linked-inMention the phrase “social network” and most people, whether fans of the phenomenon or not, are bound to think of Facebook first.

However, it is not the only social network around and despite its mammoth user base, Facebook is apparently no match for LinkedIn when it comes to generating visitor-to-lead conversions for B2B companies.

This is according to a study conducted by marketing software developer HubSpot, whose findings used data on social media traffic for 3,128 of its B2B customers. The study looked at the top three social networks – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – and evaluated their performance in 2011 with regard to B2B lead generation.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn was created as a communication platform for the business community and it is safe to assume that its very nature makes it a far more effective marketing tool for B2B operators. In contrast, Facebook and Twitter are platforms better suited to the needs of consumers and B2C companies.

HubSpot´s study found that the average visitor-to-lead conversion rate for LinkedIn in 2011 was 2.60%. This exceeds four times the figure for Twitter and seven times that for Facebook, whose respective conversion rates stood at 0.67% and 0.39%.

Besides leading the competition on that count, LinkedIn is also doing better than Facebook and Twitter in terms of growth rate, according to a separate report from Compete. In March 2012 LinkedIn had 28.1m unique users, which made for year-on-year growth of 60.7%. The number for Twitter was 42m, or 35.5% higher, while Facebook achieved a 20.7% increase to 169.9m visitors.