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As two social media powerhouses, both Facebook and LinkedIn offer tremendous advertising potential for businesses. However, not all social media platforms are created equal. Facebook and LinkedIn each have their distinct advantages and disadvantages depending on what you're trying to do and who you're trying to reach.
To help determine whether Facebook or LinkedIn is the right paid social advertising avenue for your organization’s specific campaign, you'll want to start by understanding the unique features of both platforms.
With more than 2 billion users worldwide and 50 million businesses using a Facebook Business Page, Facebook has defined itself as a leader in the social media realm. Their success has ultimately evolved through their expansive advertising network, which, despite recent criticisms and controversy, is estimated to generate $21.57 billion in U.S. ad revenues in 2018 alone. In fact, Facebook ad revenue in the U.S. is expected to exceed total print ad spending by 2019.
Facebook’s ownership of Instagram also presents further opportunities for marketers using Facebook as a paid advertising tool to expand their network reach through another platform.
It's important to understand that when you advertise through Facebook’s platform, the ads you create can be promoted through both Facebook, Messanger, and Instagram simultaneously (or separately), and even displayed on other websites through Facebook's ad network. You'll only need to build your ads once through Facebook’s advertising tool, which minimizes your marketing efforts for multiple platforms into one. This offers you additional audience reach through your dedicated campaign budget.
When building Facebook ads, you have a few options:
- Link Ads – Drive audiences to specific pages of your site to help build the traffic to your website
- Examples include:
- Video ads
- Carousel ads (displaying up to 10 images or videos in one single post)
- Examples include:
- Lead Ads – Gated content that requires individuals to submit personal information into a form in order to view the content
- Business Page Like Ads – Promote your Business Page to increase your number of page likes
Facebook’s audiences can be segmented by distinct details such as:
- Geographic location
- Job titles
- Online behaviors
You can segment audiences a step further by building custom audiences from current customer lists or by re-targeting people who recently viewed content on your website.
Facebook charges advertisers at a CPC (cost per click) or CPM (cost per mille – cost an advertiser pays for one thousand clicks or views from an ad). The CPC or CPM of promoted ads depends on several factors: demographics, size of your target audience, or the social network itself.
Facebook’s advertising network tends to be less expensive for marketers than other social advertising platforms. The average CPC and CPM of Facebook ads is $0.27 and $4.03.
To evaluate the results of your campaign, these are the key metrics to understand within Facebook’s ad platform:
- Impressions – The number of times your ads were on screen.
- Reach – The number of people who saw your ads at least once. Reach is different than impressions, as impressions may include multiple views of your ads by the same people.
- Cost per result – The average cost per result from your ads.
- Frequency – The average number of times individuals saw your ad.
- Unique link clicks – The number of people who performed a link click.
- Button clicks – The number of times someone clicked on the call-to-action button of your ad.
- Click Through Rate (CTR) - Indicates how many times someone clicked on the link in your ad compared to how many times they saw it.
- Relevance score – Facebook’s ad rating score ranging from 1 to 10. This score estimates how well your ads are resonating with your audience. A score of 7 or higher means your ads are resonating well with your target audiences. Facebook will incentivize you for a higher relevance score by lowering your overall costs.
Well-known as the world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn’s advertising platform is another key asset to marketers. With more than 450 million users, LinkedIn’s growing advertising platform has made its mark alongside Facebook as another significant tool to get in front of businesses or consumers.
While Facebook is more of a social platform, LinkedIn positions itself as a network for businesses, engaging users on a less “social” level and serving as an outlet for recruitment, expertise, and connections in a professional environment. Marketers can utilize LinkedIn’s ad network to directly target key decision makers within an organization, along with reaching influencers and opinion leaders whose reach could make an impact on their brand.
Like Facebook, LinkedIn offers a number of ways to build your ads through their Advertising Campaign Manager tool:
- Sponsored content – Promote news, articles, or even posts on your company page. This advertising option can either direct website traffic back to your site or allow you to gate your content through lead generation ads that require your audience to submit personal information to access a story or some other form of content.
- Text ads – This desktop-only option allows you to drive traffic from LinkedIn to either your Company Page or company website. These ads are showcased as text link advertisements at the top or side of the page.
- Sponsored InMail – This option enables you to send personalized messages to targeted LinkedIn professionals through LinkedIn Messenger or email.
LinkedIn advertising campaigns allow you to target very specific professional details, such as:
- Company name, industry, geography and size
- Job titles, functions, and seniority
- Member skills, schools, fields of study, and degrees
LinkedIn follows similar cost structures to Facebook, charging marketers at a rate for CPC and CPM. The average CPC within LinkedIn tends to be higher than Facebook – around $6.50 per click.
LinkedIn also requires marketers to place a bid against other marketers for ad placement on the network. LinkedIn will make bid amount recommendations for you based on estimates of competing bids for the same target audience, but you are able to specify the maximum amount you are willing to pay for each click.
When evaluating the success of your campaign, here are a few of the key LinkedIn data metrics you’ll want to understand:
- Average Click-through Rate (Avg. CTR) – The percentage of people that clicked the ad to go to your website
- Social – The volume of social engagements your ad receives: likes, comments, shares, and follow clicks
- Average Engagement – A percentage that reflects how often people engaged with an ad
- Average Cost Per Click (CPC) – The total spent on an ad divided by total clicks to your website
- Conversions Rate – The percentage of clicks that lead to a conversion, calculated by conversions divided by clicks
Now that we've broken down Facebook and LinkedIn’s advertising platforms, there are a few questions you’ll finally want to consider for your campaign:
1. What type of content are you promoting?
The content itself plays a vital role in deciding which social platform is right for your paid campaign. Consider an audience's intent on either Facebook or LinkedIn's platform and how your content might resonate with them from there.
For example, professionals using LinkedIn to connect with influencers in their industry may be more receptive to a promoted post with relevant educational information for their career than a promoted post for clothing items to purchase. It's important to understand what role Facebook and LinkedIn both serve as social media platforms and think of how your content fits the expectations of the users on that platform.
2. Which audience are you trying to reach?
Your audience is going to play a big role in the success of your campaign. Just as it's critical to have knowledge of Facebook and LinkedIn's platforms, it's also important to understand which audiences use these networks and which audience you specifically want to reach through your campaign.
Consider whether you're focused on reaching businesses or consumers, specific locations or demographics, etc. The more details you can gather about your target audience, the easier it will be to compare whether or Facebook or LinkedIn, or both, can accommodate your audience specifications.
3. What are your goals and metrics of success for this campaign?
After you've determined which content you'll promote and the audience you'd like to reach, it's essential to create campaign goals and metrics that will ultimately determine whether or not the campaign was successful. Are you focused on creating awareness around your brand? Are you interested in driving traffic to your website or generating "X" number of leads? Determining what results you'd like to see prior to launching a campaign will help you make adjustments throughout the campaign and serve as examples for campaigns in the future.
4. What is your campaign budget?
Your overall campaign budget could have an impact on whether you advertise on LinkedIn or Facebook. Throughout your evaluation, consider how your goals could align with costs. For instance, if your campaign is solely focused on driving as much traffic as possible to a blog article and your budget is limited, it may make sense to promote your content on Facebook where the average cost per click tends to be lower.
Regardless of which social network you choose for your paid social advertising campaign, there's no right or wrong answer for your choice. Experimenting with your content strategy, audiences, and budgets over time will give you insight into what works best for your organization and build successful future campaigns.