LinkedIn used to be the only kid on the block as far as social media lead generation was concerned, but now 'Facebook for Business' is seen as a viable contender. Credit is due to Facebook for enormously improving its business and marketing services, including its paid advertising, search facility, company pages and video hosting. Does this mean LinkedIn has fallen behind? Of course not, but it does now present businesses with a choice of where to direct their social media resources and budget.
With limited time and budget available, businesses are sometimes faced with a choice whether to focus on LinkedIn or Facebook as a lead generation tool. This is understandable, as not much is achieved if you take on too much and end up spreading yourself too thinly. The litmus test is which social media platform yields the best ROI from lead generation.
This question isn’t as straightforward as it may first appear, so in this article we will present the lead generation tools for both LinkedIn and Facebook, and then suggest criteria by which you could start making a choice.
Lead Generation On Facebook
There is a quick way and a long way to gain qualified leads on Facebook. Both are useful and cost-effective and are normally used simultaneously:
1) Organic leads
The classic way of building leads on Facebook is to set up a company page and to start populating it with useful content. Prospects will find and like your page, so that your content appears in their news feed. If you correctly judge your content strategy, this will eventually result in qualified leads, either through Facebook itself or through a landing page connected with your published content. This strategy is a long game but is extremely effective at delivering results without costing very much. However, many businesses choose to speed the process along by combining organic lead building with paid advertising.
2) Facebook Ads
There are many different ways to use Facebook adverts, some of which we have covered in other blog posts. For rapid lead generation, log into your CRM and download a copy of your current leads or customer database in CSV format. You can now upload this list into your Facebook Ads tool, creating a ‘custom audience’ in place of the usual search criteria. Next, you highlight the leads and opt to ‘create a similar audience’ of new contacts with a comparable profile to the people on your list. This will give you a ‘lookalike audience’ of warm leads of the right buyer profile and the correct industry. You can now target these prospects with a Facebook advert offering an e-book, discount code, questionnaire or another incentive.
Lead Generation On LinkedIn
Lead generation on LinkedIn is less about creating and promoting content (although that has its place) and more about one-to-one relationship building. Similarly to Facebook, there are dozens of ways to generate leads on LinkedIn, but they all boil down to building connections. On Facebook you can’t simply send unsolicited friend requests to directors in your target companies! On LinkedIn members expect and welcome contacts from business prospects, so are more open to unsolicited responses, but there are still certain rules to follow.
The first step is to optimise your personal and business profile to ensure that you look like someone worth connecting with. Next, use LinkedIn’s search facility to look for appropriate connections. There are lots of different metrics you can use to search for individuals, companies or categories of prospect. The great thing about LinkedIn is that it shows connections in levels. For instance, you may not know Director X in person, but you may know somebody who knows somebody who does. LinkedIn can show you a relationship tree that enables you to build connections and recommendations that link you with valuable prospects.
You should also start getting involved with LinkedIn groups. At the end of 2016 there were more than 1.5 million active LinkedIn groups, so the chances are there will already be one appropriate your industry. If not, start one yourself. Search for appropriate groups based on the interests of your target customers, then get involved with the conversation.
This is the organic way of building leads on LinkedIn. It might sound complicated but it quickly builds momentum, and can often get you a list of qualified contacts quicker than you would be able to on Facebook. You can also use LinkedIn’s paid advertising features to promote specific services, boost your content or gain rapid exposure for your business.
How To Choose The Best Strategy
The ROI for any kind of social media marketing is potentially very high, because all the main platforms are free. You could in theory use either Facebook or LinkedIn to build a complete lead database without spending a penny. In practice, however, you will have to invest some resources to make your strategy successful. Organic lead generation strategies require a lot of time and effort to implement. Even if you don’t take out a single paid advert, it will still cost you money in terms of your employee’s time. The best ROIs usually come from a combined organic and paid advertising approach, with the assistance of a marketing agency to ease the pressure on your internal resources.
So, back to LinkedIn and Facebook: which one offers the best lead gen ROI? As we have seen, the approaches you take with both platforms are quite different. To exclude one or the other from your marketing strategy would be to deny yourself the unique qualities that platform brings. Both offer ways to reach out to different types of customer, or the same customer in different ways. The biggest factor, however, is where your target prospects currently hang out. If your target buyers are predominantly LinkedIn users, without much time for Facebook, then it makes sense for you to target most of your resources on LinkedIn. The opposite is also true.
The way to get the best ROI is to thoroughly understand your target market, how they use social media and what they seek to get out of both LinkedIn and Facebook. This will enable you to tailor your approach to both platforms; using appropriate content and gaining the maximum number of qualified leads from your marketing investment.