on April 22, 2021 (last modified on July 6, 2022) • 16 minute read
According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2020 benchmark report, a whopping 95% of B2B marketers use social media content, making it the most popular format.
But, if you want to get in on the trend, which platform should you try?
In this report, we’ll compare Facebook and LinkedIn’s effectiveness for B2B marketing. We polled B2B professionals about their preferred platform, and they shared their experience-backed insights.
The people we surveyed also seem to have a good grasp on social media marketing practices — almost three-quarters make sure to differentiate their content between the two platforms.
So, you can count on our reader base’s contributions to our study. Let’s see what they had to say about Facebook vs. LinkedIn for B2B communications.
Respondents who preferred Facebook over LinkedIn for B2B marketing cited three reasons:
Evaluating the benefits of these two social media platforms involves looking at advertising on LinkedIn vs. Facebook. When it comes to advertising utility, Facebook dominates LinkedIn.
“Facebook is the king when it comes to social advertising,” posits Takeshi Young from DiDi. It is no wonder that 80% of agencies and SMBs surveyed in this Facebook ads research spend 80% of their budget on Facebook ads.
Takeshi Young continues, “It is the network with by far the most users (basically everybody uses it) and the interest-based targeting is quite sophisticated, especially when paired with existing customer data and lookalike audiences.”
According to Young, Facebook also has broader ad options. “Facebook also has more ad formats than LinkedIn, with Stories ads, video ads, Messenger ads, content network, etc. and these are available across the Facebook family of apps such as Instagram, which is another social media powerhouse.”
Young mentioned having lower ad costs on Facebook than on LinkedIn as well, but since we had some respondents say the opposite, it may vary based on your target audience.
At More Meaningful Marketing, Tiffany Lewis counts on Facebook’s robust ad targeting. Lewis says, “the advertising capabilities are a great way to focus in on target audiences with specific demographics that are spot-on for creating conversions that matter.” Lewis uses Facebook’s audience features on top of the platform’s conversational environment to create personalized content for their audience.
If you haven’t guessed it already, Facebook has another notable strength over LinkedIn — its massive user base. Statista ranks Facebook as the most popular social network in 2021 at 2.74 billion active users. LinkedIn didn’t even make it on that chart.
Tim Culpepper of Conexa considers both Facebook and LinkedIn useful depending on the business but acknowledges that Facebook wins the numbers game. “I believe that Facebook is more effective for business growth. The reason is Facebook gives you access to ten times more prospects and provides a great place to generate brand awareness and engagement,” Culpepper tells us.
Digital Now’s Marcin Nieweglowski also thinks that the two platforms have their unique strengths and believes that Facebook’s benefits lie in its large user base. “On average, we spend a few hours daily checking social media. A lion’s share of our attention belongs to Facebook, in fact. Facebook’s remarketing opportunities are impressive too.”
Nieweglowski had one caveat to mention about Facebook: “However, this platform is not associated with business issues, generally. Its image isn’t as serious as LinkedIn has. This isn’t a destination for building a personal brand nor B2B connections among others.”
It’s also worth noting that such a high number of users could work against your favor. Since practically everyone uses Facebook, there are also plenty of ads ready to compete with yours.
In the LinkedIn Groups vs. Facebook Groups race in our survey, Facebook Groups won. A few respondents brought up Facebook Groups’ usefulness, while none of the open-ended responses mentioned LinkedIn Groups.
For example, Sparkr Marketing’s Wendy Margolin offers services that benefit from Facebook Groups. “LinkedIn has been a stellar resource for finding new clients and networking with colleagues. However, I offer group courses and training, and Facebook Groups have been key to building my audience for those,” Margolin explains.
Facebook Groups offer a more intimate and exclusive environment than LinkedIn Groups that lends itself well to training and courses. They provide better accessibility and more room for direct mentoring.
If you consider yourself a solopreneur, Facebook Groups can help you find other business owners and gain customers, as you’ll learn from Mostly Blogging’s Janice Wald. “Without a doubt, my business has grown more due to my promotion on Facebook. I use Facebook Groups, both daily and weekly, to promote my business,” Wald states.
Facebook’s high number of users allows Wald to target a large user base interested in Mostly Blogging’s products. “I promote my web content to some groups which have tens of thousands of members. This lets people learn about my content and link to it, which boosts my domain authority,” says Wald.
Speaking from my personal experience as a freelance writer, Facebook Groups also provide space for freelancers to share advice. If you’re looking for a more casual environment to network and find clients, you might find opportunities through this feature. The above examples show that a platform’s effectiveness can depend on your industry and business model.
The participants in our Facebook vs. LinkedIn survey had more benefits to list for LinkedIn than they did Facebook. They listed 8 advantages:
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In B2B marketing, you’re targeting more than just a business — you’re looking for the decision-makers who can choose your product or service. LinkedIn offers the perfect space to find them.
“LinkedIn has been a great way to grow Emergent Software’s business,” says team member Brita Hammer. “Being in the B2B space means that many of our current and potential clients use LinkedIn as a tool to connect with their network and do research on a potential software development partner.”
Hammer finds that LinkedIn delivers ongoing opportunities to connect with these client VIPs. They notice that “after our sales reps send out prospecting emails, potential clients will go and like our LinkedIn page to connect with our updates. It has been a great channel for us to connect with our market!”
Alexandra Zamolo of Beekeeper points out that different employees tend to manage a company’s Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, with more decision-makers taking the helm at LinkedIn. “More executives actually manage their own LinkedIn pages, while platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are primarily handled by the social media or content marketing departments,” Zamolo advises.
AutoPi’s Michal Hajtas believes that LinkedIn suits B2B better than Facebook because you’ll find so many decision-makers there. “Generally, Facebook works better for B2C and LinkedIn for B2B. We have actually noticed the same thing with our marketing strategies, as we can reach more decision-making people on LinkedIn than on Facebook. Our company focuses more on B2B than B2C therefore, LinkedIn is the better option for our marketing strategies,” Hajtas says.
Since LinkedIn has individual professional profiles, it also makes it easy to find critical team members by their job titles. It works more like a business directory than Facebook, allowing for faster lead identification.
LinkedIn is founded on networking, leading to better networking resources than Facebook.
At LiveHelpNow, Natalya Bucuy has more growth success with LinkedIn than with Facebook. “Networking is a big part of our marketing efforts, and we feel like LinkedIn provides more tools and opportunities to network,” they explain.
Bucuy continues, “On LinkedIn, we can publish valuable content in the form of articles, posts, and videos. We can find and connect with people with similar interests and career paths.” These features Bucuy mentions help you refine users by their professional traits for more effective networking.
“From a B2B perspective, LinkedIn has certainly been the most effective in converting stone-cold leads to prospects in our pipeline,” adds Lauren Shroll of Project OTY. “Based on the networking potential of the platform, we’ve found that every conversation started on the platform easily opens itself up to 20 conversations with related connections. LinkedIn allows us to continue conversations and harness the massive network potential of those who know who we know.”
If you’re new to LinkedIn, the platform labels users connected to your connections as “2nd connections.” When searching for users, you can check their connection status at a glance to see who has better lead potential.
Here’s another reason to use LinkedIn for B2B that you might have guessed — it has a business focus. LinkedIn users and Facebook users log on for completely different reasons.
Annabel Maw of B2B SaaS JotForm’s experience shows that business-centered content has a more captive audience on LinkedIn. “LinkedIn is an effective platform to grow our company because we can post about our product offering and productivity-focused thought leadership articles from our CEO. These types of posts appeal to our target audience and encourage them to engage with our company and brand,” Maw tells us.
Content related to business products and productivity tends to work better on LinkedIn because they’re prevailing topics on the platform. Meanwhile, if you tried to post about those subjects on Facebook, you better have a highly tailored audience.
Liam Carnahan from Inkwell Content Services attributes this trend to mindset. “…when people are on LinkedIn, they’re already in ‘professional mode.’ They are expecting to see posts about their professional life,” they explain
Carnahan compares this attitude to the typical Facebook user’s mindset: “On Facebook, people *might* be in that mode, but they might also just be using Facebook to interact with friends. LinkedIn lets me have more ownership of my content, and the audience there is a lot warmer than the one I’ve found on Facebook.”
BrandExtract’s Chris Wilks brings up another good point — users have different concepts of personal space on Facebook and LinkedIn. “LinkedIn is a platform specifically designed for business/professional interactions, so when connecting with prospects there, they don’t feel like we’re intruding on their personal space,” they say.
On LinkedIn, business outreach is part of the platform’s nature. Meanwhile, most people use Facebook for personal reasons to some extent, so it can feel jarring to get a prospecting message.
If you haven’t had luck with business-related content on Facebook, try sharing it on LinkedIn. You might find yourself getting better engagement.
You might expect Facebook to be the most effective place for one-on-one lead nurturing, but LiveWebinar’s Maciej Biegajewski found the opposite true.
“We’ve introduced social selling practices on LinkedIn for our team and it’s been working really well, along with a series of posts on our Showcase LI page,” states Biegajewski. “By building personal brands of our team members, we can easily approach the right audience for us – since people want to connect with people, not businesses.”
Note that LiveWebinar uses a two-pronged approach — while the company page serves as the team’s base of operations, social selling happens on personal LinkedIn accounts. While everyone gets to access the company’s original content, outreach happens between users.
When we asked marketing experts about their LinkedIn practices, they recommended using it to build your personal brand. LiveWebinar’s strategy allows personal branding to support the organization’s primary brand.
In addition to networking, LinkedIn’s foundation is based on recruiting. If you need new team members, go to LinkedIn, where users want to improve their careers.
“LinkedIn has been paramount in growing Allobee,” CEO Brooke Markevicius affirms. “I hit LinkedIn hard when I was starting my business; looking for qualified individuals to join my team for launch. Since finding my 2 key players, my business has grown exponentially in a small amount of time.”
Today, Markevicius uses LinkedIn for cold outreach and community participation. You can use LinkedIn to build the foundation of your team, then pivot to a growth-related strategy.
Related: Marketing Agencies Share 3 Biggest Recruiting & Hiring Challenges
Thanks to its business-focused approach, LinkedIn allows you to target prospective leads and partners through the traits that matter in a professional context.
For Beth Cooper at KNB Communications, LinkedIn “allows great segmentation that allows us to create audiences based on their specific job titles, degrees, and seniority level.” Combined with the platform’s work-oriented mindset, these targeting features lead to better-received B2B messaging for the company.
Speedwork Social’s Anthon Blatner reports similar results. “LinkedIn Ads are the most effective way to reach niche decision-makers at scale. LinkedIn is the best platform for targeting by job title, industry and company size,” Blatner tells us.
Once Speedwork Social generates leads with LinkedIn Ads’ targeting features, it follows up with retargeting, email and similar tactics.
When you network on LinkedIn, you’ll have a better chance at building stronger professional relationships.
“LinkedIn definitely provides more opportunities to network and build relationships that could lead to mutual collaborations,” says Angela Ash from Flow SEO. “In fact, we recently made the decision to pull the plug on our Facebook marketing efforts and to focus more on LinkedIn and our newsletter. This wasn’t an easy decision, but we found that content marketing efforts just work better on LinkedIn, and we are reaching the audience that we’re actually hoping to target.”
The platform provided such high-quality business relationships that Flow SEO shifted their content marketing efforts to focus on LinkedIn. Talk about impact!
Growth Hackers Agency’s Jonathon Aufray agrees, saying, “For B2B, I found that LinkedIn has been the best social media channel by far. It’s a great way to connect with potential clients as well as partners and other actors in your industry.”
For Aufray, it’s all about establishing connections. “On LinkedIn, what you want to do is building meaningful relationships with people. You don’t want to sell your solution right away. Connect with people, ask questions, build rapport, share insightful content, bring value and understand if you can help them.”
LinkedIn allows for deeper professional relationships by making room for the activities Aufray mentioned. Aufray’s strategy involves using LinkedIn’s social features to nurture leads before marketing a solution.
Searchlight Content’s Ashley Cummings connects with other professionals on LinkedIn for business growth. “I am a freelance writer for SaaS, e-commerce and marketing/advertising platforms. LinkedIn helps me engage with industry professionals, find new clients and participate in relevant conversations, which often drives traffic back to my website,” Cummings explains.
The relationships Cummings builds on LinkedIn lead to direct growth, making it more valuable for Searchlight Content’s progress.
We brought up the possibility of Facebook having more affordable ads than LinkedIn earlier. But, in some cases, LinkedIn could have better affordability.
LinkedIn Ads work better for Rohan Kadam of Vital Feedz than Facebook Ads. “The audience from LinkedIn engages a lot with my web content. I run paid ads on LinkedIn and my advertisement cost is 27% lower compared to Facebook and Google platforms. The bounce rate and average session duration that I get from LinkedIn is much better compared to other channels,” Kadam tells us.
So, which ad platform will work best for your business? We suspect the answer is a common one you’ll find in marketing: It depends. Experiment with both platforms and use data from your social media dashboard software to see which gives you the best results.
According to the experts we surveyed, LinkedIn beats Facebook in the B2B race. They listed many more benefits to using LinkedIn than they did for Facebook. Plus, when we directly asked them about their usage and results, LinkedIn took the lead.
More than half of respondents told us they primarily use LinkedIn for B2B marketing, compared to the ~20% who prefer Facebook:
When we surveyed participants about the network that enabled the most success in reaching decision-makers, nearly three-quarters chose LinkedIn:
If you’re looking for a social channel to prioritize in your B2B marketing efforts, the experts we consulted overwhelmingly recommend LinkedIn. Try dedicating more time to your content, networking and recruiting to see if you get results.
Remember that the engagement and audience data provided by your social media dashboard will give you the best insight into what works well for your brand. Consider these results a starting point for a data-backed social media strategy.
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