It’s no secret that over the past 10 years, social media has become a serious marketing powerhouse. But one particular aspect of social media marketing has actually been around since the internet became a household name. Now called Groups, the AOL chat room you used to know and love has evolved to become so much more - especially if you're looking to step up your B2B marketing game.
Groups on any platform enable business owners and marketers to connect, engage, and share content on a large scale. These days, two social media platform dominate groups above all others, especially when it comes to B2B marketing - LinkedIn and Facebook.
Both LinkedIn and Facebook offer group options with unique features and benefits - but which is the best to leverage for your business? When considering the number of active users, audience engagement, admin tools, or conversions one platform must reign supreme - or does it?
Category 1: Active Users
If active users alone were the determining factor in which social media platform is most worthy of your B2B marketing efforts, it would come as no surprise to hear that Facebook is your top choice.
Facebook is for everyone, while LinkedIn is for professionals - however the number of active users within Facebook Groups blows LinkedIn Groups right out of the water.
Facebook currently has 2.2 billion active users, and around a billion of them are active members of Facebook groups. By comparison, LinkedIn has 575 million total users - so even if every person who's ever created a LinkedIn profile logged in at the same time, that would still only be equal to almost just over half the active users of Facebook groups. And obviously, not all LinkedIn members also use groups.
Some argue that the quality of user varies from each platform - given that LinkedIn is 'the professional network', its users are more aligned with B2B marketing efforts. At the end of the day, however, even business professionals spend more time on Facebook than LinkedIn.
Score: Facebook 1, LinkedIn 0
Category 2: Group Engagement
Facebook is designed to facilitate personal connections, while LinkedIn is more focused on professional networking. Given this, it should be safe to assume that LinkedIn groups would be the most beneficial for B2B marketing and promotion - but that isn’t necessarily true, especially when examining the content shared within the groups and group visibility.
The most successful marketers today agree that sharing a compelling story will engage their audience in ways that sharing straight data never can. Unfortunately for LinkedIn Groups, this has proven to be a serious disadvantage when compared to Facebook. Within a LinkedIn group, members can post discussions, job listings, links, and can select an icon. Facebook group members however, can share photos, videos, create events, host live webinars, tag other members, check-in, and even share how they feel.
Even more limiting to the LinkedIn Group engagement factor is their poor group post visibility - while Facebook not only sends activity notifications to group members, and group posts directly to the News Feed, LinkedIn Group members can only view posts by manually seeking them out within the group itself. In other words, out of sight; out of mind.
Worth noting that LinkedIn is looking to improve these specific factors in a coming groups refresh, but as yet, they are still not available.
Score: Facebook 2, LinkedIn 0
Category 3: Group Administrative Tools
Finally, a category with some level playing ground.
As admin for your business group on either platform, you have the significant role of managing that group’s culture, as well as using the group to benefit your company. In this category, Facebook is actually the limited competitor when it comes to group member qualification, emailing your group, and providing group statistics.
LinkedIn Group admins have the ability to create an application for pending group members, while Facebook limits admins to just three, short questions. Once a member is added, LinkedIn admins are able to send group members messages and even emails. They’re also sent weekly and monthly digest emails, something Facebook definitely does not configure (note: this is also subject to change in the coming LinkedIn groups refresh).
Also, a LinkedIn group admin is limited only to the information members list on their public profile - if they search for it individually.
LinkedIn has leveled up its group option with their in-depth group statistics and analytics features. Group admins on LinkedIn can analyze and market to key demographics, company categories, job functions, titles, and more. Given these elements, in the Group Admin Category, the point definitely goes to LinkedIn.
Score: Facebook 2, LinkedIn 1
Category 4: Group Conversions
At the end of the marketing journey is the conversion. In order for your group to be successful for your business, it’s important to know what types of conversions to expect.
For example, in the US alone, 20% of all page views originate from Facebook. That number also coincides with an average 26% Facebook ad conversion rate, which is how Facebook is able to keep its CPC costs down to less than $2.00 for all types of businesses.
While the data on LinkedIn is less readily available, most advertisers say that their CPC is, on average, around $6.50. Additionally, most advertisers say that they experience around a 6% conversion rate from their LinkedIn ads. Ads on either platform can be run successfully within the niche specific group for an even larger boost to those conversion rates.
However, this round does have a clear winner and again that winner is Facebook.
Score: Facebook 3, LinkedIn 1
And The Ultimate B2B Marketing Showdown Winner Is?
While social media and groups have become a marketing powerhouse of their own, this showdown has one clear winner. While LinkedIn Groups have come a long way, they're still no match for what Facebook Groups can do for your business and B2B marketing conversions.
When comparing the number of active users, engagement opportunities, group administrative functions - and most importantly, conversions - Facebook Groups almost entirely swept the house. LinkedIn Groups do get credit for their email and group statistic tools for admins, however it’s just not enough to compete with the engagement power of Facebook... yet.
As both Facebook and LinkedIn continue to refine their group features, the benefits will just keep getting better and better. Time will tell, but today, Facebook is number one.