{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.

No_results

That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.

Logo_distressed

Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

For marketers, picking a digital ad platform to use and to master is important and is taken with as much care as any major commitment or purchase.

Here are some strong arguments why Facebook may be a better platform than LinkedIn for your B2B campaigns.

Picking the right digital ad platform for your B2B campaign is one of the most important pre-launch decisions you can make. Sure, you can always change later as your results come in, but it's worthwhile spending time and effort to learn about the platform so you make an informed decision.

In my last post, I provided a methodology for spending this time wisely. I talked about using analytics to compare LinkedIn with Facebook, specifically for B2B.

But in the comments section, it was clear that people also wanted specific reasons why one platform is better than another. Understandably, they just wanted to hear why you'd use one over the other.

So, as I've heaped praise on LinkedIn advertising previously, I'd like to explore reasons why Facebook can be a better platform than LinkedIn for B2B advertising.

Note that this assessment is subjective and full of caveats and conditions, but still I think there are a few things worth discussing which aren't covered well elsewhere.

The terms 

First, however, let me define my terms.

Better: By 'better' I mean that there are instances where you will get better results on Facebook than LinkedIn for a campaign. I don't think it's possible to declare an absolute, overall winner, so I won't bother trying.

B2B: Business to business, or anything that is bought by a company. Corporate tax advice is B2B. Luxury goods are not. Software can be and so would be included.

Marketing: The promotion piece of marketing on social media, which I'm afraid now is only advertising. For those who still think there's something wrong about paying for promotion on Facebook, it's time to move on.  

Facebook needs revenue, so its platform is now for advertising, not for free distribution to people who 'like' your page. (Even Gary V. agrees in a recent eConsultancy interview).

You can possibly get better organic distribution through LinkedIn (though I have not), but to compare the two platforms I largely stick to advertising here.

Reasons: And finally for reasons, I will offer three strong, but contentious, and four indisputable ways in which Facebook is a better B2B marketing platform than LinkedIn.  

All OK? Let's begin.

Three strong arguments in favour of Facebook

1. Superior distribution

The first question you need to ask yourself when reviewing the two platforms is do I want to hit a mass market? If so, then you need to compare audience size on the platforms.

Below is a table from my last post about how many people there are on each platform for two similar audiences.

Country LinkedIn (Software/Internet/IT) Facebook (Computer Programming Interest & Degree) LinkedIn Audience / Facebook
Singapore 110,674 112,000 99%
HK 35,503 40,000 89%
UK 750,509 920,000 82%
India 3,132,051 4,200,000 75%
USA 4,316,127 5,800,000 74%
Vietnam 41,329 146,000 28%
Malaysia 86,218 920,000 9%
Thailand 35,247 400,000 9%
Indonesia 107,052 1,220,000 9%
Philippines 130,853 2,200,000 6%
  • YES the two are not exactly the same.
  • YES LinkedIn gives some guarantee that they are actually working in the area.
  • NO we don't know where Facebook gets their 'interests' moniker from but...

Look at the numbers.

If you're selling software services in Singapore, then sure, perhaps you're probably better off with LinkedIn. It's the same amount of people, and quite likely, you're able to target them more precisely.

But look at The Philippines. LinkedIn has only 6% of the Facebook population. Even with great targeting, you're just not going to get more clicks/conversions/customers on LinkedIn because the people simply aren't there.

Sure, you may still get a bad response from Facebook, but then you need to review at what you're offering, not blame it on the platform.

So whilst both platforms have their audience strengths, Facebook has more people. 1.2bn vs 300m. And, especially in developing economies, Facebook is clearly a better place to market your B2B services.

 

2. Visual creative

Undoubtedly the visual web is on the rise. Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr are all emerging platforms are based on visuals, not text. By one account, Instagram already has more interaction on the platform than Facebook.

So how do the platforms stack up?

  Side Ad   Promoted Post    
  Image Text Image Text  Post Example
LinkedIn 50 x 50 pixels 25 character headline / 75 character body 180 x 110 pixels 250 characters
Facebook 100 x 72 pixels 25 character headline / 90 character body 1200 x 625 pixels 420 characters

I think it's quite clear that, visually, Facebook is far ahead. So, even at similar cost-per-click, your visitors can see much more about your product and are, therefore, much more able to decide on the value proposition before clicking.

And yes, people are in a different mindset on LinkedIn. They are clearly thinking about jobs and work when they are there. But people also surf Facebook at work and with the right creative you can channel them back into the productive work they should be doing(!) 

3. Sharing

Sharing gives your ad distribution which you couldn't achieve any other way. That is, someone personally recommending your product or service to a friend.  You can hardly do better than that.

So, how do the platforms stack up?

Well, both of their side ads cannot be shared although their promoted posts can. But let's think about this a bit more.

Are Facebook page posts shared? Of course. We can all go into our Facebook news feed and see many instances where either a page post was shared, or we see an update of  company was liked by our friends.  

It doesn't necessarily mean that they were shared in a meaningful way, but at least it is likely that your posts will be shared.

And this is where Facebook can really stand out. Your ads look exactly like page posts and with the right visual can fit in well in the News Feed.

For LinkedIn, I doubt that you have the same experience. This is, of course, subjective, but I find that LinkedIn page posts are rarely shared and have a very high CPM - $15 minimum in Singapore! 

On top of that, LinkedIn is by its nature a commercial platform and full of business-related content. This may work well for job-seeking or evaluating business contacts, but its not useful when trying to get your message to stand out.

So, at best the platforms offer the same functionality, but typically Facebook is a better place for your content to be shared. If you can find your audience, that is.

 

Four slam dunks

OK, now the controversial topics are out of the way, let's cover the ways in which Facebook is truly a superior ad platform to LinkedIn.

4. Custom audiences

When advertising with Facebook, you are given the option of uploading a list of email addresses or phone numbers of people to target.  

Facebook then takes that list, creates a 'custom audience' and only shows your ad to users who are on that list / in that 'audience'. 

Now you may not want to do this for a variety of reasons, but advertising to existing users of your product is a sensible strategy for many businesses so for those who can, custom audiences are clearly a benefit of using Facebook over LinkedIn for B2B Advertising. 

5) Look-alike audiences

Not only can you create a 'custom audience' but you can also ask Facebook to take your audience and give you more of the same, or a 'lookalike audience.' This greatly expands the reach of your campaign which you can also filter according to location, age, interests, etc.

How do they do this?  I don't know. I presume the new audience shares likes or other characteristics with the original audience.

My results have been mixed. Sometimes it works well, other times it doesn't, but yours may differ. Still, I think this is like custom audiences.  

Lookalikes are a better way of targeting people who are more likely to be your customers than the masses of Facebook in general. So again, if it applies then it's clearly a benefit.

6) More usage time

The figures for how much each platform is used are controversial. They are largely self-reported and averaged across their whole community, so taking too much stock in the details is not a good idea.

However the difference in reported numbers is astounding. Facebook reports that their users are typically on the platform for more than eight hours per month whereas LinkedIn users, from what I could find, are only on the platform half an hour per month on average. 

Regardless of the real figures, it's quite clear that Facebook overall gets more user time than LinkedIn and, therefore, is a better place for your ad to be seen by your targets.

7) Mobile

Finally, we come to the future of the internet: mobile. We could argue about the relative merits of each platform's app, but I don't think that would be helpful. 

Instead, let's look at usage figures. For every hour people spend on their mobile, they spend more than 10 minutes on Facebook. And how much on LinkedIn? Who knows? Not enough to even register a blip.

 

So, if there's anything about your product which could be appreciated by a user on their mobile then Facebook is, again, a superior ad platform to LinkedIn.

So what?

The point here is not to declare one platform a winner over another.  Instead, I want to point out that the social media landscape has changed since advertising took over. Facebook is no longer just a place for 'likes', it is also a great platform to deliver your B2B message.

In some ways, B2B marketing is still LinkedIn's to lose. They have amassed a great audience with excellent demographic information for B2B marketers. 

LinkedIn does, however, fall short in many ways and we, as marketers, should take note as we decide which platforms to use for campaigns and master to further our careers.

Jeff Rajeck

Published 16 July, 2014 by Jeff Rajeck

Jeff Rajeck is the APAC Research Analyst for Econsultancy . You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.  

110 more posts from this author

Comments (11)

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Avatar-blank-50x50

Paul Parsons

Thank you for taking the time to break this down, although the fact that this is based on B2B makes me want to point out a few things that you clearly have failed to cover:

Distribution - Your numbers highlight countries have shown to be host to fake Facebook accounts, which is concerning when trying to reach these locations - which is why LinkedIn may be a smaller number, but it has a more reliable reach.

Visual Creative - With the new sponsored updates, you are able to post an image which actually looks more visually appealing than the old standard ad with the small image, why didn't you mention this?

Sharing - Sharing and interacting on Facebook will predominately be shown to their friends and not so much their peers or colleagues which in a B2B campaign would be more effective and this is where LinkedIn is much more effective. If someone is your target audience interacts or shares with a post on LinkedIn, the likelihood is that their 'connections' are work or industry related and not 'friends'.

Custom Audiences - Whilst I do agree with you that custom audiences are a very strategic way to reach the right people - customers, I would suggest that for a B2B company, how many work related email ID's would actually be used to setup a Facebook account? it would most likely be their personal.

I do like to look at alternative ways to reach our customers, but I feel that for a B2B campaign LinkedIn, Email and SEM are by far more targeted and effective.

about 2 years ago

Jeff Rajeck

Jeff Rajeck, Research Analyst at EconsultancySmall Business

Paul, thanks for taking the time to read and respond thoughtfully.

Distribution: I can't find a reliable figure about fake profiles on a country-by-country basis. Though I agree that LinkedIn almost certainly has less fraud, I can speak from experience that CTRs are pretty awful in the low-audience countries on LinkedIn and pretty good on Facebook in the same countries.

Visuals: You're right - the promoted post does allow for a 360 x 265 pixel image. As that cuts into your side text, though, I rarely see it used - but it would have made for a useful comparison

Sharing: Sharing, or the lack of it, on LinkedIn is one of my biggest concerns. I'm starting to think that it may never take off as it looks out-of-place on our news feed and groups have become very spammy. Facebook lets you share with an individual by typing names in the comments - and I have seen that especially in the frontier economies. Twitter is still where I share personally, but I don't advertise there at all so I couldn't compare it fairly.

Custom Audiences: Yeah building an audience from work emails is troublesome. One way around it is to struggle to get your 100, build a wide reach lookalike audience from it, and then filter on interests. Again this is all new stuff and takes some experimenting, but I have had some promising results.

Email, SEO, SEM: I omitted these because I think these strategies are well-known and have semi-predictable results. I think social advertising has a long way to go to be as reliable as those are - but with some thought and analytics there are early-bird returns to be had.

about 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Aleksander Heba

There is no point about conversion from both channels. How can you say Facebook is better than LinkedIn becouse you can use bigger pictures? At the end of day, there is a conversion factor to check...

about 2 years ago

Jeff Rajeck

Jeff Rajeck, Research Analyst at EconsultancySmall Business

True Aleksander, conversions are what are most important for us as marketers.

However, it is impossible for me to write about your conversions! All I can do is try to present the landscape and point out where I see things that may hurt or help your efforts. And a larger photo size in an ad tends to be better than smaller, agree?

The rest is up to you :-)

about 2 years ago

Chris Reed

Chris Reed, CEO & Founder at 423651

Very biased article, were you paid by facebook?

The fact that places like the Philippines has less users on LinkedIn than facebook is irrelevant if you want to just reach CEO's of MNC's. You can't find them on facebook. You can find them on LinkedIn.,

It's about targeting, not numbers. How many bots are on facebook? Rough estimate by people in the know is half, that's hundreds of millions of people. Linkedin has less than 5%.

Data is LinkedIn's trump card. By using their list builders and targeting you can pinpoint exactly who you want to reach and only send mails out to specific people. On facebook you simply cannot do that.

If they are on facebook they are on with a non-business viewpoint and don't wish to be spammed. Even if they are on facebook and you use the "people like this" results you will get many people you don't want to reach because there is no depth to the data on facebook as there is on LinkedIn.

Size of the company? years of experience? place of the country? industry sector? the list is endless on LinkedIn, non-existent on facebook partly because CEO's, if they are on, are not using it for business they're using it for non-business.

You have also overlooked the context of business platform v's social platform. The context of being contacted on LinkedIn is completely different to the context of being contacted on facebook. One is business, one is social.

Content is another are that facebook loses out to LinkedIn on for B2B. Content on LinkedIn is business orientated. On facebook it simply isn't, it's everything. So if you want quality discussions about business issues with your peer group then LinkedIn is the place to go not facebook.

Ultimately if the CMO of Coca Cola is saying that even with 60 million likes on facebook he can't track a single sale to any of them what chance has a B2B brand with only time wasters as followers and unspecific data targeting?

about 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Digital Marketing

Ya Jeff Rajeck I am satisfied with you that LinkedIn has less fake profiles than Facebook. But in today's world Facebook is more popular than the LinkedIn.

about 2 years ago

Hannah Rainford

Hannah Rainford, Associate Director of Social Media at Jellyfish Online Marketing

It's refreshing to see an article that opposes the view that Facebook isn't good for B2B. There are so many ways that you can make Facebook work for your B2B Business.

I always use the Caterpillar Facebook page as a great example

https://www.facebook.com/caterpillar

Instead of trying to sell equipment on Facebook, they're appealing to an audience who are passionate about machinery and engineering projects - and I bet a large percentage of them work in an industry where Caterpillar machinery is bought and used. The Caterpillar Facebook page has high engagement rate for a B2B page - more engagement than Skittles!

We're at a time where people are reluctant to switch off from work, checking emails until late in the evening. This means their brains are still thinking about work until late in the evening - when they might be on Facebook.

Great article Jeff.

about 2 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

Hi all, as Econsultancy is also a B2B, I thought I'd also weigh in here if you'll allow me, although as I began framing an answer I realised it might well be a blog post in it's own right.

One thing I will say is that we use both, and both have unique value for us. It's certainly not a case of 'one or the other'. Facebook is better at allowing brands (B2B OR B2C) to communicate AS a brand, while LinkedIn requires a more personal touch generally. I'm aware that company pages on LinkedIn help, but the sharing of content is limited compared to Facebook's offer.

I think we may be limiting our definitions of B2B marketing here - I've never felt that B2B has to be all about in-person lead nurturing, while conversely I do see some forms of content marketing as ways of engaging directly with relevant leads. For me, there's a point where marketing becomes sales, and vice versa.

There's a lot of talk in the comments about bot accounts,. Frankly I think this is irrelevant. There's been a lot of talk in the past about the inaccuracy of Facebook targeting, but we've had great success getting the right content in front of the right people there (and I'm not saying that LinkedIn doesn't have good targeting - it's actually fantastic). For me, it comes down to the correct targeting of content and how you approach marketing.

I'll follow this up in more depth in a post next week if I can - really interesting conversation!

about 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Annie Callahan

I am a marketing student and we are creating a marketing plan for a Forest Preserve that offers meetings rooms as well as a full service event tent that would accommodate 200 people. Our target market is corporations. What do you think would be our best form of social media? and why? If we had a limited budget would you add any additional marketing to the plan? Thanks for your input.

about 2 years ago

Chris Reed

Chris Reed, CEO & Founder at 423651

Interesting perspective Matt, I think you are looking at it from a media point of view where your target audience includes students/all levels of marketing execs and a wider advertising community/media people.

Most of my clients are looking to target and influence through inmails, content, company pages and enhanced profile presence on LinkedIn a select and very targeted C-Suite, decision makers across the world.

Objectives can range from investor relations to winning new business, from brand awareness for the company for the same for the person. In this context targeting is everything and reaching a CEO of x company pricisely in Australia for example to potentially close a deal is what they wish to use LinkedIn for.

Of course there is always the employee relations both for existing and future and that again can be done in a very targeted way using content through company pages for example and bloging on LinkedIn in ways that it can't be done on facebook.

New business deals are often often overlooked way of using LinkedIn and is something that we specialise in for our clients because people don't understand the power of what can be achieved on LinkedIn. Many of my clients come to me seeking advice precisely because they were led to believe that facebook would work in this regard and it hasn't and doesn't.

This even applies to B2B events where I have marketed them through LinkedIn showcase pages with great success and sold out tickets when it's been running on facebook with apparently many more followers but with no sales. Quantity is not everything and in a B2B context when you need to see results targeting a quality audience which can only be done through LinkedIn is what works.

Clients want results not just fans. They also have limited time and resources, hence the debate about whether to focus on LinkedIn or facebook, unless you have greater resource you can't do both and if one doesn't work, why bother doing it?

about 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Divya Mishra

" LinkedIn has only 6% of the Facebook population " says a lot.

@chris Reed
" Clients want results not just fans " absolutely true.

about 2 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.