4 Reasons Why LinkedIn (and not Facebook) Might be the Better Choice for Your Company

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Successful social media marketing is about knowing where your customers are and establishing a presence there.  It is clear that professionals from all demographics are spending a great deal of time with social media, and that Facebook is the main networking site where we spend (or rather, waste) our time.  However, simply because many people are on Facebook does not mean it’s the best use of time and effort for businesses.  As a matter of fact, if you asked most people what they use their social networking channels for, they would say Facebook for personal and private use, and LinkedIn for professional use.  So, while most people – including decision makers with whom you want to connect, use Facebook to connect with friends and family, LinkedIn is viewed by professionals as a trusted place to network.  Therefore, not only is the perceived purpose of each site different, so is the demographic; many more experienced professionals are not represented, or are simply not active, on Facebook.  And while LinkedIn may have fewer users, the professional mindset and ability to network with other people who are on the site for the same reason make it a much more valuable tool for B2B companies.

Admittedly, there are many similarities between the two sites.  For example, both offer platforms so that people can become part of a business community.  For Facebook, these are called Fan Pages.  For LinkedIn, they are called Companies Pages.  Facebook Fan Pages allow people to interact via wall postings and optional applications, while LinkedIn Companies Pages allow professionals to recommend company products and services as well as add comments to their recommendations.  LinkedIn followers can see who in their network made what company recommendation just as Facebook users can see which of their friends like certain pages.

With that being said, let’s take closer look at how LinkedIn provides better B2B business opportunities than Facebook:

More targeted professional community-building:  LinkedIn’s feature to follow a company allows you to “like” it simply by following it. When compared to a Facebook “like,” those following your LI page are much more relevant to the business aspect of your company simply due to their professional demographic. Above and beyond that, you can ask professionals to “recommend” products and services on your Companies Page, which has more inherent value to a company than a mere “like.”

Better page management tools: Many Facebook Fan Page administrators have problems managing their pages efficiently because settings don’t allow for specific content control.  LinkedIn, however, has several moderation tools built into the groups that allow for granular detail regarding who can post what.  For instance, the process for Group admins to easily search through members, add them as managers, delete them, etc. is simple.  Facebook does not offer such extensive features.  In that respect, LI Groups are at the cutting edge of community management on any major social media site.

Public access allows for greater engagement with interested people and increased visibility:  Up until recently, Facebook Fan Pages had been the open arena in which people could engage.  Previously, the problem with LI Groups was that they were private worlds; unless you were a member of the group, you couldn’t see inside it.  However, LI began to allow existing groups to become public, and new public-only groups to be created.  And, now that Fan Pages and public Groups offer virtually the same benefits regarding SEO and visibility, there is little reason for companies not to be active on LinkedIn.

Group members are allowed more room for in-depth conversation:  The engagement on Groups is significant because there is a lot of room for discussion; users are not confined to the small and limited status update boxes such as those used on Facebook.  Furthermore, Groups offer daily and weekly digests so that followers can stay on top of discussions through email, a feature that is lacking with Pages.

I hope this has helped you understand the sales and marketing potential of the LinkedIn platform and demographic.  In 2011, we are already seeing signs that many marketers, especially those in B2B industries, are starting to realize this.  A recent report indicated that B2B marketers use LinkedIn more than Facebook for marketing.  So with that, there is no question that for an increasing number of companies, LinkedIn is the preferred social media channel for business.

Has LinkedIn become the preferred social media channel for your company?

linkedin business marketing book The above is a summary of selected content from my critically acclaimed new LinkedIn for business book “Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing,” available at Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or iTunes.

Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professionals strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

@nealschaffer

Author, @MaxYourSocial | Founder @msocialbusiness | Trilingual Social Media Strategy Consultant, Coach, and Speaker | 日米ソーシャルメディア専門家|G+: https://t.co/BqaJvubiP8
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Comments

  1. says

    Neal, I think LinkedIn hasn’t become my preferred platform for my company because it’s not as social as Facebook or Twitter (and therefore not as engaging).

    However, I do use it for very particular instances and am very familiar with many of the benefits available…

    …admins can email group members once a week (this is critical in my opinion)
    …there’s greater opportunity to express your thoughts in group discussions
    …it maps out your professional relationships and how they’re connected to one another

    Just thought I’d throw my thoughts into the conversation.

    Cheers.

    • says

      Thanks Chase. For me, it’s not about becoming emotionally tied to one platform or another. It’s a business tool, and if you are in B2B, you need to use the tool that your customers use.

  2. says

    Linkedin is a great tool to keep track of your clients. People are more likely to update their new place of work in Linkedin than in Facebook. If you need to get hold of someone specific in a company, you can quite often find someone in your network who can introduce you.

  3. Anonymous says

    Neal:

    I’d agree that Linkedin is fantastic for B2B marketing however, if your sales model is mass market you’re far better served by a combination of Facebook and Twitter. You have to go where the people are and where they stay engaged for longer. For now, that’s not Linkedin.

    • says

      Hi Julian,

      Well, I wrote this post because everyone share’s your comment, and I find B2B companies going to Facebook before LinkedIn. The objective to my post is that Facebook is NOT for everyone and depends on your objective. As I believe I said in my post, if you are B2C Facebook is a no-brainer – but LinkedIn is as much of a no-brainer for B2B. Twitter is for both worlds. Makes sense?

      – Neal

      • says

        That makes zero sense (to me) because there is no difference between B2B and B2C. Both are H2H relationships. People selling services to other people. Individuals talking to each other. Once you take that perspective, Facebook is more sensical because of the numbers and the fact people are more themselves over there.

        • says

          So, if I am trying to sell a $1 million software product to Oracle, it will be easier for me to find and interact with that decision maker on Facebook rather than LinkedIn? To me Facebook makes no sense for B2B because, 1) it’s hard to find the decision maker using Facebook search and 2) many decision makers don’t want to engage with people they don’t know on Facebook. Am I missing something Ari?

          • says

            Neal, I think I agree with you and not Ari, here (though Ari and I usually see things the same way, so I’m surprised). Yes, B2B and B2C are H2H relationships. However, most B2C sales are “personal,” not business, so interacting with those prospects on Facebook makes sense. If I look at most of my Facebook “Likes,” they are personal/entertainment related. It’s what I expect to see there. I don’t interact with my personal Facebook page for business. However, when I’m on LinkedIn, I expect to see more business related stuff. So it’s not that you can’t sell business services on Facebook, it’s just not as good a fit.

            For myself, I think I’m far more likely to get better promotion of my upcoming fiction books on Facebook than LinkedIn. However, I think I’ll get better promotion for my (also upcoming) non-fiction book on LinkedIn because the topic is aimed at a business market, instead of a general consumer market.

            Which doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore the other platform. Hey, some of my LinkedIn connections may be really into vampires and werewolves. ;)

          • says

            Juli, it’s simple to look at it this way: If you are trying to sell to consumers you obviously want to focus your efforts on Facebook. If you are trying to sell to book distributors, how do you find them on Facebook? MUCH easier to find them on LinkedIn, see who works there, how you’re connected, and then ask for the connection. Right? B2B means that you don’t always know the _person_ you are trying to sell to because you are selling to an _organization_.

  4. Tomeka Napper says

    I would like to thank you for writing this post. It gives me some insight on what to do next as I continue to build my business and myself as a brand. One of the things I was thinking about is actually shutting down my personal facebook page…or taking it down to just 6 of my closest friends. The reason being, is that I am in the entertainment field…particularly strategic business building and management…and I have been finding that my friends ask me for advice all the time on how to do something.  Before it was ok when I was going to school for it…but now I have a business and this is what I do…and I feel that they have easy access to me on my facebook page to ask me questions on how to build their business, and not pay. Now, I do have a business facebook page that I personally did not connect to my personal facebook page. However, just last week, I was getting very frustrated trying to navigate through it…and now I cannot even get in without setting up a personal profile, which I do not want to do. This article literally just answered my question of options…for building my business outside of facebook.  Another thing this post opened as insight is the lack of interaction. Honestly speaking…half of the advertisers on my page or that I’ve liked…I don’t really interact with and when I find them posting on my wall (unwanted content) I delete them. Simply because I personally view my facebook page as a personal hobby that has nothing to do with product placement. I do however, occasionally support my friends businesses…but then again…I am very careful and choosy about it.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment – yes, a lot of people, especially executives, really DO want to keep their Facebook profiles personal. If you can get your network to connect on LinkedIn, you can now make use of their networks by seeing who they might know that you want to connect with – and vice-versa. Makes a whole lot more sense from a business networking perspective than Facebook does…

    • says

      If your friends ask you for help that’s a good time to set up an appointment with them to discuss what they need. You must set your own professional boundaries. 

      When it comes to engagement I find a lot of people (as happens in networking) leave that up to Other People to make the first effort and do little to initiate engagement on topics that are of interest to the other person.

  5. Tomeka Napper says

    I agree that you need a tool that customers can use…but you also need a tool where strategic business partnerships/collaborations can be made.

  6. says

    Some good points here though it perpetuates the myth that there is an ‘Either/Or’ choice between Linkedin and Facebook. They are different animals and serve different functions.

    Ari is quite right, if I understand him – people relate one to one and that can be easier on FB. Which isn’t to say that pitching a $M deal on FB would be the appropriate way to go, but like other aspects of life – Context is Everything.

    Connect on FB if it is appropriate. Certainly don’t barge in on people you don’t know socially putting them in an awkward position of having to refuse your connection request.  But make sure your Linkedin profile is complete, your Business Profile on Linkedin is complete and that you know how to make the best of the functionality there.

    It can be surprising where our connections choose to be more engaged. Leave it up to them to set the pace.

    • says

      It’s all about what your company’s objective is in social media. I wrote the blog post to show that not every company was interested in “virality” alone. I agree that word definitely moves faster on Twitter and Facebook, but once again it could be completely irrelevant if that’s not where your target customer is…

  7. says

    LinkedIn is a far more effective network for connecting about business. Less time wasted, less fluff, more direct and obvious value. That is especially true now that LinkedIn recently added all the new sections that allow you to showcase your projects and what you have to offer. 

    People need to get over the concept that more is better and quantity is everything. It doesn’t matter how viral something you do becomes if no one who sees it ACTS and hires you. The ONLY thing that REALLY works is PERSONAL RECOMMENDATIONS. 

    I highly recommend reading Andy Lopata’s book Recommended because I have found what he wrote in it to be absolutely true. I also came across a video on YouTube of him presenting I’ve been meaning to create a post around because most people are focused on what is simply NOT going to work for them. 

    Recommendations from a trusted person are what gets your products and services sold and you hired. Ads and shares raise visibility but they do not usually get people to take action UNTIL someone they personally know insists you (or your product) are worth it.

      • says

        Thanks for taking the time to answer, Neal. I do hope your readers listen because I know first hand that focusing on LinkedIn and REAL relationships with a small group of people is far more effective than going for quantity. Those who really know you and take the time to learn what you do will send you business and gradually that snowballs. That is especially true if they have worked with you. Many who have thousands of connections on LinkedIn are rarely recommended while those with only a targeted  few get more and more work. 

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