With literally millions of visitors every hour, Facebook & LinkedIn display advertising is a tempting proposition for anyone looking to get their business in front of a very big audience.
Assuming that most businesses do not have an infinite marketing budget, particularly for advertising via an immature channel, there will be some fairly serious questions to either ask or answer.

So which to use?
Clearly that very much depends on your business, your objectives and of course who (and where) your customers are. However, here are some quick guidelines that may help you decide where to put your money:

LinkedIn:

LinkedIn is the platform to use if your business sells to other businesses (B2B sales). Whilst businesses themselves are still run by human beings, a business purchase decision is very different from a consumer (B2C sales) purchase decision. B2B purchasing tends to be a longer, fact based process that focuses on ROI. B2C purchasing tends to be a shorter and much more emotive process that focuses on our need for something immediately.

LinkedIn does a great job at encouraging us to complete our online profiles. This is important to marketers as the LinkedIn advertising system enables us to target our adverts by specifically targeting people with certain skills, job titles, industries and locations. This means we can precisely target likely prospects for our business offering. Be aware that job titles can be a little deceptive or ambiguous and that the skills listed on certain profiles can be somewhat “aspirational” or just plain wrong!

Because B2B buying is often a medium to long term process, we would recommend not including incremental direct sales as an objective from a LinkedIn ad campaign. Yes, this might depend on what you’re selling, but you’re far more likely to successfully develop increased company/product/service awareness or generate new leads. The latter is likely to be achieved by incentivising people to sign up to receive more information on what you’re selling after they’ve clicked through to your landing page. Once you have their details, they’re fair game to contact using a secondary channel such as email marketing or even the good old fashioned telephone.

Facebook:

Facebook is the platform to use if your business mainly sells to consumers. In addition to generating leads and developing awareness, Facebook advertising is also better at actually driving direct sales. Why? As well as sharing LinkedIn’s ability to target by location, Facebook advertising can target people by their interests, i.e. things they like. This automatically enables us to sell to someone’s emotions. For example, we can ensure adverts for mountain bike accessories only appear to people who have listed mountain-biking as a hobby. An emotive purchase is usually a no-brainer, in fact almost literally, as it’s bought with ones heart and not ones head! I’m sure we can all think of a personal example where that has backfired!

Facebook advertising can be used to target business Pages (note the capital P), as opposed to making the adverts appear on individuals pages (note the small p); so B2B targeting can also occur on this platform. And again, by considering interests, job titles and location, a good level of targeting can be achieved. Just like a lot of online B2B marketing, due to longer and more considered buying cycles, it may be worth limiting expectations to generating leads and developing awareness rather than generating direct sales.

B2B advertising is often more challenging. For example, your company sells PC support services; it’s highly doubtful that many people have listed a hobby that indicates their likely to want your services! Consequently, many B2B campaigns have extremely low click-through-rates.

Two final items to consider..
Firstly, click through rates via social media advertising in general, and in particular on Facebook, are extremely low. Obviously this is offset by the potentially huge number of impressions (number of times your advert is seen), but be prepared for some very low numbers. Like, really low, i.e. 0.03% – 0.1%.

Secondly, consider those percentages when calculating a campaign budget if that campaign is to be priced by impression. You may find that even with a significant number of impressions, such a low click through rate may not deliver enough traffic to generate enough new enquiries that actually close into new business. Focussing on conversion optimisation is therefore critical!

If your budget can stretch to it, try running a campaign on both platforms at the same time. If managed correctly, and the messaging is right (maybe different for different platforms?), it should be possible to definitively answer the question of which platform is right for your business.

Do you need to outsmart your competitors? Contact us now on 01449 782235 to discuss what you need and how we can help you meet your goals.

Why not find out more about Business Vitamins, Strategic B2B marketing agency, in Suffolk.

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