LinkedIn is for business. Facebook is for fun. Both are people-based marketing opportunities to reach your audience. So as a B2B marketer, which do you choose?
The first thought may be to jump on LinkedIn for marketing to prospects (after all, it is the platform for business professionals). But let’s not dismiss Facebook as a real option for B2B companies just yet.
To determine which social media platform is best for B2B businesses, we decided to compare the two for you, looking at everything from cost to technology. Here’s what you need to know when thinking about using Facebook vs. LinkedIn for your advertising needs, and how it can help inform your marketing strategy.
1. First Up, User Base (aka, Who Has More People?)
To start off, let’s look at the sheer number of users on each platform. As of 2017, Facebook has roughly 2 billion active users worldwide. On the flip side, LinkedIn has about 106 million active users. But what’s more interesting isn’t how many users each social platform claims, but how much time the users are spending on the platform. For Facebook, it’s about 35 minutes per day, while LinkedIn users spend a mere 17 minutes per month using the product.
Here’s a pretty graph to help visualize that…
Not only does Facebook have an enormous user base, those people are also spending more time engaged on the platform. So in this category, there’s really no argument which platform comes out on top.
2. Paid Social Cost (aka, Let’s Talk Money)
Typically, you’ll get more bang for your buck with Facebook. Why? Simply put: there are more people on the platform who are scrolling for longer periods of time (see above graph). Larger user base + more time spent on the platform = more affordable ads, as Facebook can show more ads to each user while keeping a reasonable ad to user post ratio.
Now, this isn’t always the case. But we’ve found that even if you’re targeting a similar audience on both LinkedIn and Facebook, the latter often has a lower CPC. This might not be a problem if you’re selling something that costs thousands of dollars (what’s a $100 CPL if that person turns into a $500,000 client?), but if your product or service is lower in cost, Facebook is probably a more affordable option. You just might have to get creative with how you set up the campaign.
3. Targeting Options and Lead Quality
Any smart marketer knows that just because generating leads is cheaper through one channel, that doesn’t necessarily make it better (especially if you’re selling some expensive stuff). So if Facebook is typically the cheaper option, why even bother with LinkedIn?
To a degree, both social platforms are based on user input—things you say about yourself. And because people use LinkedIn and Facebook for different reasons (professional vs. personal), things like job titles and employers tend to be more up-to-date and accurate on LinkedIn than on Facebook (B2B targeting technically exists on Facebook, even if it is just a subset of a larger option). You’re more likely to find active, business-focused groups to target on LinkedIn as well. Add in the fact that a user might be more willing to click on a “business” ad on a “business” platform and LinkedIn looks pretty attractive to the B2B marketer.
But don’t be fooled. If your target audience is on LinkedIn, they’re probably on Facebook, too. They just might be harder to find. Lucky for you, Facebook has a ton of targeting options, and blows LinkedIn out of the water when it comes to targeting based on psychographic data. So if you’re still looking for a particular audience on LinkedIn, you might just have to try a different strategy to find them on Facebook. For example, to find those “UX designers” on Facebook you could try targeting people interested in web design.
All that being said, lead quality for B2B business tends to be better on LinkedIn.
4. Ad Types
If you’re looking for variety, Facebook has a lot to choose from, including canvas, carousel, video, dynamic, and lead ads, to name a few (see below image). On the other hand, LinkedIn covers just the basics—display, text and lead ads, sponsored content, and sponsored inMail.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with the basics. In fact, simple ads might be better for your brand or product. But if you’re looking to do something more visual, just know that you’ll have more options on Facebook.
When it comes to ad technology, Facebook has LinkedIn beat (for now, at least). Part of this is probably because Facebook is pretty massive, and therefore has tons of data. They also leverage a lot of clickstream data and constantly tag your interests based on your activity. That means you don’t actually have to tell Facebook you’re interested in celebrity gossip—if you click on it, they’ll know.
But while Facebook has been largely the innovator in social media ad technology, LinkedIn has been making up ground—launching new audience networks and matched audience targeting in 2017 (thanks, Microsoft). Which is really great, but for the time being…
So Who’s the Winner? That’s for You to Figure Out
So which is actually best for your product? Well, that all depends (see above). If you’re simply glancing over the categories, it looks like Facebook has LinkedIn beat. But if the thing you care about most is lead quality...then LinkedIn might be the way to go.
Choosing a channel is only half the battle. With tons of options and data available to marketers, we need to remember that we are, in fact, still marketers who must deliver a compelling offer. No matter how great the targeting, you’re never going to drive leads, increase revenue, grow your user base, or achieve whatever your goal may be by simply pushing subpar offers to your target audience.
In the end, social media advertising gives us the tools to reach people in a way we’ve never been able to before. Now you just have to figure out which channel is best for your campaign (and choosing both isn’t cheating either).
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