Are you looking to target other businesses, but you’re not sure whether to use Facebook ads or LinkedIn ads?

In this article, I’ll go through the pro’s and con’s of both channels to help you make an educated decision on what social media channel has the highest chances of delivering you better results.

To do this, I’ll be looking at how Facebook and LinkedIn compared to each other in 3 main areas:

  • Targeting
  • Intelligence
  • Cost

Before we start, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. There are many types of advertising campaigns you can run on social media. For the purpose of this comparison, I’ll be focusing on what social media channel out of LinkedIn and Facebook will be best with the goal of generating more leads for a businesses targeting other businesses (b2b).

2. The answer of which social media channel is “the best”, will likely differ from business to business. There are many variables including your brand, your content, who you’re targeting and your experience on each social media platform. The goal of this article is to give you information to help you make a more educated decision. Like most things in marketing though, you need to sometimes just go for it and test it yourself to see how well it works for YOU.

3. This article is based on my own experience working with businesses running similar campaigns on BOTH Facebook and LinkedIn.

Targeting

What this means: How effectively you can find your ideal clients

What some people say: You can’t target business owners on Facebook very well. LinkedIn is the only channel that effectively does this.

The truth: You can target business people on both channels effectively

What both channels have in common: On both Facebook and LinkedIn, you can retarget people from your email database, people that visit your website and target people that have never heard about you before with data such as their:

  • Job title
  • Industry
  • Age
  • Location

The Facebook Advantages: One of the biggest advantages Facebook has, is that as well as targeting people on B2B demographic information, but you can also target people by their interests.

Facebook has a lot of data on what people do and like. This means, that if you’re looking to target business owners who are also interested in self-development and follow online influencers like Gary Vaynerchuk, you can do this on Facebook (and not on LinkedIn). Or, if you’re looking to target business owners who are interested in sports, again, you can do this on Facebook very well.

Another advantage Facebook has is that the social media channel has a much larger audience than LinkedIn. Facebook has over 2.2 Billion active users, compared to LinkedIn’s 450+ million active users. Facebook also has the added advantage of owning Instagram (over 800+ million active users).

Because more people use Facebook, there’s a higher chance you can find and target the people you’re looking for.

Finally, Facebook has an awesome targeting options called “lookalike audiences”. This means you can upload an email database of your existing customers or retarget your existing leads or people that consume your content and find more similar people.

This feature is only available on Facebook and gives Facebook a huge targeting advantage over LinkedIn (if you have enough data to point them in the right direction).

Note: LinkedIn does have an “audience expansion” feature, but in our tests, it hasn’t been very effective. This could change in the future… and if it does, we’ll keep you updated.

*** Update April 2018 ***

Due to the recent Facebook data privacy crises,  after writing this article, Facebook announced that it’s now removing all it’s 3rd party data for it’s advertisers.

 

If you didn’t yet know, Facebook in the past partnered with 3rd party companies to get data on people such as their wealth, buyer behaviour, income and so on. Almost 50% of Facebook’s targeting options came from 3rd party data. This data will soon be phased out over the next few months (from April to October 2018).

 

It’s not the end of the world though. Facebook has always been making changes and business owners and marketers will continue to adapt. Facebook still has a huge amount of data you can use for your targeting. You’ll just need to be more creative and put in a little bit more effort to find the right people.

 

This is good news for LinkedIn though! LinkedIn has a lot of b2b data at it’s disposal (see below) and now it has the perfect time to take advantage of that.

The LinkedIn Advantage:

One of the biggest advantages LinkedIn has is with the data they store on businesses and business owners in the b2b space. In my experience, when targeting higher-level business job titles or larger companies, LinkedIn has a lot more data at it’s disposal.

Unlike Facebook, which used to partner with other companies for some of it’s b2b data, LinkedIn has data on people all from within their own social media platform.

One of the reasons for this, is that when people sign up for a LinkedIn account, people will tell LinkedIn exactly who they are (their job title, who they work for, how big the company is, etc).

LinkedIn then allows you to enter that information into its advertising platform, to target the exact kind of people you want to get in front of.

Another advantage LinkedIn has, is that it has data such as “company size”. This has been very powerful targeting feature for the businesses I’ve worked with on LinkedIn.

If you target people on Facebook with the job title “CEO” for example, you could get all kinds of different sized businesses. That’s fine, if you work with all kinds of different sized businesses. But what if you only want to work with businesses with 10 or more employees? There are some things you can do to reduce the chances you work with smaller businesses on Facebook, but on LinkedIn you can actually tell them the exact size of a company you want to target.

Summary:

Both channels have very powerful targeting options. Although Facebook has less b2b data available compared to linkedIn, it makes up for it with it’s impressive interest-based targeting options and the fact that it’s the largest social media channel.

And although LinkedIn has less users than Facebook and no interest-based targeting, it makes up for it with a wide variety of targeting options when targeting by company name, job title, company size and so on.

Intelligence

What this means: How smart the social media channel is in helping you deliver your ads to the right people

What some people say: Facebook is much smarter than LinkedIn because it will self-optimize your advertising campaign to help you get better results.

The truth: Yep, this is true. Once you point Facebook in the right direction (and assuming your targeting and message is good), then Facebook will look at trends in the data of those that see your advert and convert into leads.

If they notice a particular group of people that are converting the most within your target audience, they will start to show your adverts to more of those types of people. This happens automatically without you having to worry about it.

The Facebook advantage:

Facebook has invested heavily on creating an advertising platform that delivers results. They want you to get results from your advertising campaign because they know if you do, you will keep paying and using them for longer.

The LinkedIn advantage:

LinkedIn is still behind when it comes to the intelligence of the algorithm on their advertising platform. Sure, you can split test (the same way you can on Facebook) which does help. But, it doesn’t automatically optimize your campaign to help you get better results with minimal effort on your end.

LinkedIn still has a lot of catching up to do on this one. But, it’s worth mentioning that since Microsoft bought LinkedIn, they have also been investing a lot into their platform to improve it. Give them a year or two (I’m writing this in March 2018) and I’m sure this will be a different story.

Cost

What this means: How much it costs per lead for advertising

What some people say: LinkedIn is more expensive than Facebook.

The truth: Yep, this one is also true. Overall, the cost for advertising on LinkedIn is more expensive than Facebook. However, don’t let this put you off LinkedIn altogether. More expensive leads, isn’t always a bad thing, if the quality and ROI of those leads are higher.

The Facebook advantage:

Overall, cost are lower on Facebook right now compared to LinkedIn. But this year (2018), the cost of advertising on Facebook has been rising steadily.

Why?

More and more businesses are flocking to Facebook ads.

The more people who use the Facebook ads platform, the more expensive it will be for everyone to advertise on there. So yes, right now, it’s cheaper to advertise on Facebook (in most cases). But it will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years.

The LinkedIn advantage:

LinkedIn leads will usually cost more than Facebook, but if you generate a high quality leads, with a high ROI, it might be worth paying a little bit more. That’s not to say Facebook leads are low quality either. All I’m saying is don’t let the higher cost per lead put you off.

For example, I am running a campaign for a business targeting high net-worth individuals on both Facebook and LinkedIn and although Facebook generated cheaper and more leads, LinkedIn generated some very strong leads that quite frankly would have been almost impossible to get on Facebook alone.

Because of the amount of variables on the cost per lead, I’d recommend you test both channels, to see what one works better (in terms of cost per lead, quality and ROI) for you and your business.

The Verdict

So, what’s better, LinkedIn ads or Facebook ads?

To be honest, they are both strong in their own way. But if I had to pick one channel, I do believe Facebook does have more of an advantage over LinkedIn right now though, because of it’s smart algorithm, lower cost per lead and smart targeting options.

Ultimately though, the answer to “which channel is better?” for your business, will depend largely on your who you’re targeting and what social media platform they are most likely to be on.

So, here’s what I recommend:

If you’re potential clients are using both LinkedIn and Facebook, then run a campaign on both to compare the results. Don’t just look at cost per lead. Look at the quality of those leads too and your social media ROI.

If you’re not sure how to research what social media channels your target audience are on, then reach out to me, and I’ll be happy to help you out.