in the early stages of a buying cycle.

And, if getting a phone call ten minutes after downloading a white paper wasn't bad enough, a demand generation solution that provides Twitter-trending functionality is even more "Big Brother." (Will I get a phone call from Marketo after I tweet this blog post?)

Social media is the realm of public relations and thought leadership marketing, not of metrics-driven lead generation. There are some amazing tools emerging for marketers to analyze information as it travels through the social media, but is it realistic for these tools to help marketers warm-up prospects for sales? I will side with the cynics for now.

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Paul, don't worry... we won't call you unless you want us to. :-) Seed nurturing is all about building relationships with people on their pace, over the channels they use -- not calling people before they want a call.
I think you make some valid points around the idea that calling someone based on a Tweet can seem like "stalking" and overly intrusive. Rather than thinking about social media as a way to start to call and annoy more people, marketers should use social media as part of an overall inbound marketing strategy where they use content, social media and SEO to attract more prospects into their business. We use social media as a big part of our marketing at HubSpot, but we don't call people based on their social media messages. We publish lots of content, and we build relationships using our content and community. Then, when people are ready, they start a free trial of our software or they contact us, giving us permission to talk to them.

Social media is an important part of inbound marketing, but you are right that it can also be misused.
Hey Paul,

In this online world the rules of engagement are changing and customers are expecting more immediate service. Those that "watch and wait" are missing out on opportunities to engage on topics of concern, ultimately serving their customer better. Social media monitoring tools can help and best practices are emerging to help us all leverage these tools for the win-win.
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