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LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter Ads: What’s the Best ROI?

It's clear that advisors should be advertising on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to reach more prospects, but which is best?

Facebook is the third most visited website in the world, with U.S. Facebook users spending 40 minutes per day on the platform — almost as much time as they spending eating and drinking. LinkedIn and Twitter are not far behind, with more than half of U.S. professionals actively using LinkedIn. With so much time spent on the “big three” social media platforms, it makes sense for advisors to advertise to prospects using LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter ads. But which is the most cost-effective? That all depends on who you are trying to reach with your social media strategy.

Facebook Ads

Of the big three social media platforms, Facebook has the most robust and complex advertising capabilities. While the targeting criteria are incredibly powerful, the platform may be overwhelming to beginner users. You can target based on age, gender, location, income, interests, keywords, activity, “liked pages,” and more.

A popular way to use Facebook to target is with their “lookalike audience” function. You can upload a list of an advisor’s current clients’ email addresses and Facebook will run an algorithm to “match” the group and advertise to users who are demographically similar.

Facebook ads can be relatively inexpensive, but they can also have lower conversions than the other two platforms. There’s a lot of competition and noise on Facebook, so you’ll want to make sure that your ads are accurately targeting your prospects and that your clicks are converting into actual leads.

One way to accurately target prospects on Facebook is by advertising to users who have liked a specific page. For example, an advisor that has a large anesthesiologist client base targeted the state association of anesthesiologists Facebook page, which is highly representative of his target market. Other advisors use interest based groups like the local country club page to target prospects.

If you can’t find a page where prospects have effectively self-selected, it may be tough to accurately target prospects on Facebook using the other filters. The “interests” and “income” filters to be inaccurate at times, especially when micro-targeting specific zip codes. You’ll also want to consider whether your target demographic is using Facebook actively, which tends to have a younger and more female user base.

Prices on Facebook ads can vary widely, so it’s important to test your ads with small budgets and make adjustments until your cost per click is profitable for you. A good rule of thumb is to get close to or below about $1 per click. For a recent $100 campaign, we achieved an ad exposure of 4,800 and 110 clicks for a cost per click of $0.91.

LinkedIn Ads

The major upside to LinkedIn ads is the accuracy with which you can target based on industry, job title, employer, or seniority level. From there, you can filter by location, gender, and interests. For financial advisors, the targeting is more powerful than both Facebook and Twitter. However, if the employer you are targeting is small, you may not be able to place an ad directly to their employees due to minimum audience restrictions.

If your ads are setup correctly, you can be sure that the people who see them are highly qualified prospects. However, you will pay significantly more per click on LinkedIn than you will on Facebook or Twitter. It’s important to understand that while the cost per click is higher, your conversion rate may be much higher too, since the ad viewers are highly qualified.

In one case, an advisor with a $100 campaign budget targeted women executives in her affluent suburb. Her ad received 30,000 impressions and 30 clicks, for a cost per click of $3.29. One of the people who clicked through to the advisor’s website sent a message about a recent inheritance and her desire to find an advisor to help manage this new wealth.

For LinkedIn ads, you can create “sponsored content” ads, which give more exposure to a selected LinkedIn update within a user’s timeline or you can create text ads, which reside in the advertising section at the top of your newsfeed. While the prices are similar for both ad sets, I tend to prefer text ads since they seem to stand out more. If your message is more complex, you’ll want to use a sponsored update to take advantage of the graphic and greater space offered.

Twitter Ads

Ads on Twitter are basically sponsored tweets, so they show up in a user’s newsfeed like a normal tweet. You only pay for actions, such as clicks through to your website, and you can set a max cost per click to make sure your ad is profitable. Targeting is a challenge though, because Twitter lacks the detailed demographic information that Facebook and LinkedIn have.

The easiest way to target on Twitter is with keywords. You could target your ad towards those with the keyword “engineer” in their profile and narrow by gender and location. You can also target users who have followed a specific user, so to reach financial advisors, I could target followers of @GuidevineFA.

Because there is less advertising demand on Twitter, prices tend to be lower than LinkedIn and competitive with Facebook. If you’re able to accurately target your prospects, Twitter ads could be a great option.

The Verdict

The trick to running social media ads is to consider the results of the campaign in its entirety, not just the cost per click. Be sure that you give users an easy action to take, such as downloading a report or scheduling an online meeting. Then, make sure your website is tracking “conversions” and where they came from.

Overall, Facebook tends to have lower costs per click, but less qualified traffic. LinkedIn has higher costs per click, but much more qualified audiences. Twitter can be a low cost and highly targeted option, if you are able to select appropriate filters for your demographic.

When running social media ads, start by testing campaigns of $50, then adjusting to get a cost per click of less than $1 on Facebook and Twitter, and less than $4 on LinkedIn. Be sure to track website traffic and conversions using Google analytics so you can determine what the resulting traffic is doing on your site. Once you’ve created a campaign that performs and converts well, increase your budget to drive more traffic to your site.

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