LinkedIn vs Facebook B2B marketing

The conventional wisdom holds that LinkedIn is ideal for B2B social media marketing, while Facebook dominates in the B2C space. Take a closer look, though, and you’ll find that both platforms offer distinct advantages to B2B marketers, especially in the area of pay-per-click advertising (PPC), the online ad model in which marketers pay for ad placements only when users click on an ad.

Marketers use social media platforms to promote content, interact with customers, and attract the attention of potential customers. This requires a little strategizing, but the stakes are higher for PPC advertisers simply because they must pay for ads. Since 74 percent of businesses with 50 or more employees invest in PPC, it’s a tactic you can’t afford to ignore.

To compete in the PPC space, allocate ad spend between LinkedIn and Facebook in a targeted, deliberate manner. This isn’t a B2B prizefight — LinkedIn vs Facebook, winner take all. Each platform allows you to accomplish different but related goals. You don’t have to pick just one.

Here are a few things to consider as you plan your PPC ad spend.

LinkedIn vs Facebook PPC advertising

The pay-per-click model has proliferated on social media networks. But which of these networks provides the most value to a B2B marketer?

Facebook has a much larger user base, up to 2.49 billion users per month as of this writing. LinkedIn counts 690 million members globally. (This represents “members” not “monthly users,” so the disparity is likely greater than the statistics suggest.)

But LinkedIn is a professional network, while Facebook is not. The consensus is that while LinkedIn is best for generating high-value leads, you can reach a much larger, broader audience on Facebook. Here are some of the key comparisons between LinkedIn and Facebook in terms of PPC advertising.

PPC ads on LinkedIn cost more per click than on Facebook. According to LinkedIn, 80 percent of its members “drive business decisions.” That’s a powerful demographic, and LinkedIn charges accordingly. “We are seeing click costs sometimes 10 to 20 times that of Facebook,” says Jeff Moriarty, marketing manager at JMoriarty Marketing.

Research supports Moriarty’s experience. According to one report, the median cost per click (CPC) for Facebook is 51 cents. For LinkedIn, it’s $5.61.

PPC targeting on LinkedIn is more focused on business-related identifiers than it is on Facebook. Facebook’s ad targeting has a number of powerful features, such as the ability to create lookalike audiences based on user preference. But only LinkedIn lets you target specific positions in specific industries or places.

“With LinkedIn ads, you can reach people that you won’t be able to with Facebook,” says Stan Tan, digital marketing manager at Selby’s. “For example, you can reach the chief marketing officer of KFC [on LinkedIn,] but with Facebook, you can’t do that. You can filter by ‘age 50+, female, interested in food,’ and pray your ad reaches her.”

By most accounts, Facebook offers higher value ad retargeting than LinkedIn. When you visit a company’s website and ads for that company follow you around the internet, that’s retargeting.

While LinkedIn offers retargeting in its ad suite, those ads only follow site visitors around LinkedIn. A retargeting campaign on Facebook will show up not just on Facebook but also Instagram. And remember that Facebook has many more users than LinkedIn.

Besides, retargeting is just better on Facebook, says Jacob Cullum, PPC specialist at Epic Marketing. “Facebook’s retargeting capabilities are much more advanced than LinkedIn’s,” Cullum says.

Others agree. Etgar Shpivak at Adstage calls out LinkedIn’s use of page views rather than events to trigger retargeting placements. This means you can serve LinkedIn ads to an audience that visits your homepage. In contrast, you can serve Facebook ads to an audience that clicks on your lead generation form and navigates away without sending it, which is a more powerful use of retargeting.

In the end, the choice of where to allocate precious ad spend comes down to your overall marketing goals. “Facebook is the best option if your main goals are accessing a large number of users, producing a high quantity of leads, and a low cost per lead,” says Joel Almazar, administrative assistant at Upgrow. “On the other hand, LinkedIn is much better if your main goal is getting high-quality leads, concentrated B2B targeting, and B2B optimized ads.”

To learn more about B2B marketing, on social media and elsewhere, see our comprehensive Guide to Effective B2B Marketing.

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