LinkedIn Ads boasts a massive conversion-ready network with serious buying power, making it an ideal choice for B2B brands. But Facebook Ads still holds its own for certain brands. Read on for everything you need to know about LinkedIn Ads vs. Facebook Ads.
Here, you’ll find:
- How each ad network supports your B2B marketing
- LinkedIn Ads vs. Facebook Ads when it comes to reaching and converting B2B audiences
- How to leverage both to deliver optimal return on investment (ROI)
LinkedIn is for your co-workers, and Facebook is for your friends (and random cousins you see once a year). But which is best for converting your B2B audience? LinkedIn comes to mind first for its professional networking flair, but today’s B2B marketers shouldn’t sleep on Facebook, either.
At HawkSEM, we serve results like web traffic, conversions, and ROI to our B2B clients across many social networks and ad channels. Today one of our SEM managers, Abigail Beene, a growth and social media marketing superstar with years of experience, joins us to dissect Facebook and LinkedIn advertising for B2B brands.
We’ll walk through the pros and cons of each social media platform and discuss how each one can support your B2B marketing goals.
Cue the comparison.
LinkedIn Ads vs. Facebook Ads: How do they compare?
There are many similarities and differences between LinkedIn and Facebook advertising, which makes it challenging to determine which one you should focus your efforts on.
Every B2B brand should consider these four attributes before deciding on LinkedIn Ads vs. Facebook Ads:
- Audience: Numbers versus quality
- Ad types: Standard versus interactive
- Targeting: Personal versus professional details
- ROI: Cost versus result
Let’s see how each social media advertising platform fares in these categories.
Audience size & demographics
So, how many people use LinkedIn versus Facebook? Or, more importantly, how much of your audience is on each platform?
Let’s start with numbers. Facebook has over 3 billion active users, most of whom use the platform for about half an hour per day. LinkedIn has under one billion users, who spend an average of 7 minutes on the platform each visit.
At first glance, you’d think Facebook has more conversion potential. Isn’t marketing just a numbers game? Not quite.
You can’t just cast a massive, general net into an abyss of potential customers and hope to catch a bite. You might generate some interest and awareness, but you won’t get those coveted conversions if an audience of quality leads can’t see your campaigns.
Beene weighs in:
“Overall, user amount is actually a positive factor, as your target audience is likely on the platform and available for reach. But what makes it harder to produce higher quality leads is their limited targeting options. If Meta isn’t able to offer a way to narrow down to your ideal audience you could end up reaching the wrong people.”
So how is LinkedIn different?
LinkedIn’s undeniable B2B audience
LinkedIn members have a few features that align better with a B2B audience than Facebook does, like:
- More conversion-ripe: LinkedIn users are six times more likely to convert than those on other platforms.
- Decision-making power: LinkedIn members have clearance within their companies!
- Higher buying power: Looking to sell a high-tier subscription for your B2B finance SaaS business? People on LinkedIn can handle that price tag on behalf of their employers.
Beene also points to the “consumer behavior” of people on LinkedIn as a pro for B2B marketing.
“Users on LinkedIn are typically in more of a ‘work’ mindset,” she says. “They’re actively looking for leaders in their industry to either follow or learn from, so including thought leadership ads is an awesome addition to any LinkedIn Ads strategy.”
She adds that this is a huge advantage for B2B advertisers on the platform, but a B2C company running LinkedIn Ads vs. Facebook Ads would most likely see lower engagement for this reason.
Still, Facebook’s strength in numbers has its perks. If you launch an ad campaign on Facebook, you might not convert as many decision-makers. But you’ll definitely up your brand awareness and reputation—precious commodities for newer B2B businesses, according to Beene:
“If I had to choose just one for a new company to start out with, I would recommend Meta—as long as the targeting options are a good match for their audience.”
While LinkedIn tends to produce higher quality leads, the CPCs create more of a barrier to entry that can sometimes be challenging for a brand that’s just starting out.
Now that we’ve covered different audiences, let’s discuss how to engage them.
Ad types and formats
Do you want your audience to see a slick video promo on LinkedIn? Perhaps you’d rather build rapport through a personalized message? These are just two of many different ad types.
Here are a few more the two social media marketing platforms share:
- Message ads
- Lead gen ads
- Text ads
- Carousel ads
- Video ads
Ever gotten a dopamine boost by a LinkedIn message notification? Maybe it’s a job offer or useful new network connection.
While message ads aren’t as exciting, the format on LinkedIn allows for personalization and intimacy, which can foster audience trust in business owners. Just remember that LinkedIn recommends only using sponsored InMail Ads for audience targets up to 100,000 tops.
Facebook Messenger offers a similar ad type called InMessage ads, though they don’t always feel as genuine as the ones from LinkedIn.
We’ve all received unsolicited spam messages on both platforms, but Facebook’s tend to lean more shady or unscrupulous, making it a bit harder for your legitimate message ads to reach people.
You just don’t get this kind of inundation on LinkedIn, making the platform’s message ads a bit more trustworthy and likely to land with prospective leads.
That said, Facebook is far from basic when it comes to other ad types. It takes LinkedIn’s image and video ads to the next level with even more visual appeal and creativity thanks to these additional interactive ad types:
- Instant Experience
Beene points out that video advertising is a popular ad type for conversions on both Facebook and LinkedIn. She also prioritizes lead generation ads, which see a bit more success on LinkedIn ads vs. Facebook ads:
“Because this conversion happens right there on the app, these tend to be more affordable. This is a major benefit on an expensive platform like LinkedIn. With Lead Gen Forms on Meta, while they are still more affordable, this can actually add to the amount of lower-quality leads—especially with a shorter, less detailed form.”
So many ad types to choose from; how do you know which ones will resonate best with your audience?
We take the guessing game out of it, and have ample experience with every single one. Let our team of experts help you pinpoint the best ad types for your biz based on proven results and success stories.
Targeting the right audiences
So we know you’ll target more business decision-makers with LinkedIn ads vs. Facebook ads—that’s guaranteed since LinkedIn is a professional networking app.
But what if you have a super-niche audience you want to target beyond a job title or status? LinkedIn is still your go-to.
For example, we leveraged the channel’s account-based marketing (job title and function targeting) to drive a 10% increase in conversions for our B2B client Feedzai using LinkedIn alone.
Let’s look at LinkedIn’s full targeting potential.
LinkedIn audience targeting
Most of LinkedIn’s targeting capabilities look at a potential lead’s professional experience and stature. B2B companies can also target audiences in specific countries and cities.
Here’s how you can use LinkedIn’s audience targeting features:
- Retargeting: Seal the deal by upping the ante on targets who have already seen your ads, visited your website, or answered your lead generation forms.
- Company: Looking to secure your healthcare tech software brand a big contract with the LA General Medical Center? Target LinkedIn members based on the name of their company, and extend that to up to 200 companies. You can also target people based on their company size, growth rate, and industry.
- Job function and seniority: If marketing managers and directors are the common denominator across your new clients, target those job functions on LinkedIn. You can even tack on additional filters like years of experience and degrees to capture a specific audience.
- Demographics: Are most of your clients middle-aged males? You can target that demographic on LinkedIn by filtering.
- Education: Whether your B2B brand is in public policy, computer tech, or investment, you can use education targeting to capture leads with degrees across every niche. This targeting option also lets you focus on education filters by member schools, broader fields of study, and specific skills.
- Interests, Traits, and Groups: Worried you missed a job function or educational detail for some of your audience? Extend your reach to include LinkedIn members with niche-related interests and membership to related subject groups.
But even if you cover interests, job functions, companies, and seniority in your targeting, a qualified lead could still slip through the cracks. The solution? LinkedIn’s Audience Expansion feature can help you include anyone you might have missed in your professional criteria.
Next up: LinkedIn ads vs. Facebook ads in the targeting department.
Facebook Ads targeting
Do you list your resume on Facebook? Probably not—talk about TMI. Let’s be real: Your buddies, relatives, or high school alumnus aren’t on the edge of their seats to learn about the company you work for or your new degree.
Want to know who does care? Your colleagues, potential customers, and professional network (and they’re over on LinkedIn).
People just don’t tend to update that information on Facebook as much as they do on LinkedIn. So what does that mean? You can’t target as deeply based on job details or industry experience.
But you can target core audiences based on location, demographics, and activities — including purchase history. Then there’s Facebook’s custom audiences, which takes ad retargeting to the next level:
- Customer list: Plug in details like email addresses, first names, and phone numbers into your campaign to retarget people who have already purchased your product or signed up for your newsletter.
- App activity: Retarget to audiences who have downloaded and interacted with your app.
- Website visitors: LinkedIn offers this in its retargeting options, too. However, Facebook lets you drill down even deeper by targeting audiences based on the specific web pages they visit on your site. Additionally, you can add time-based filters to target web visitors within a certain number of days.
- Engagement: Curious about the people liking, commenting, and sharing your Facebook content or other Facebook interactions in general? For example, don’t you want to speak to the Facebook members liking your competitor pages? Target them with engagement custom audiences.
Facebook targeting lets you access up to 500 core and custom audience combinations and A/B test them to your heart’s content. Additionally, you can reach more qualified leads through the platform’s Lookalike Audiences (similar to LinkedIn’s Audience Expansion).
But keep in mind:
More leads don’t always mean qualified leads
Beene shares that optimizing audience reach on Meta is a matter of balancing quantity impressions with quality:
“Having those impressions be of the right people is so important. Reach potential is definitely superior on Meta’s platform just due to the lower cost, but ensuring that your audience is specific enough (especially for B2B advertisers) is the key to success.”
And if you’re not reaching the right people? Beene recommends switching to LinkedIn ads vs. Facebook ads:
“Overall reach may be lower [on LinkedIn compared to Meta] but reach from your target audience especially could actually be higher.”
But we haven’t discussed a crucial piece of this puzzle yet: how much you should spend to reach your audience.
Seeing optimal ROI
We could compare LinkedIn ads vs. Facebook ads campaign costs, but that won’t say much about which is better for your budget. Why? Because a higher ad spend is worth it if it brings you leads and conversions (which increase ROI).
Still, we can’t ignore the price difference. Facebook Ads costs are much lower than LinkedIn’s at an average of $0.79 cost per click (CPC). LinkedIn Ads costs show a minimum $2 CPC and average anywhere from $3 to $8, with dynamic ad types costing more.
Beene says Meta’s affordability is a big strength despite its limited targeting options:
“If you can get creative with targeting and implement campaigns using retargeting and lookalike strategies, Meta can be a great option for reaching your audience at an accessible price.”
But how do you balance cost concerns with the desire to tap into LinkedIn’s superior targeting potential? Beene says an ideal strategy is to start with Meta and grow your brand before transitioning to Linkedin as your budget increases.
When comparing performance on each platform, your eyes should hover over return on ad spend (ROAS) and conversion rate over CPC. If your B2B packages have an average cost of $1,000+ per month and your $5 LinkedIn CPC gets you even a couple of conversions, it’s worth it.
Alright, we’ve put LinkedIn ads vs. Facebook ads in the ring to duke it out, so which one swings the knockout punch?
LinkedIn ads vs. Facebook Ads: pros and cons for B2B brands
LinkedIn Ads: pros and cons
- Higher-income and decision-making audiences
- Robust targeting for professional and company details
- More qualified and conversion-ready leads to boost ROI
- Smaller audience numbers, meaning less brand awareness potential
- Limited ad formats compared to Facebook
- Higher CPC and cost per lead (CPL)
Facebook Ads: pros and cons
- Much more affordable
- Massive numbers for brand awareness potential
- Expanded creative possibilities with ad formats
- Limited targeting for professional attributes or company details
- Less-qualified leads since it’s a more casual network
- Trouble targeting within your niche because of high user base
B2B marketing is a game of cat and mouse, but the mice (company decision makers) are few and far between.
The big cheese to catch ‘em is an omnichannel marketing strategy that leverages Facebook’s massive user base and robust ad targeting potential with LinkedIn’s professional targeting and qualified business audience.
Just don’t make the mistake of going trigger-happy with bids on either platform.
Think of it this way: a rushed search for leads on Facebook’s abyss of users might garner views and engagement from personal finance enthusiast Ms. Gloria in Cincinnati. But since she’s retired and more focused on her Florida winters, you definitely won’t convert her to your B2B accounting software.
Similarly, an onslaught of budget dollars to a blind LinkedIn Ads campaign could multiply already-hefty LinkedIn CPC costs to the point where you’re out of business. Yikes.
Looking for a happy medium? Forget LinkedIn ads vs. Facebook ads, and take time to tailor and tweak your campaigns to reach your audience on both platforms. Otherwise, you’re not going to see the ROI you crave.
If you’re ready to surpass your B2B marketing goals, it’s time to partner up with HawkSEM. We’ll dedicate our team of B2B experts and SEO marketing strategists to study and understand your product and audience.
Then, we’ll monitor and tweak existing campaigns and implement new ones to target and convert your niche audience.
Ready to unlock more conversions, traffic, and revenue for your B2B biz? Let’s partner up.