Business-to-business advertisers have long prioritized search-engine marketing as their primary digital path to new customers. With at least one study now showing social media to be a top marketing channel for B2B companies, it’s time for advertisers to re-examine their lead-generation mix.
Most will look at LinkedIn first because it operates the world’s largest professional network, with more than 467 million members in over 200 countries and territories. But guess what? For most B2B advertisers, we’re finding that Facebook generates exponentially more leads at a more efficient rate.
This means a lot of marketers–particularly smaller businesses–need to start prioritizing Facebook. Here are four reasons why:
- Scale: Facebook is substantially larger than LinkedIn–1.79 billion monthly active users versus 106 million. Facebook has the greatest share of business decision makers—60 percent versus 22 percent for LinkedIn at last count–and it’s the social platform that they spend the most time on. Both platforms allow targeting based on user’s job title, industry, education, age and location; so why not capitalize on the platform with larger scale and reach domestically and globally?
- No barrier to entry: Facebook gives advertisers large and small access to its entire suite of products and capabilities. With LinkedIn, higher-end products such as dynamic ads and account-based marketing carry a $25,000 minimum over each three-month period. That buys the help of a dedicated representative, but it’s too expensive for the majority of smaller businesses–especially advertisers new to the platform that haven’t had the chance to warm up to a long-term commitment.
- Leverage first-party data: Facebook’s custom audiences allow advertisers to upload customer-relationship-management data in order to match customer information to Facebook users. LinkedIn doesn’t offer this yet. Secondly, advertisers have the ability to retarget site visitors on Facebook given proper pixel placement, but not on LinkedIn. On Facebook, advertisers can create custom audiences based on engagement (e.g., people who viewed a video or interacted with a brand’s page or posts) and target lookalike users for all of the mentioned above. These vast first-party options put Facebook above the rest of the social platforms.
- Pace of innovation: More than 95 percent of Facebook’s revenue comes directly from advertising, whereas LinkedIn’s marketing solutions account for less than 20 percent of revenue. To sustain this growth, Facebook rolls out new targeting methods and ad formats faster than any other platform. Facebook emphasizes a seamless advertiser experience, most evident in lead ads, which has LinkedIn playing catch up. While LinkedIn auto-fills a user’s information when he or she clicks on an advertiser’s link (if that user is logged in), Facebook captures users’ information natively on the platform itself. This has dramatically increased conversion rates across the board, especially as dollars shift toward mobile.
All of this makes Facebook a must-test platform for B2B advertisers. New and small advertisers, particularly, will find that they can progress at their own pace, taking advantage of the broadest range of targeting tools and ad products from the start. In the process, they can appeal to prospective customers in unprecedented ways.
The key is differentiating marketing from sales. If you have a product that’s expensive, highly targeted and hard to understand–say, replacement restaurant equipment–then LinkedIn should remain your first choice to market and sell. If you have a more everyday business product or service, it’s time to go fishing on Facebook first.
Sanjay Teckchandani is director of paid social and Michael LaMonte is a paid social account manager at Elite SEM, a performance digital agency.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.