Facebook vs. LinkedIn: Which One is the B2B Marketing Winner?

Adrienne Wilkerson April 17, 2017

Both of these social media juggernauts are going after the B2B marketing dollar. So which one is the best?

If you are like most busy professionals, you only have so much time each day to focus on marketing. The question weighing most people down is where do they spend their precious minutes? It is a very, very good question, possibly even one worth losing some sleep over. I’m going to give you some points that hopefully will help you find the solution for you and then you can sleep like a baby.

Just in case you are wondering if you should even waste time with either Facebook or LinkedIn, let me take a moment to remind you that “90% of B2B researchers who are online, use search specifically to research business purchases. On average, B2B researchers do 12 searches before engaging on a specific brand’s site.” (Source: Think With Google) Additionally “the average cost per lead drops 80% after 5 months of consistent Inbound Marketing.” (Eloqua) For these reasons and so much more we are beyond the point where anyone should be wondering if inbound marketing is effective. Now it is just a matter of which social media channel or channels are the most effectual, hence this article.

Every business is made up of people

Many people exclude Facebook as a realistic B2B marketing platform because they see it as the “fun one” and LinkedIn as the “serious channel.” Well, we agree that there is a lot of fun to be had on Facebook, and it’s true that LinkedIn in more focused on business-like interactions. However, every business is made up of people, and people don’t stop being business professionals just because they are on Facebook. When you look at the straight numbers, it’s pretty hard to compete with Facebook’s market share. According to Statista Facebook reported 226 million active users in the US in the 2nd quarter of this year. For that same period, LinkedIn reports 128 million active users. Additionally, people tend to spend more time on Facebook than LinkedIn.

In this category, it’s Facebook with the win for sheer volume of available people to reach out and connect with. I know we’re talking quantity over quality here, but if done right, the quality is there for the taking. Keep in mind that when people are on Facebook, they are looking to be entertained and to see what kind of trouble their friends or family are creating. So to have quality B2B marketing on Facebook, it is important to focus on the story of your brand and to engage with people in a very community-minded way. Hard selling through posts on your company’s Facebook page will not be received well. Facebook is great for building brand awareness, loyalty, and driving traffic to your website.

Know your target audience

In Inbound Marketing we talk extensively about knowing your target audience, and I would be remiss not to address it here. At the core of every good marketing strategy is a solid knowledge of who wants to know, what they want to know, and why they want to know it (their pain point). Digital marketing is the same, and when you are looking for the ONE social media channel to pour precious your time into, it is vital to define your target audience. Just for the record, I advocate you participate in more than one social media channel, but if one is all you have time for, I understand. It is better to do one well than spread yourself thin between 2-3.

In my opinion, it’s a draw between Facebook and LinkedIn in the target audience round. I say this because once you take some time to define who it is you want to network with, what they want to know about your company’s services or products and why they want to know, either one or both could be the best choice. Let’s take a look at some numbers again:

  • 82% of internet users between the ages of 18-29 use Facebook vs. only 22% of internet users in the 18-29 age group that use Linkedin
  • 79% of internet users between the ages of 30-49 use Facebook vs. only 32% of internet users in the 30-49 age group that use LinkedIn
  • 64% of internet users between the ages of 40-64 use Facebook vs. only 26% of internet users in the 50-64 age group that use LinkedIn

Clearly, Facebook is the winner again in a strict numbers game, pretty much no one but Google has a chance to beat them there. However, it is important to know the what and the why. People tend to go to LinkedIn looking for something specific. I believe it is a great place for personal networking. We find that many people use it to build their resumes and connections that could help them in the next phase of their career. Recruiters use LinkedIn heavily for the excellent reason that people are there to share what they know and put their best foot forward. It is a bit like a being in a perpetual interview. From this standpoint, Facebook is much more casual in its communication; it is the lunch meeting or after hours networking event. Just as much, if not more business happens there, but the whole tenor is different, as is the approach. So know what your target audience is looking for, know how they want to be contacted and put yourself there.

Engage your audience

We’ve touched on who might be where and the tone with which to connect with people, but let’s not forget about connecting with your audience once you find them. Both Facebook and LinkedIn have some specific avenues for businesses and individuals to engage with the public. Let’s start with LinkedIn. The most commonly used method of interaction is typically found in groups. LinkedIn has always done an excellent job of facilitating groups where like-minded people can come together and share ideas. It is a system of professional forums, which can be particularly effective if you regularly participate by asking questions, responding to issues and comments, and finally post information or articles that are helpful to the group at large. As with anything worth doing, this takes a dedicated investment of time and is more about you building your personal brand or by association the brand you work for. Engaging in groups and publishing original, quality content through Pulse will help establish you as an expert in your field. Again, the focus is still primarily on you as the person and not on the company first.

In comparison, Facebook focuses on the business first. This is a bit strange to say when Facebook is all about the personal engagement, but Zuckerberg figured out pretty quickly that his social media giant was going to have to cater to companies if he was going to build a social media juggernaut. So while every company account must connect to a personal account, business accounts and pages have a tremendous amount of flexibility in how they connect to and engage with social media users. In recent years, LinkedIn has tried to follow suit, but their system is nowhere near as intuitive or user-friendly. It is more about a company brand interacting with their customers and fans than it is an individual building their personal network. Both have value, but for a company expanding its brand awareness and looking to fill its sales funnel, Facebook takes the win in this category.

Promote your posts and get creative with your ads

Right out of the corner Facebook has dominated in the ads and promoted posts fight for advertising dollars. Every other social media channel has struggled to catch up and carve out their little piece of the marketing pie. That being said, LinkedIn has stepped up their game in the last 12 months or so. As the adage goes, better late than never, and this is certainly true of LinkedIn. I would venture to guess they took the longest from launch to releasing sponsored posts. Believe me; I’m thankful that they did, but I do find myself spending more of my time with Facebook’s highly developed, sophisticated Business Manager. Facebook does a thorough, to the point of invasive, job of collecting data for marketers and professionals to use to target their promoted posts and ads. Again, Linkedin in trying to emulate Facebook’s system but they are several years behind. Recently Facebook launched its version of geofencing, which they are calling “location awareness.” This is beyond life changing for businesses since they can now skip the whole section of needing an app and a way to get users to opt into a geofencing type advertising campaign. Facebook takes care of that piece, the piece that was usually the most burdensome for marketers and professionals.

Additionally, Facebook offers retargeting ads through the use of a pixel put into the code of your website or landing page that can track when someone has visited either one. Then when they show up on Facebook, ads show up based on which pages a user has visited and what they are interested in. This custom feature is a little bit creepy from the users’ standpoint but amazingly powerful from where us marketers sit. To my knowledge, this is something LinkedIn has yet to build it their ads. Statistically speaking, you know that the prospect is looking for something specific, so the likely hood that they will click on an ad for a service or product they have already expressed interest in is incredibly high. According to an article in The Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce, retargeting ads are the second most successful technique in e-commerce.

So what is the final score? For a company looking to maximize their essential and often limited time, I would say Facebook is the clear winner! If you are an individual sales professional or business owner looking to build your network and sell person to person, then I would say you should take a serious look at LinkedIn first with Facebook a close second. If you just don’t want to mess with either one and want to talk to a professional company that lives, eats, breathes, and drinks social media marketing, then you should give me a call. At Beacon, we understand that to do social media marketing well; it is a significant investment of time. We are in the trenches working our clients’ social media accounts daily. We know what it takes to market your company successfully, and we can take the weight of the time it takes off your plate so you can focus on what you do best your business! If you want to just chat about the possibilities, we would love to meet. You are welcome to call me at the office at 907-563-6008 or shoot me an email at [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you.

This blog was originally published on 081616 and has been updated for accuracy.

AUTHOR BIO

Adrienne Wilkerson, President of Beacon Media + Marketing

Adrienne Wilkerson, President

Adrienne is an owner and the president of BEACON. She specializes in training on Inbound Marketing techniques and is a co-founder of the Beacon Digital University and the Alaska Inbound Marketing Summit. Together with her Jennifer Christensen, she was recognized as a 2015 Marketing Visionary by the American Marketing Association's Alaska Chapter.

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