Adam T. Sutton

Social Media Chart: Which channels are the most effective for inbound marketing?

Social networks used to be the wild west of online marketing. Pioneers launched first, asked questions later, and staked claims on MySpace and Second Life.

Today, most marketers set clear goals and plan before hitting the trail. Your goals will often dictate which networks and tactics to try. Knowing which networks have turned into ghost towns and which are the next Dodge City can also help.

This chart from the MarketingSherpa 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report – SEO Edition shows which social media platforms have proven to be the most effective for inbound marketers.

Inbound marketing social channels chart

Blogging sits comfortably on top. This does not surprise me since creating content is the most effective SEO tactic , and SEO is a vital part of a good inbound strategy.

However, two things do surprise me. First, I expected LinkedIn to rank high with B2Bs, but I did not expect it to so clearly beat Facebook. Fewer than 50% of B2B marketers report that their efforts on Facebook were effective. LinkedIn appears to provide the most effective social network for inbound B2B marketers.

The second thing that surprises me is that YouTube and other video sharing sites are well within the top tier. I have seen great YouTube strategies from a select few marketers, but I did not realize that strong performance was this widespread. I expect even more marketers to start using video sites in the coming years.

Analysis from our benchmark report helps shed light on why sites like YouTube are bringing in the results:

“People are often more willing to watch a short video than read a long blog post, especially if the video is engaging or entertaining. Unlike television commercials, those viewing YouTube videos often are searching for specific information.”

Useful links related to this article:

MarketingSherpa 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report – SEO Edition

Inbound Marketing: A pioneering YouTube video strategy

SEO Tactics Chart: Creating content is the most-effective tactic — here’s how to get started

Members Library — Improve Search Visibility with Video: 5 Strategies

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Inbound Marketing



  1. August 18th, 2011 at 08:15 | #1

    LinkedIn more effective (or at least as effective as) than a blog for B2B? I’m surprised.

  2. August 22nd, 2011 at 10:24 | #2

    I believe “good” video is absolutely key to engagement for inbound strategies and is a growing interest for marketers. Since we help our clients target niche audiences (engineers), we caution against just pushing their hard work out to YouTube as the return (views) tends to be on the lower end. Your video(s) must fit into a larger strategy including your website, social push and some partner distribution.

  3. August 22nd, 2011 at 10:52 | #3

    I run and market a web app in the upper end of the real estate space and the blog (organic search) and linkedin are my primary sources of quality traffic.

    I tried Facebook PPC and the bounce rate was ridiculously high, over 90%, and the lead conversion painfully low – a Linkedin PPC campaign converted at over 30% (click to a lead) and FB was under 5% for the same campaign…

    It didn’t take too long after that to figure out where I’d spend my valuable and limited social media time.

  4. August 22nd, 2011 at 12:29 | #4

    Facebook more effective (80%) for B2B/B2C than all other channels? I am very surprised by that one. Especially with straight B2B being almost half of that.

    Interesting data… look forward to seeing the first surveys that include Google+

  5. August 22nd, 2011 at 14:52 | #5

    Interesting, but not surprising, results. The only thing I would question is your statement that, “most marketers set clear goals and plan before hitting the trail.”
    As I talk to businesses and work with clients, I still find that there is way too little strategy on the front end. Hopefully that will change.

  6. August 22nd, 2011 at 19:17 | #6

    This data is great thanks for sharing it and I agree with Michael that we need to see far more strategic thinking around social by businesses in delivering effective long term engagement strategies. Too many times an approach is tried in the wrong place or an audience is created then abandoned at the end of the campaign. Understanding how to market in the right place and for the long haul is a critical element to driving both business and consumer value

  7. August 22nd, 2011 at 20:09 | #7

    LinkedIn is a shocker. This report really has highlighted for me the importance of the platform. Now to put a plan into action.

  8. August 24th, 2011 at 07:26 | #8

    Why does LinekdIn beat facebook? The root of the matter seems that a user registered in a community still has two roles – one is private, one is related to business. Especially in the European markets not everybody wants to mix these two roles. Et voila, concerning business that’s the need for business networks … May be google+ is going to provide better concepts to act out both roles at the same virtual place?

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