Facebook vs LinkedIn: Which is best for B2B marketing?

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LinkedIn is arguably the first port of call for most B2B marketers. But Facebook’s technology, volume of users and data (although a touchy subject at the moment) allow it to compete effectively in the B2B space.

94% of B2B marketers feel LinkedIn is the most reliable to distribute business related content – but is that because LinkedIn has always been the go-to B2B platform?

The Channels In Numbers

Facebook, as of the fourth quarter of 2017, had 2.2 billion monthly active users. In comparison, LinkedIn has over 500 million users with an estimated 23-25% being active. In addition, users tend to spend more time on Facebook – for Facebook, it’s about 35 minutes per day, while LinkedIn users spend a mere 17 minutes per month using the product.

Without any debate we can see that any advertising and promotional activity on Facebook could potentially reach a far larger audience.
But we’re marketers. We don’t care about how big the audience is – we care about how big our ‘target’ audience is.

(Another) but – our target audience are people. And people have other interests outside of their jobs. Just because they are in an out-of-work environment it doesn’t stop them from being business professionals, with responsibilities and a drive to make a difference in their roles.

With this in mind, it seems which channel to use is based upon cost (surprise, surprise) and the ability to find your target audience.

Which Is Cheaper For Advertising – Facebook or LinkedIn?

Broadly speaking, you’ll pay less per click with Facebook – according to Adstage the average CPC for Facebook in 2017 was $0.99, in comparison LinkedIn was a whopping $6.50. It’s important to bear in mind that these figures are across all industries alongside a huge number of other variables.

However, it is not really unexpected. With more people on Facebook, spending more time scrolling, it will invariably lead to more customers for the same level of cost.

This may not always be the case, but if you’re targeting a similar audience on both LinkedIn and Facebook, the latter often has a lower CPC. Is this really an issue though if you are selling a big-ticket item or service? Who cares if it costs you $100 per lead in comparison to $30 if you’re landing a $250,000 sale?

Well, the truth is that you do – why pay more for the same? If LinkedIn is so much more expensive, should we even considering it as an option and what place does it have in our B2B marketing strategy?

Looking at cost alone puts Facebook well ahead of LinkedIn, but that’s only part of the story. Cheaper clicks are great, but you could be throwing good money after bad if the ‘clicks’ are not coming from your target audience.

Targeting Your Audience: LinkedIn vs Facebook

When it comes to reaching a target audience for B2C Facebook have it on lock-down (that’s right, we’re can be street here at Tribal17). Facebook has 98 data points that you can use to target your ads, again this totally overshadows LinkedIn’s ad targeting options.

Both Facebook and LinkedIn cover the basics for B2B targeting – location, age, gender, education, job title, employer and industry.

However, relevant data points for B2B targeting such as job title, employer, industry etc are more likely to be populated and kept up to date on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has the option to target employees (or even past employees) of specific companies, by specific industry, companies of a particular size and beyond job title – job function and seniority. In addition, you can target individuals who are in specific business focused groups on LinkedIn alongside specific skills they have included on their profile.

It would be very easy to target CTOs of financial services companies, with over 100 employees based in London with LinkedIn.

To do the same on Facebook may be slightly more difficult, as your target audience may not have all their details up to date or populated on their profile. Not to worry though, you can use ‘industry’ and ‘interests’ data points on Facebook to get around such inconveniences, and arguably cast your net wider. So, you could target the following audiences:

– Those with the job title of CTO working in financial services that are living within a 50 mile radius from London.

– Those that work in IT with an income of over £100,000 and are living within a 50 mile radius from London.

– Those that have an interest in Technology with an income of over £100,000 and are living within a 50 mile radius from London.

When it comes to identifying specific individuals in specific industries or at companies of a certain size, and if you want to isolate them by geographical area, LinkedIn makes this easy to do and execute. Facebook offers ways to do this, but it forces you to be flexible with your approach.

You can be confident that your campaign will be seen by the right audience, although your CPC maybe higher it could be argues that your CTR will be better along with your lead quality.

But it doesn’t end there. Facebook doesn’t go down without a fight.

Remarketing & Lookalike Audiences

Facebook is way ahead of the game when it comes to ad technology, it offers a better optimization algorithm, greater traffic volume and a variety of ad types. You don’t need to tell Facebook that you’re interested in Entrepreneurism – if you click on something related to this, it now knows.

Let’s not forget, LinkedIn only introduced the ability to match audiences on the platform to data you already hold shortly after the Microsoft acquisition in 2017.

Fundamentally, what ever you can do on Facebook with respect to remarketing and lookalike audiences you can do on LinkedIn, and vice versa – but there are some areas to consider:

Website Audiences
The simplest form of retargeting, add code from a particular platform to your site and you can deliver ads to your visitors on that platform.

With both Facebook and LinkedIn you can segment the traffic by pages they visit, or don’t visit, and deliver them an appropriate ad. For Facebook you need just 20 visitors to kick this off, with LinkedIn thought the number is 300. So, if you have low website traffic, LinkedIn won’t even be part of the equation.

Matched Audiences
Upload a list of email addresses of prospects to either platform, they’ll match to their users and deliver relevant content.

The issue here is which email address do you have – their work or personal? If you have a vast list of work email addresses barely any will match to Facebook profiles – I mean, who uses their work email address to set up their Facebook account?

If you have a list of personal email addresses they may be equally as useless on LinkedIn – although some do add their work and personal email addresses to their profile. It is likely that senior decision makers, particularly owner/founders will use their work email addresses.

For this feature, Facebook would fall short of the glory.

Account Targeting
Have a list of companies that you want to target? Upload to LinkedIn create a campaign, refine further by using their data points to create a list of decision makers.

Sorry, Facebook – LinkedIn has got you here!

Lookalike Audiences
Target people who are similar to your customers by using data such as page fans, customer lists, or website visitors. Both Facebook and LinkedIn offer similar functionalities that leverage their algorithms to deliver your campaigns to audiences that display similar attributes to your customers or prospects.

Facebook’s technology is far ahead of LinkedIn’s, alongside a much larger user base and significantly more data points – so it would be expected that Facebook would deliver better results in this area. However, results can only be as good as the data provided.

Much like the issues with ‘Matched Audiences’, if you upload a list with unmatchable email addresses the Facebook algo will have much less to go on. However, you could leverage the Facebook pixel and base your audience of those that have visited certain pages of your site – such as a checkout page if you have a SaaS product, for example.

Facebook & LinkedIn Ad Types

Both Facebook and LinkedIn a variety of ad types, we have compiled a brief overview of what ad types are available on both platforms and which are unique to each platform.

Sponsored posts

LinkedIn’s sponsored updates work similar to Facebook’s sponsored posts. Both offer sponsored posts with images or videos. These appears smack dab in the middle of your audience’s news feed, this leads to more engagement. Video ads tend to get more engagement in comparison to static images.

Facebook also offer the two further alternatives

Carousel ads – Originally created for e-commerce advertisers, but can definitely be used in B2B advertising. Carousel ads allow the user to scroll sideways through a handful of images.

Slideshow ads – From a set of images you can create a brief slideshow, these are effective if you don’t have a good video, or to target regions with a slow connection.

Lead ads

Get leads directly from either the Facebook or LinkedIn news feed, without sending users to your site. You can collect the user’s details like name, email, phone number, company etc. When a user clicks on the ad your lead form will pop up, pre-populated with their details.

These are great to use when combined with a remarketing strategy – serving these ads to those that have already visited product pages without buying and offering a call back or demo is likely to deliver solid leads.

Linkedin offer several additional types of ads not found on Facebook:

Sponsored InMail

Having recently made Sponsored InMail available to all marketers, this function provides advertisers the ability to send a form or an email style message to any of LinkedIn’s 500 million users. The InMail feature also uses LinkedIn’s segmenting features to choose a highly targeted group of users to send your message to.

Display & text ads

These ads can appear in multiple places such as within a user’s inbox or on the side or bottom of the LinkedIn homepage. You can include an image or video, as well as ad copy.

There’s More To It Than Cost, Targeting & Ad Types…

Hopefully, you now have a through overview of the reach and depth of each platform, targeting options and ad types. You may be thinking that with Facebook’s audience, almost limitless targeting options, ad types and lower cost it is the clear winner of the B2B battle.

But wait.

Let’s drop some knowledge on you…

– 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn vs. 7% on Facebook.

– 59% of B2B marketers say LinkedIn generates leads for their business, more than double that say Facebook generates leads for them

– LinkedIn users are 4x more likely to visit your website than Facebook users are.

– LinkedIn generates the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate at 2.74%, more than 3x higher than Twitter (.69%) and Facebook (.77%).

These stats suggest that LinkedIn is far superior in delivering B2B leads in both quantity and quality.

The question is, why?

Well, the answer is likely to be the demographic of their users, coupled with their mindset while on the platform – 61 million LinkedIn users are senior level influencers and 40 million are in decision-making positions and 7 out of 10 professionals describe LinkedIn as a “trustworthy” source of professional content.

In simple terms, you could argue that 1 in 10 are prospective buyers of your product.

LinkedIn makes up more than 50% of all social traffic to B2B websites & blogs. Facebook may have more monthly active users, but LinkedIn clearly separates itself as the go-to for B2B content distribution.

And The Winner Is…

The truth is that we can’t say one platform is better than the other for B2B lead generation.

Broadly speaking, if you have a small budget, targeting small local businesses then Facebook could be your bag. If, however, you have a larger budget and are targeting large corporates then LinkedIn would be your go-to channel.

To be more specific we suggest beginning with some audience research. Both platforms offer self-service ad tools, so it is really easy to find where your audience lives, the size on each platform and an estimate for serving ads to them.

From here, you can begin testing ad types and creative with a small budget and measure conversion rates. Some simple maths will bring you to the average cost per acquisition.

One final thing to bear in mind – although one platform may deliver more conversions for less money, don’t forget to also measure the quality of the lead and the value of the sale.

Hopefully you find this guide helpful and has aided your decision in which platform to use.

Good luck with your B2B marketing strategy!

 

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