White Paper Marketing Case Study, Social Networking

By Michael Stelzner

Can you leverage social media to generate leads with white papers?

Business intelligence company Information Builders did just that. A recent MarketingSherpa report reveals how they did it.

Here are the highlights:

Information Builders leveraged a B2B social networking site to distribute a series of white papers. But there’s more to this story.

Chris Boylan, Information Builders director of Internet marketing wanted to generate leads without making his company feel like an intruder on the site.

First, they spent an entire year sponsoring an email discussion group. They monitored the type of people involved in the discussions.

Then, they created a series of white papers that were high level educational pieces.

“There has to be a blend between thought pieces and other pieces that show we have the expertise to bring this in to deploy it at your site and make it successful,” Boylan says.

The company promoted the white papers using an RSS feed related to business intelligent, in the weekly email newsletters of the social networking site and on blogs and discussion groups.

The Results

The social network audience responded positively. Information Builders exceeded their lead generation goals by 42 percent and had a 750% return on investment.

The thought leadership papers brought in the most leads with titles such as “Establishing a Culture of Measurement: A Practical Guide to Business Intelligence.”

Boylan explained:

“With these high-level pieces, we’re being seen as a thought leader. So, when people come to point of identifying a short list of vendors for their own BI implementation, they’ll hopefully look at us as the ones who helped them come up with their whole project plan.”

What are your thoughts about this study?


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  • http://tappingcreativity.blogspot.com Geoff

    I think this is a great idea. The first rule of social media is finding the right community for your product/service. Clearly this would not have worked on MySpace or Facebook. Yet, the right network, with the right information, and it worked. Bravo for the B2B folks.

  • http://www.writingwhitepapers.com/blog/ Michael Stelzner

    Thanks for your thoughts Geoff!

  • http://globalhumancapital.org Christopher Rollyson


    Thanks for sharing; I have several current clients who are struggling mentally to cross the divide into collaborative authoring. We all know that the “push model” of marketing is dead (okay, in a coma) but opening up the process and facilitating customers’ in a process of thought leadership and sharing will be where the action is. Glimmers of this show through in your piece here. Thoughts?

    All the best- Chris

  • http://www.excitedincome.com William Noel

    When you couple Social Networking with videos, your information becomes 100X more powerful!! Thanks!

  • http://www.upfuse.com Social Marketplace

    Thanks for the write up Michael. RSS is a very viable but overlooked strategy to tap into this niche.

  • http://www.powerwealthcreation.com/how-to-become-an-entrepreneur.html B. Rene Williams

    Michael, this is great advice! I’m always trying to find better ways to use social networking to get the word out about my business. Writing unique content is always the best way, but letting people know about you is the second half of the battle! Thanks for the info.

  • http://peopleme.org/ tina

    Certainly a well thought out strategy where RSS has been put to good use but I dont seem to have the patience to wait so long for results!!

  • http://www.flippinsticky.com Carrie2

    Adding this to my bookmarks. Thank You

  • http://www.mandarich.com/social-media-marketing/social-network-marketing.html Tony

    I think this study was great; definitely portrays the usefulness of social network marketing. Getting original content delivered in unique and resourceful ways is the key element of success, and with the addition of RSS feeds, this task can be more effective.

    Thanks for taking the time to post the study.