Good marketing and effective B2B sales do not exist without extensive online activities, especially on social media. For a long time, Facebook Ads were regarded as one of the most effective ways of generating B2B leads online, while trends coming from the West have clearly shown that LinkedIn - a portal created for making business contacts - has come to the fore in recent years. In this article, we present and compare these two channels for supporting online marketing and sales to answer the question of which is more effective: LinkedIn or Facebook Ads?
Facebook Ads - what is advertising and how does it work?
Facebook Ads is a popular advertising system that allows you to target content to a defined audience in four areas: Facebook, Instagram, Messenger or Audience Network. The platform for creating and configuring paid campaigns is the Facebook Ads Manager - it is here that we can select the target group, determine where the ad will be displayed, its format and finally set the budget. However, the management of advertising campaigns on FB is complicated and requires specialist knowledge, which we write in more detail later in this article. The very structure of an advertising campaign consists of three main levels: campaign, ad set and advertisement. It is worth knowing that a properly prepared advertisement differs very little from a classic post.
How do Facebook Ads work? Facebook's advanced algorithm matches ad content to users who may be interested in it due to their preferences, hobbies or previous activity under specific posts. The huge amount of aggregated data and the resulting extensive knowledge of the portal's users is an unquestionable advantage of Facebook Ads, but due to the enormous competition, reaching potential customers from the B2B sector in this way has become much more difficult in recent years.
Facebook Ads - how much does it cost to market and sell B2B on Facebook?
Companies that do or intend to start marketing and selling B2B on Facebook have to reckon with the rising costs of business activities undertaken on the portal owned by Mark Zuckerberg. The transformation of Facebook Inc. into Meta Platforms Inc. at the end of October 2021 officially launched a long-term process that should enable the Silicon Valley giant to reach hundreds of millions of new users, and that of course means even more competition. Even today, paid campaigns on Facebook, aimed mainly at generating B2B leads and increasing sales, resemble a peculiar auction of rates, where daily budgets of several dozen or even several hundred PLN are no longer able to ensure satisfactory conversion without the support of high-class specialists.
Just a glance at the numbers: Facebook Ads specialist Natalia Charzynska writes on her blog: "The vast majority of people who report problems with ads to me have a small advertising budget. It is usually PLN 1000-3000 per month". Even greater financial outlays are necessary in the case of campaigns for industries with an exceptionally high degree of competitiveness - in this case, the monthly amounts allocated for advertising on FB may even amount to over 10 thousand PLN! The considerable sums consumed by B2B advertising and marketing on Facebook are therefore often unattainable for small and medium-sized enterprises. Facebook Ads rates, which have been very high in recent years, are a natural consequence of market saturation - nowadays almost every company uses this form of advertising, and additionally many leaders "raise" these rates.
B2B sales on Facebook are supported by the Facebook Shop / Facebook Marketplace platform, which allows users to go from the portal directly to the given online shop, where the entire purchase process is finalised. This solution is currently free (until 30 June 2022), but although imperfect - it does not have all the functionality offered by a standard e-commerce platform (e.g. no "buy now" option, unregulated payment and shipping issues, much less advanced security system than in the case of Allegro or eBay). Sales on FB still take place using dedicated Facebook groups and the MLM method (Multi-Level Marketing, network marketing) - in both of these cases there is no need to pay any sales charges.
Why Facebook Ads - advantages and disadvantages
The main advantage of Facebook Ads is that you can place ads in various forms (including graphics, video, product collection, carousel, and slideshow). You can also decide on your own when to start your FB Ads campaign and the budget allocated to it. A great added value is a remarketing option, i.e. the possibility to display your advertising on the Facebook platform for users who have previously visited our website (for this purpose, you must install and configure the Facebook pixel on your site).
The main disadvantage is, of course, the declining effectiveness of Facebook advertising, which more and more users simply ignore in the sea of content (not just sponsored content) that floods them from everywhere. The huge competition has in turn translated into an increase in FB Ads rates, and the small amounts allocated to a campaign no longer guarantee a satisfactory conversion. At the same time, it is worth remembering that Facebook is a social network currently used by over 2.89 billion users from all over the world, but most of them for private purposes. It is therefore not always possible to reach a potential customer at the right moment. Moreover, only 21% of business leaders use Facebook for strictly professional activities, according to a study by Kozminski University. By comparison, 97% of Polish managers use LinkedIn for professional purposes.
Another weakness of Facebook Ad campaigns is also imprecise targeting of the target group in B2B industries (lack of precise information about the users' professional activity, as well as lack of access to their contact details, which makes it impossible to maintain contact) and a relatively long time of waiting for measurable effects. In certain cases, they may even… not come at all. "Even if we launch the best campaign in the world, and the product or communication is poor on the client's side, the campaign will not work […] Business involves risk and you have to assume that something may go wrong and that a given strategy chosen for, say, 3 months will prove ineffective. […] Unfortunately, we are not able to guarantee results in any way," say specialists from a leading Polish Internet marketing agency.
LinkedIn - what is it and who is it for?
LinkedIn is a social network for professionals from all industries, facilitating the free establishment of professional and business contacts. Over the nearly 20 years of its existence, LinkedIn has grown to an impressive size - it now has over 800 million users worldwide, including around 4.6 million in Poland. The growing number of users has accelerated the decision of many companies to move their B2B marketing and sales to LinkedIn. Although LinkedIn's market penetration in Central and Eastern Europe is lower than in Western Europe and the United States, current trends indicate a very rapid development of the platform in the CEE region, too.
In particular, LinkedIn is actively used by people in managerial, executive and director positions (owner, manager, director, chairman of the board, board member, CEO, Founder, etc.), recruiters and job applicants. Most users represent the following industries: information technology and services (about 4 million worldwide), construction (4 million), marketing and advertising (3 million), retail (3 million), financial services (3 million), banking (2 million), automotive (2 million), real estate (2 million), hospitals and healthcare (2 million), education management (2 million) and food and beverages (2 million).
LinkedIn - is marketing and selling B2B worth it on this site?
As the world's largest and most popular social network dedicated to the business sector, LinkedIn has become an ideal place for marketing, sales and personal branding. Its community is very friendly to interaction and open to all forms of business cooperation. All you need to do is to have an account on LinkedIn, set up your profile accordingly and skillfully expand your network of contacts. There are even methods which speed up the process - it is possible to accumulate even 20,000 new contacts within one year! This is huge capital, which if properly used should translate into increased sales and revenue.
A professional profile that reinforces the image of a specialist in a given field plays a significant role in whether our B2B marketing and sales activities on LinkedIn are successful. The vast majority of LinkedIn users are more likely to work with people whose competences match the information on their profile. There are many ways to establish yourself as an expert in your field on LinkedIn: you can establish direct contact through the site's built-in messenger, publish engaging posts, join industry groups or organise online events. Importantly, you don't have to pay for any of these activities!
Social selling on LinkedIn requires an individual approach to the customer, which is greatly facilitated by the aforementioned messenger (through personalised private messages, after which the user receives a notification in his or her e-mail inbox). This makes it possible to get a potential customer even more effectively interested in your product or service. The creators of the platform have even prepared the LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI) - an indicator measuring the individual sales potential on LinkedIn for a specific user. The algorithm calculates the SSI based on the analysis of four main areas, such as professional image, skilful networking and acquiring valuable contacts, engagement on the portal and establishing long-term relationships on LinkedIn.
Facebook Ads vs LinkedIn - a comparison In a direct weigh-up taking into account the most important criteria for business, LinkedIn currently performs significantly better than Facebook Ads. Both of these modern B2B sales and marketing channels are fully accessible to everyone and comply with GDPR regulations. LinkedIn's advantages already become apparent in the financial aspect. After creating a free account, we can use the free search engine to help us find and connect with decision-makers. Accepting an invitation, in turn, opens up access to their details such as job title, industry, company size, email address and often a phone number. This creates our own private database of B2B leads, without the need to pay an external entity for the service.
LinkedIn also has the advantage of being much less competitive, as it is still considered a novelty in the market of business communication platforms and environments. Sales Robots specialists estimate that only 10% of companies currently use this portal to communicate with their customers, so it is worth starting your business activities on LinkedIn before it becomes even more popular.
Significant differences can also be seen in the ease of reaching a potential customer and the reaction of the audience themselves. Unlike Facebook, it's common and perfectly acceptable on LinkedIn to make contact with people you haven't met in person before, but you find their professional profile interesting. Middle and senior managers are open to expanding their network by inviting and accepting invitations from other users.
LinkedIn also provides a broad and completely free database of business contacts, while the accuracy of targeting for B2B industries is significantly higher than with Facebook Ads. In addition, the configuration of advertising campaigns on FB requires a great deal of skill and expertise in the use of a complex panel, whereas most activities on LinkedIn are simple and intuitive (e.g. easy-to-use free search engine, sending an invitation to make contact with just one click, clearly separated sections with profile information).
Facebook Ads vs LinkedIn - a summary
The dynamic growth of LinkedIn users over the last few years clearly shows the direction in which online B2B communication, advertising, marketing and sales will develop. It is no coincidence that three of the five strongest economies in the world - the United States (180 million users), India (81 million) and China (51 million) - are on the podium of the list of countries with the largest number of registered accounts on this portal, which are now setting new global business trends (data from Statista). These trends are now also spreading to Poland, where 97% of business leaders already have a LinkedIn account and actively use it for professional purposes.
Social selling, marketing automation and growth hacking are undoubtedly the future of the B2B sector and are becoming the present before our eyes. LinkedIn makes it possible to carry out all these activities on a single platform, the characteristics of which are extremely conducive to establishing business relationships. Facebook Ads, on the other hand, is better suited to B2C representatives and certain B2B companies in the cosmetics, clothing, entertainment and catering sectors.
In the next article, we will compare LinkedIn with the Google Ads advertising system. For a solid dose of expert knowledge, check out our previous articles on topics such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator, marketing and sales automation, and methods and tips for generating sales leads on social media.