Social media has become a staple in everyday life. With a projected 2.95 billion users this year, social media is a vital platform and a captive audience for marketers.
So it’s no surprise that social media sites have become a major resource for engaging with customers and also an advertising medium with high returns.
While this makes complete sense for consumer businesses, the question is whether advertising on social media platforms also make sense for business-to-business, that is - companies who sell their services and products to other companies, rather than to consumers.
The short answer is yes.
However, the success of a social media advertising for B2B companies relies heavily on the social media platform that you choose to advertise on:
- Facebook has the largest audience with an average monthly user base of over 2.2 billion people (by the end of 2018). Facebook’s structure allows for the posting of both visual and verbal content. Its purpose is to keep people connected with family and friends.
- Instagram is a visual medium that does not work well for written content. Instagram’s main focus is the sharing of images.
- Twitter has over 330 million active monthly users, however the platform limits you to 280 characters. Twitter was created as a medium to create and share ideas and information instantly.
- LinkedIn, which is targeted to business professionals, has over 590 million users by the start of 2019. Like Facebook you can post both visual and verbal content. LinkedIn users are looking for jobs, looking to network or share content and looking to make business connections.
When it comes to B2B, LinkedIn is the most successful platform for capturing quality leads. 26% of B2B decision makers are using LinkedIn and companies that engage through LinkedIn generate 80% of their overall social media marketing leads through LinkedIn.
While LinkedIn may be a great place for B2B companies to engage, does that mean it’s worth it to use their paid options rather than just posting to your company page?
LinkedIn offers two paid options, ads and sponsored content. Here's what each option means:
The first thing to know about LinkedIn ads is that they are more expensive than Facebook ads or a Google Ads campaign.
However, LinkedIn remains the best advertising for B2B companies due to the quality of leads that you gain through a LinkedIn campaign vs a Facebook, Twitter or Google campaign.
This is due to LinkedIn’s audience, which comprises business professionals looking for connections. Also, Facebook and Twitter have more of a consumer audience than a business one.
LinkedIn ads are also quite small. A single sentence text ad appears above the newsfeed and is quite insignificant as it does not jump out at you. The other ad option appears to the right of your newsfeed and displays your logo with the targeted individual’s profile picture inviting them to follow your company page. All-in-all this doesn’t sound so great. Is there a better option?
LinkedIn Sponsored Content
LinkedIn Sponsored Content is the smart way to build qualified leads and is definitely worth the ad spend for B2B companies.
Sponsored content looks like a regular LinkedIn post with an image, accompanying text and link and it appears within the LinkedIn homepage feed of members who fit your targeting criteria.
This is beneficial because the ads are formatted as posts, allowing you more control over the content of your ad and allowing you to direct the viewer to genuine content on your company page. As a result, viewers aren’t turned off right away by a hard sell ad.
Sponsored ad targeting criteria is also beneficial because you can select exactly who sees your sponsored post by location, industry, company size, title and other such qualifiers. This allows your post to be seen on the newsfeeds of people beyond that of your followers.
Sponsored Content can also easily be edited. For instance, if while tracking your sponsored content you notice that one of the pieces isn’t doing as well as the others, you can quickly stop that post and create another with a different image or text blurb to test if it works better. This flexibility allows you to make real-time adjustments for the best possible results.
In conclusion, while LinkedIn ads may be more expensive than Facebook and Twitter ads, they are worth the money. You can still create successful campaigns with relatively small budgets.
The difference is that LinkedIn Ads are not as effective as LinkedIn Sponsored Content. LinkedIn Sponsored Content is a great way to accumulate new quality leads and are well worth the money. They are especially useful when trying to funnel leads to a specific piece of content (whitepaper, blog etc.) or to an event page.