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LinkedIn vs. Facebook for Business in 2011 – The Battle Begins!

HP LinkedIn Company Page Ad 300x245 LinkedIn vs. Facebook for Business in 2011   The Battle Begins! windmill networking photo

LinkedIn and Facebook would seem to have very little in common going into 2011: One platform was created as a closed and trusted networking site for professionals while the roots of the other come from being an open “face book” of college students.  While LinkedIn has built up a dominant presence in the hearts and minds of the professional demographic, Facebook is in the center of consumer culture and many a business who want to capture the hearts and money of us all.  Professionals network on one platform while companies establish Pages on the other.  Ask most companies where they plan to concentrate their social media marketing efforts on in 2011, and most businesses I talk to would mention Facebook and even Twitter before mentioning the professional networking platform.

Recent events, however, may hint at the upcoming battle for business between the two platforms in 2011.

As companies increase their social media marketing budgets to encompass almost 20% of their entire marketing budget, and with online advertising comprising another 15% of marketing budgets, the two social media sites are vying for a potential 1/3 of marketing budgets over the next few years.  Both websites have ad platforms: FB Ads vs. Direct Ads.  But Facebook has companies and LinkedIn has professionals.  If FB can get the professional demographic to better embrace its platform, it will lead to an even greater dominance worldwide and higher advertising revenues.  If LI can get companies to establish a presence similar to like they have on FB Pages, they can start to bring more marketing budgets away from Facebook and over to LinkedIn.  Now, each are vying for what the other has with their latest new functionality.

The battle heated up when LinkedIn announced their new enhanced Company Pages on November 1.  The above image is actually a screenshot direct from LI which looks slightly similar to a FB Page ad, only the “Like” is replaced with a “Recommend” button.  Of course, above and beyond recommending a business, the LinkedIn Follow Company feature already allowed you to “Like” a company by following it.  Over time, those follower numbers have added up to the point where a company like HP has amassed over 160,000 followers.  That’s only a little less than the 170,000 fans HP’s FB Page has.  For a site that has less than 1/5 the user numbers that Facebook has, LinkedIn still has relevance to many businesses because of its overwhelming professional demographic.

When compared to FB Pages, the LI Company featured only a slightly customizable page.  The new enhancements allowed interaction from users for the first time, allowing them to now “Recommend” company products and services, add comments to their recommendations, and see who in their network made what company recommendations just as Facebook users can see which of their friends “Like” a page.  According to the LI blog post, the functionality should be available by now to all companies who have their own LI Company Page.

If you don’t think that LI Company Pages are vying for the marketing budget that may be going to Facebook Pages, check out this quote from the same Linkedn blog post from HP’s CMO:

“LinkedIn is a pioneer in harnessing the power of social media and brands can benefit tremendously from participating in this networking of leading professionals.”

With LinkedIn vying for the attention of companies creating Pages for their companies, Facebook came back with a different approach: Bring the professional demographic from LinkedIn over to Facebook.  One month after announcing the new LI Company Pages enhancements, Facebook announced the arrival of its new personal profiles.  Not only does the new profile provide a professional headline summary for which LinkedIn has always had, it also gives you a chance to better show off your work experience by entering the various projects you have worked on and tagging the people that you worked together with.  The mass media immediately announced that Facebook was going after the professional demographic, and they are probably right.

In fact, Facebook already has the professional demographic because almost 40% of FB users in the United States are over 35 years old.  If half of LinkedIn’s users are from the United States, the calculations would show that Facebook and LinkedIn probably have almost the same number of professional members.  The problem is that with the professional demographic, LinkedIn is a closed and trusted place to network while many of the older generations who I know that are on Facebook don’t see it as a valuable use of their time.  If Facebook can get more people to use it in a more “professional” way, they can start to steal the mindshare away from the professional demographic, which will only lead to greater engagement and even higher advertising revenues for them.

While FB Pages still reign dominant over LI Company Pages for the time being, LinkedIn just last week announced new analytics for your Company Page which are similar to Facebook Insights as well as an Admin Panel similar to what Facebook has to allow for easy company management of the page.  This was accompanied by announcement of a new widget that can now be installed on any website to allow anyone to “Recommend” your products and services on LinkedIn from anywhere.

With Company Page functionality on the increase, LinkedIn is ready to unleash their next weapon for business onto Facebook: Public LI Groups.  The precursor for this was to open up LI Groups and make it easier to share content from the outside world into the professional networking platform via the new official LinkedIn Share Button, which can now be easily embedded into websites similar to Twitter’s ReTweet and the FB Share button.  This one-ups the FB Share button in that it allows you to share website content to your profile as well as directly to LI Groups.  Furthermore, realizing the problem that many FB Page administrators have with managing their Page efficiently, LinkedIn recently added a host of new Group moderation tools to allow for granular detail of who can post what that simply does not exist on Facebook.

The problem with LI Groups, though, is that they are private worlds: Unless you were a member of that Group you couldn’t see inside it.  The FB Page openness, and its associated potential SEO benefits, attracted companies to create their Pages and send more advertising revenue to Facebook.  But that is going to change with LinkedIn’s pending announcement that both existing Groups have an option to become public ones and that new public-only Groups can be created.  If your company has a FB Page, why wouldn’t you have a Public LI Group to have discussions with professionals and targeted consumers in addition to your LI Company Page?

More importantly, though, the engagement on LI Groups are significant in that there is plenty of room for discussion, not like the small status update boxes that are used on their rival platform.  Furthermore, LI Groups have the ability to send daily and weekly digests which FB Pages lack, which create even more engagement from Group members.  Sure, the largest Group, Linked:HR, has only 345,000+ members while the largest Page, Facebook’s own page, has more than 30,000,000 fans.  However, there are more than twice the number of Groups, almost 800,000 to be exact, compared to 320,000+ Pages.

When all Group Managers have the ability to go public, if only 1/2 of the present groups choose to do so they will soon be flooding the search engines with enough content to rival that of Facebook in due time.  More and more Group discussions will come up in long tail search results, which will bring more traffic to LI and higher membership numbers to Group owners.

LinkedIn has apparently come up with an extremely calculated and strategic plan to study the shortcomings of its mammoth competitor and create a platform that should be as welcome for business as it currently is for the professional.  Every social media marketer, especially those in B2B industries, needs to watch these developments closely going into 2011 and start to take the platform originally for professionals a little more seriously.

What will Zuckerberg’s next move be for business?  And what do you think of the above analysis?  Do you see the events any differently?

Join The Conversation

  • Oct 25 Posted 5 years ago Ahmed Alkhatib (not verified)

    Facebook recruiting is most useful to companies targeting younger job applicants who are less likely to engage with sites such as Linked In. The latter tends to serve well-established professionals who are usually in their mid to late thirties. Platforms such as www.employers.identified.com provide professional search capabilities to help recruiters in engaging Facebook users with relevant professional information.

  • Sep 9 Posted 5 years ago trulygood (not verified)

    i found this article searching for how many people are on linkedin, and also looking into linked in vs facebook for business.


    i see it is now a few years old, and wanted to note that HP's Facebook page now has over 665,000 fans, while their linkedin page has over 52,000 followers.


    i have been hearing of linkedin being the next big thing for businesses, but as a small business owner, i have yet to see any indication of that happening.  is it still in the works? am i missing something? what's the current outlook?

  • Apr 1 Posted 6 years ago Nathan Hutchings (not verified)

    Nice post.

    People often ask me which is the way to go FaceBook or LinkedIn, my response is "Think of LinkedIn as Facebook for suits". LinkedIn keeps you focused on career orientated things, your CV, what others are doing and talking about in your professional circle. Facebook is chit chat. That's my 2 cents worth....

  • Courtney Hunt's picture
    Jan 16 Posted 6 years ago Courtney Hunt

    I referenced this post in a recent Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) News Digest entitled, S.M.A.R.T. News: Growth and Growing Pains of Public Social Media Platforms. That post includes a link to a LinkedIn poll created by Mike Dwyer asking for people's opinions about using FB for business. Over 250 people have responded to the poll, and the results (and comments) so far are fascinating. The poll will be open through January 2011, and Mike and I are planning an SMinOrgs Blog post to share the results.

    Courtney Hunt - Founder, SMinOrgs Community

  • Courtney Hunt's picture
    Dec 19 Posted 6 years ago Courtney Hunt

    This piece was shared with the Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) Community by Constance Woodson. You've done a nice job of summarizing some of the key overlaps and distinctions between these two platforms, and raised good questions about what the future might hold for each. Several of the commenters have noted some of the thoughts I would have raised, such as the BtoB and BtoC distinction in the two platforms. Here are a few more ideas to build on theirs:

    1. I think privacy is a big issue for people. Though you distinguish LI as a closed network and FB as an open one, when it comes to personal information the opposite is - or should be! - true. The idea LI profile is open to the public and can provide a comprehensive and detailed summary of a person's professional credentials. The ideal FB profile, in my view, should be closed. I don't have the new profile (guess I haven't come up in the rotation yet), but I'm curious to know how easy it is to manage privacy settings when both personal and professional information is being shared.

    2. Though I recognize there may be a battle for budget dollars and other resources with respect to marketing and perhaps recruiting, ultimately we may find these platforms are complementary rather than competitive. They're certainly not mutually exclusive. Just as many individuals have worked out a balance in how they use each, so too will organizations. The choice of which platform to use, and how, should be driven by an organization's strategic goals and objectives, followed by an assessment of each platform's relative utility in meeting them. Though I don't think it would be wise for any organization to choose one platform over the other, each should define their investments based on the expected returns.

    Courtney Hunt - Founder, SMinOrgs Community

  • Dec 16 Posted 6 years ago LindaSmith

    This is a good discussion and "good discussion" is one of the reasons I like LinkedIn.  I have a personal profile on FB and a Page for my art business.  Over the past year I've evaluated the benefits of these platforms and my opinion that each is different.  Each has a different audience and you interact with them differently.  My business FB Page is still fairly new and I'm learning what is the best way to leverage it - my marketing instincts is that it is like have a online "flyer" tacked to a busy bulletin board in a popular coffee spot.  It's one way to reach one segment of audience.  I have discovered quite a few art-related groups on LinkedIn that provide value in their discussions.  This kind of depth of interaction just doesn't happen on FB.  Among my local artist friends the opinion is that their presence on LinkedIn gives them a more professional polish than FB; while their presence on FB gives them a way to let their audience [friends] know what's going on locally with their art: such as when and where an art event is going to be, that sort of thing.  Twitter seems like a giant, constantly updating highway billboard.

  • Dec 16 Posted 6 years ago SocialAddict (not verified)

    @ Neal

    Have you tried the BranchOut app on Facebook ? What's your view on it ?

  • Dec 16 Posted 6 years ago Lowell Christensen (not verified) I have found the entire LinkedIn platform cumbersome. A bit confusing and too cluttered. Your article is the first I am hearing about LinkedIn's new company pages (and will check it out, so thanks for that info). It seems that Facebook is just dominating all media attention now... with the movie 'The Social Network', Mark Zuckerberg appearing on 60 Minutes, and now on Time Magazine. Other than Google, I have never seen so much talk offline about an online company. But I agree, for professional connections, LinkedIn is strong. But as an online marketing I find many of the connections on LinkedIn to be irrelevant to what I am doing. Maybe it different for those in business whose primary focus is offline efforts.
  • Dec 15 Posted 6 years ago Richard Bergmann (not verified)

    I think that in terms of B2C Marketing Facebook Pages will remain the dominating standard, because of the numbers of users and the interactivity options Facebook already provides. It's about the thing with the "different hats" someone who logs in on Facebook is much more likely to do this as a leisure activity (even if he's dong it during work hours ;-)) someone who logs in on LinkedIn does that (likely) as part of his work (even if he's doing it during leisure time). In agree that LinkedIn might be very interesting in terms of B2B Marketing, for which facebook is not very useful at the moment.

  • Dec 15 Posted 6 years ago Julie Holmwood (not verified)

    Good points Neal

    I would say that for Facebook to become more in line with LinkedIn on the recruitment front would take a huge shift in the mindset and behaviour of the users. People put their best foot forward, so to speak, on LinkedIn. Facebook is much more about open communication with friends and family - that is the reason clients ask recruiters to screen candidates by checking their Facebook profile (although I understand that in some countries this is illegal)

    Also, to be effective as a recruitment tool it needs to have a keyword search function that pools all of the 'work info' details. At the moment you can go and check someone's info. I can't find a tool that allows you to search by it. For example: a recruiter could go to LinkedIn and keyword search; Marketing Manager, London, Telecommunications and create a shortlist of candidates that fall into that category. Facebook only allows you to search for a page or profile, so you would have to know that you wanted to check 'Joe Bloggs' for the inclusion of career info to be any use

    The world is constantly changing and of course, these things could be in the mix. But with technology moving at the rate it is, the adoption of more mobile platforms and the inclusion of video do you think FB will include all of the necessary fields and functionality to take on LinkedIn? Surely they will have some green fields to explore and new markets to create? They seem to me to be much more of the early adopter group than copycats!?

    From a company marketing perspective, in my mind at least, Facebook is great for B2C profiling. Hence the success of companies like Starbucks and the growing presence (in the UK) of people like Next and Sainsburys

    LinkedIn is more B2B

    I can see a good case for using both, but with different ad formats as they are different worlds

    But this is just my ex-Headhunter, ex-Advertising Exec heads speaking ;-)

    Julie Holmwood

    Lead Career Coach

    Churchill Brook


  • NealSchaffer's picture
    Dec 15 Posted 6 years ago NealSchaffer

    Thanks Austen.  I tried to be forward-looking rooted into what the trends in recent events might be hinting to us.

    Agree with you that these two sites are fundamentally different.  But if you had asked college students a few years ago what they would have done if their parents are grandparents were on Facebook, they probably would have bailed ship.  Same with if you had asked executives a few years ago what they would have done if LinkedIn became a mecca for the jobseeker, and they may have bailed ship as well. All of the social media monitoring software monitoring tweets might have scared off early adopters of Twitter for that matter.

    As we use these sites, we are finding new ways of leveraging them and they are being hijacked by users with different objectives from when they started.  That is why I believe that nothing is predictable in this world of truly social media ;-)


  • austenm's picture
    Dec 15 Posted 6 years ago austenm

    Great article Neal, I like forward-looking posts.

    It will definitely be interesting to see if Facebook can compete with LinkedIn, but in all honesty, I think LinkedIn has that sector covered, simply by having the depth in their platform. Obviously, FB has many times more members, but the demographic profiles are completely different. Users sign in to each of these with a different "hat" on, so to speak.

    Facebook can add as many buttons and job themed layers as they want—they've evidently had success with company pages—but I do not think FB will come close to matching LinkedIn's depth in terms of a user posting their resumé, professional profile, connections and sourcing jobs/contracts.

    If FB continues to compete with LinkedIn on the professional/job front, FB users will begin to question the brand, and look at the strange hat they are being forced to wear. :-)


  • Dec 14 Posted 6 years ago Peter du Toit (not verified)

    There is another option - Facebook acquires LinkedIn which is a distinct possibility.

  • NealSchaffer's picture
    Dec 14 Posted 6 years ago NealSchaffer

    Hi Julie,

    Yes, for recruiting, it is true that Facebook doesn't come close to LinkedIn.  However, with:

    1. Just as many professonials registered on Facebook as on LinkedIn according to my calculation
    2. The fact that recruiters are also screening potential candidates on Facebook and
    3. Facebook is now making it easier for recruiters to scan professional information on Facebook profiles

    it is easy to see how this might change.

    That being said, I was really concentrating on the fight for the marketing budget and the new business-related functionality released by LinkedIn.  For the moment LinkedIn will continue to rock the social recruiting world, but it will be interesting to see if Facebook starts expanding the battle to that front as well...

  • Dec 14 Posted 6 years ago admin (not verified)

    Posted this on our Facebook page Facebook

  • Dec 14 Posted 6 years ago Julie Holmwood (not verified)

    Interesting article Neal


    You didn't mention the recruitment aspect of LinkedIn. People post much more of their professional profile on LinkedIn.


    Over 80% of all recruitment is now done online and 95% of that 80% is done using LinkedIn.


    LinkedIn sell recruitment advertising space and large companies include LinkedIn training in their induction programmes for anyone that touches recruitment.


    It is also the favourite haunt of external recruiters, because of the ease of finding 'candidates'


    At the moment, nothing I have seen on FB comes close to this functionality


    Julie Holmwood

    Lead Career Coach

    Churchill Brook


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