LinkedIn vs Facebook ad campaign: a case study

LinkedIn ads vs Facebook ads; know your goals and data. Ad illustration in 1874 book about the history of advertising (courtesy Internet Archive Book Images on Flickr Commons)
Know your goals and data. Ad illustration in 1874 book about the history of advertising (courtesy Internet Archive Book Images on Flickr Commons)


I’ve tried LinkedIn advertising a few times, mostly using the $50 freebie codes that they send via email. Most recently, I ran a $6 Facebook ad campaign at the same time, and thought you’d be interested in a quick comparison of the two.

Both campaigns were to boost visibility of the same Tourism Currents post, about downtown and Main Street social media marketing, in the News Feeds of our Facebook Page followers, and the feeds of tourism industry people on LinkedIn.

You can’t put a Sponsored (paid) post in the News Feeds of LinkedIn Company Page followers like you can for a Facebook Page. This is annoying, since those are precisely the people I’d like to reach, so in order to show the post to the likeliest industry prospects on LinkedIn, I chose members of various tourism-related LinkedIn Groups like the DMAI Convention and Visitors Bureau Network.

The Data: LinkedIn vs. Facebook

On LinkedIn….to put our Sponsored post in the LinkedIn News Feed of several pertinent LinkedIn Group members, for four days….

**  2,062 impressions

** 11 clicks on our blog post URL

**  2 “social actions” (one Like on the post, one new Tourism Currents Company Page follower)

**  Average Cost per Click or CPC  –  US$4.89

**  Total cost  –  US$53.78 (US$50.00 of that was free through a LinkedIn promo code)

On Facebook….to put our Sponsored post in the Facebook News Feed of our current Tourism Currents Facebook Page followers, for about three days, in the United States plus those in many other countries….the ad goal was to maximize engagement with the post (Likes, Comments, Shares, and clicks on the link itself.)

**  712 impressions (“reach”)  —  1,284 if you include organic, non-paid reach. We didn’t pay to boost the post until we’d let it run its course a bit organically, and could see that it was doing well with our Page followers.

**  45 post engagements, including 19 clicks on the post URL

**  Average Cost per Click or CPC  –  US$0.11 (yes, that’s 11 cents.)

**  Total cost  –  US$6.00

Worth noting: most of the interaction with the ad was on mobile devices, not desktop.

Which Ads Work Better, LinkedIn or Facebook?

The only way to know which one is best for you is to know your goals, know your budget, and review your data.

It’s a little early to get the complete picture from our website Google Analytics, but indications so far are that while the traffic to our site is higher from Facebook, the people who come to us from LinkedIn spend more time onsite.

“Sticky” traffic is more likely to learn more about us and consider purchasing, if they are the right audience to begin with.

Looking back over a full year, analytics (look under Acquisition) show that Facebook and Twitter send us more traffic than other social sites. LinkedIn is a distant third, but again, the people who come to us from LinkedIn stick around longer onsite.

Even more important to us is which social media sends us traffic that responds best to our two website conversion goals: email newsletter signups and looking at a page with details about our online course in social media for tourism.

The winner over the last 12 months is Twitter, both in raw numbers and in the conversion we value most – email newsletter signups. You can put monetary values on your goals, so we chose an arbitrary $5 value for looking at our Details page, and $10 value for a newsletter signup.

This tells us that maybe we need to experiment with Twitter ads!

Our runner-up for social media referral traffic is LinkedIn. In raw numbers, it’s tied with Facebook, but LinkedIn traffic converts better for us.

Does that mean it’s worth almost US$5.00 per click for LinkedIn ads?

At this point, no, not for us, but I’ll keep experimenting with those ad promo codes as long as they send them to me.

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About Sheila Scarborough

I'm a writer and speaker specializing in tourism, travel and social media. Co-founder of Tourism Currents (training in social media for tourism) and the Perceptive Travel Blog.
This entry was posted in Facebook, LinkedIn, Tourism Currents, Tourism Marketing on the Web, Web Communications and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to LinkedIn vs Facebook ad campaign: a case study

  1. Tim L. says:

    I had similar results with LinkedIn when I ran my $50 credit too, Sheila. It certainly didn’t convince me I should pony up my own money. Google CPC ads would have been far cheaper as I ended up paying more than $6 per click. On Facebook, as you showed, you can run a decent campaign for that amount, getting results day after day. I think you’ve got to be selling a super expensive product or service for the LinkedIn ads to make sense. Or be a recruiter.
    Tim L.´s last [post] ..A Few Minutes with Heather Cowper

  2. Agree, Tim. I’m sure the LinkedIn argument for such expensive ads is “quality audience,” but I don’t buy that until they get more people engaging on the site more often (not simply uploading their resume and only logging on when they are looking for a job.)

  3. Gregory Sun says:

    Thanks for the post, Sheila. In my own startup, I do not yet have the money to justify paying for advertisements. Do you have any suggestions for making the best of free services on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter for reaching people?


    • Hi Gregory, Start with some Googling – there are lots of blog posts about how to connect with your prospective customers on social media. Social Media Examiner, Convince and Convert, the Hubspot blog, and the Buffer blog are always full of good info.

      On Facebook, always respond to comments and shares on your Page. Make sure that you are posting engaging updates, usually with a compelling photo or graphic (look into Canva or PicMonkey for free graphic design help) at the times when your followers are most likely to be active. You can find that info in your Page Insights —> Posts in left sidebar —> When Your Fans Are Online. Note that activity patterns change for each day of the week. You are going to have to spend some money to really be effective on Facebook, but you can get a lot of mileage out of only US$5-10 per sponsored post or other type of campaign.

      On LinkedIn, make sure your personal profile and Company Page are fully completed, use keywords in your bio/profile summary/business description that are important to your marketing goals, and update regularly from both your personal profile and your Company Page. The power of LinkedIn is mostly in Groups, although they are experiencing some upheaval right now as LinkedIn tries to make them more interactive and less of a spam dump.

      On Twitter, do your hashtag research and use the ones most likely to reach your market. I’m a big fan of Twitter chats for professional development and for market research. Follow interesting people in your industry and the people who matter to your customers, use Twitter to stay on top of trends, share useful info, and respond when people tweet to you.

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