6 Ways That Facebook is Better Than LinkedIn for B2B Marketing

We work with many B2B clients who want to engage with their audience via social media. We often get the question about investment in LinkedIn vs. Facebook. You would think LinkedIn would be better for marketing to B2B customers. It’s designed for business. People use it only for business. They want you to use it for business. 120 million business people use it.

The only problem is that it’s not as good as Facebook for B2B marketing.

That doesn’t sound right, now does it?

After all, we know Facebook is for posting pictures of the kids’ soccer games, for saying happy birthday, for following consumer products, for keeping in touch with your friends. I mean, it’s aimed at consumers, isn’t it?

On the surface, yes. Below the surface, the business audience is there because consumers are business people too. Ultimately, the overriding reason to consider Facebook over LinkedIn is that business people spend more time on it. Please pay attention: they spend more time on it, so you – the B2B marketer – need to take advantage of that one overriding fact. It will help make you successful in social media.

So, tell me, how could Facebook be better for B2B social media marketing?

6 Ways That Facebook is Better Than LinkedIn

1. Facebook has created a development platform that makes it easier to create custom web pages. It’s really hard to do the same thing, with the same ease, with the same nicely designed results on LinkedIn.

2. All those business people are already on Facebook. They may not have joined with business in mind, but they are there. The majority of the 800+ million are involved in business.

3. You can find them. Just like on LinkedIn, you can customize your search to find the people you want to reach.

4. You can find their friends too. Facebook is much more effective than LinkedIn at exponential reach through friends of friends, and it is likely that your business audience is connected with their professional peers on Facebook.

5. You can protect them, if you need to. You can create closed, invitation only communities and protect the information about individuals within that community. We’ve done that for very security-sensitive executive users (CIOs and CTOs)! Here’s a link to the VMware CxO Corner on Facebook.

6. People spend more time on Facebook. It turns out that this last point is a big deal when comparing Facebook to LinkedIn.
People log onto LinkedIn for a few key reasons:

  • To update their resume
  • To post a job
  • To look for a job
  • To make a connection, often associated with posting or looking for a job

People go onto Facebook for many, many other reasons, and as a result, they go onto Facebook a lot more often, and spend a lot more time on it. Businesses that take advantage of business people who are spending time on Facebook will engage with those business users.

I have seen studies showing that business people spend more time on LinkedIn. Hmmm. The studies are flawed. They typically ask where do business people go today for business information. Well, if we B2B marketers aren’t using Facebook for business, then of course, they get their information today from LinkedIn. Duh. The results of these studies will change only when you change your approach.

While LinkedIn is not to be ignored (it has many good qualities), if you’re going to focus your efforts toward B2B audiences, invest more in Facebook. How have your results compared between Facebook and LinkedIn?

Comments

  1. says

    While what you tell about the size of Facebook is correct, it all depends on what frame of mind a businessman is when he logs into facebook.

    A CEO/HR/Manager/Marketer spends most of his time in office making deals. But he logs on to FB only to chill out and catch up on his friends, and not to make business deals.

    But when he goes to LinkedIn, he’s in a ‘business-y’ frame of mind and would be more receptive to what you say.

    I looked at the facebook community of VMWare and was disappointed to see such a low engagement in a community having 44k members.

    Hardly saw any post with 50 likes and/or 10 comments in the last 15 days. And this pretty much explains why FB is not better than LinkedIn for B2B marketing.

  2. says

    Rakesh, thanks for your comment.

    You are correct that the visitor to LI is in a “business-y” frame of mind. Our studies show they just don’t visit often enough.

    Regarding engagement on VMware … unfortunately, the site to which I refer is a closed community, so you can’t see the engagement inside. I can assure you that we are meeting our engagement targets with this very hard-to-reach audience.

    Glenn Gow

  3. says

    I have to agree with Rakesh. Every business I have been involved in has been 3-6 times as successful using LinkedIn over Facebook. Not form advertising either, mind you, but from sharing and discussing content. I have seen an average of 5 lead generations a day come form simply engaging people on LinkedIn. How many from Facebook? Zero. Ever. Not a single one, even though as much time was initially invested there to best gauge for ourselves where time should be spent.

  4. says

    Samantha,

    I’m very glad to hear of your successes on LI. We also have seen success on LI.

    At the same time, we have seen vastly greater participation and engagement when we compare our LI results with our FB results.

    We will continue to use LI, FB, Twitter, YouTube and now Google+ for our B2B work and will continue to integrate these together while measuring the impact of each.

    I hope you see better results in the future on FB. Good luck!

  5. says

    First off, I would agree with you that TODAY, Facebook is a better place for B2B marketing in most cases. My company is a Preferred Developer Consultant on Facebook and we utilize FB for both B2B and B2C campaigns.

    That being said, LinkedIn is actively moving to reap their large, business-focused audience for marketers. LinkedIn just announced the launch of a certified developers program to tackle the creation of more innovative campaigns on their existing platform.

    Facebook seeks to be THE social layer over the entire internet, everything to everybody. LinkedIn is smart to retain their singular focus on business and to move methodically forward in the marketing/advertising on their platform.

    For example, thismoment just started using the new company updates functionality and we already see more leveraged engagement around our content. LinkedIn removes the clutter (friends, entertainment content, “social” messaging) from a business person’s view as they research for information about B2B services and products. Less distraction = more sales, in my book.

    I think 2012 will be a very good year for LinkedIn and Facebook, and Social Media Marketers will benefit from the coming changes on both platforms.

  6. says

    Chris,

    Thanks for your comments. It will be very interesting to watch LI compete with FB for the B2B audience.

    Ultimately integrating campaigns with both of them, and other channels is going to remain critical to get the reach and engagement our clients seek.

    Glenn

  7. says

    I think I’m with Rakesh and Samantha on this one, for the most part. Although any means of networking can be beneficial to business, LinkedIn has a “business” reputation where people go to make business connections.

  8. says

    Danielle,

    I think both will always be important.

    As I mention, LI has many good qualities. What we are seeing, however, is an incredible volume of B2B connection and engagement on FB that far exceeds LI.

    Glenn

  9. says

    I also agree with Rakesh and Samantha on this one.

    I agree that your audience is almost certainly *present* on Facebook. But my experience is they are not willing to *engage* with you about business matters on Facebook. We tried for years and got a pathetically small audience (almost as many employees/resellers/partners as actual customers or prospects), and almost zero engagement from our Facebook efforts.

    My advice for B2B marketers is to create the Facebook page for your company to ensure appropriate branding. Then turn it over to the HR department because it is a better recruiting and employee morale tool than a marketing tool. Worse: Facebook is a time sink for B2B marketers and a “red herring” that makes all other social media efforts seem stinky. Your time is better spent on other social media (LinkedIn groups and PPC, user communities, blogging, Twitter) and traditional marketing efforts (search, email, content).

  10. says

    Bob, I’d love to learn from your experience.

    Why do you think FB didn’t work for you? … and perhaps more importantly, what worked for you on LI?

    Glenn

  11. says

    Hi Glenn. To elaborate on what I already mentioned…

    #1: Despite a lot of effort over 3 years we had great difficulty building a large audience of followers. At its height we had about 3000 followers. But about half of them were PTC employees/resellers/partners. For all the work that went into it, we could have more easily and cost-effectively sourced that audience through traditional means (database building, list purcahse/rental, etc.) and driven real measurable marketing metrics from our efforts.

    #2: We had great difficulty getting followers to engage. It was almost entirely a one-way effort of PTC posting content and fans receiving it (and PTC employees dutifully clicking the “like” and “share” buttons).

    The original PTC Facebook fan page has since been discontinued and/or fractured into even smaller efforts. Ultimately we launched a separate online user community based on Jive and we experienced much better membership and engagement results.

    I have documented much of it in my blog post entitled “Facebook Doesn’t Work For B2B, But Here Are 4 Social Media Marketing Techniques That Do”: http://bit.ly/b2bhebeisen_facebook

    It would be great to hear more details about your success with VMWare… How many followers? How much engagement (fan growth, sharing, commenting, uploading, etc.)? Any measurable lead generation or sales resulting from Facebook? The world is starving for a good B2B Facebook success story, so if you have one then please share the details.

  12. says

    Bob,

    Yes, the VMware CxO page is considered quite successful (by VMware), and the metrics are not the norm. We are purposely limiting the size of it, and rejecting many who want to be part of it. It’s truly an exclusive community and therein lies part of the appeal.

    The purpose is for it to be part of an integrated global approach to creating relationships with a high-level audience, on an on-going basis.

    The stats are confidential to VMware. However, we are meeting our targets. One secret of success is that we’re not just posting to get likes. Our content strategy is designed to move the discussion about VMware in a particular direction, with a notoriously difficult audience to communicate with.

    Hope that helps.

    Glenn

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