Beyond Facebook: Five Social Media Ad Platforms for B2B Marketers

Ask any marketer their first thought when someone says “social media advertising” and Facebook is bound to be the most popular response. That should be no surprise, as Facebook held 7.4% of all online ad revenue in 2013 ($3.17 billion) according to eMarketer, with that number expected to grow in 2014 . With a wide range of advertising options, and the announcement of Facebook video ads, 2014 looks to be another huge year for the site.

Let’s take a step back, however. eMarketer also reports we should expect to see a 27.2% worldwide growth for all social media ad spend in 2014. As companies look more towards social media to engage new and existing customers, it is important to understand what options are available for social advertising. Facebook share of ad revenues is not expected to exceed 10% of all revenue shares through 2015.

In this post, we will discuss five alternative social media advertising platforms for B2B marketers (other than Facebook) to look out for in 2014:


Twitter finally made the jump last year and offered their ad service to the public without the need for an invitation. With 232 million active users any given month, Twitter could be beneficial to any company looking to expand its social media presence.

Similar to Facebook, Twitter offers companies the ability to promote a tweet and target it towards keywords, interests or specific followers. The immediate goal of these ads are to get new followers, retweets, “favorites” and replies in order to build a company’s social community and get more exposure.


The strategic opportunity is to build more exposure and additional touch points with relevant interest groups and target audiences, as specific as individually defined Twitter users.

Last year, Twitter added a lead generation application to their platform, much to the excitement of marketers everywhere. Here is an example of what the tweet looks like:


Called a “Lead Generation Card”, marketers can now attach this application to any tweet that promotes an offer. By simply clicking a button, users can sign up for an offer, using their Twitter credentials, without filling out any information. This adds a whole new level to Twitter ads that advertisers should look to trying in 2014.


LinkedIn may be the forgotten advertising platform of the big social media players, with only a .5% ad revenue market share in 2013. With no signs of a big growth in this number for the future, companies may ask if the site is worth their advertising dollars.

The answer to that question is “yes, with the right strategy”. While LinkedIn isn’t for every company, there is definitely a specific market that can be tapped if a well thought out strategy is put in place. When planning to advertise on LinkedIn, it is important to understand that the site’s audience consists of business professionals who are looking to network.

Thanks to LinkedIn’s targeting options, companies are able to show their ads to the right business professionals. Beyond the normal targeting options, such as location, age and gender, LinkedIn takes it one step further and allows companies to advertise by company name, LinkedIn group, the user’s skills and even job title. This allows for some of the most precise targeting found on any social advertising platform.


B2B content marketers already realize the potential of LinkedIn for lead generation. According to response data from CMI’s B2B Content Marketing report, 62% of B2B marketers believe LinkedIn to be an effective social media platform, and it tops all social media investments at 91% penetration for audience use.

Industry publications and reports, helpful software and tools, and free white papers are all items that could entice business professionals. Sponsoring an update with an attractive offer, while targeting relevant decision makers, could lead to great brand exposure. With a smart strategy, LinkedIn can provide a doorway to gaining credibility within the business community.


StumbleUpon is a social discovery engine where users are sent to random websites, based on their interests, through the click of a button. The social platform is designed specifically for new content discovery based on interest. With StumbleUpon’s “Paid Discovery” program, 5% of all pages shown to users are now reserved for advertisers. This is a drastic difference compared to normal online advertisements, as users are sent directly to a website instead of clicking on an ad beforehand.

Because of this structure, a company’s focus should strictly be on the creation of a unique and eye-catching website. Companies only have a few seconds to make a favorable impression before their visitor moves on to the next site.  Here is an example of a Paid Discover ad, provided by StumbleUpon:


The ultimate goal is to have users to give the page a “thumbs up”, which can lead to repeat visits, along with more organic exposure on StumbleUpon.

While this type of exposure might seem trivial to more cost-conscious B2B marketers, keep in mind two factors.

  • First, as discussed in the recently covered ExactTarget State of Marketing report, brand awareness, thought leadership, and engagement are five of marketer’s top priorities in 2014.
  • Second, the 30 million users on StumbleUpon arguably influence a significant level of early adoption in content consumption, often believed to lead efforts in linking out and organically drive social sharing.

With the right content marketing strategy, StumbleUpon provides companies a unique opportunity to be discovered by new users.

Instagram & Pinterest

The social picture taking phenomenon, Instagram, and the photo sharing community, Pinterest, took their first steps into the world of advertising in 2013. While both are currently in a limited testing phase, the possibilities for the each platform are exciting to imagine.

Like other social platforms, the goal with Instagram ads and Pinterest “Promoted Pins” will be to expand a company’s social presence by having users “follow”, “like” and comment on their image ads. To achieve this goal, the image advertised needs to finds a balance between being recognizable and attention-grabbing. Companies need to know their audience and find appealing photos that are not only relevant to the user, but tie back into the brand. Levi’s, who is currently testing ads on Instagram, has an example of a great image ad:


In November, Levi’s ran a series of four ads for 9 days on Instagram in order to build brand awareness. Instagram reports that within that 9 day period, Levi’s ads reached 7.4 million people. More importantly, 24% of people who saw a Levi’s ad more than once were able to recall seeing it.  Even though this data is pretty broad, and the ads themselves had little competition, the preliminary numbers show a positive light on an important social advertising platform for the future.

We look forward to learning more about Instagram and Pinterest advertising, and the opportunities they will bring for advertisers, as they get closer to going public.

Final Thoughts

As B2B marketers seek to reach their target audiences in a range of social media platforms and communities, it is important to understand how advertising plays an important part in extending and augmenting this reach. While Facebook is the biggest social platform, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others are becoming just as important when considering specific interest groups and business objectives. Reaching users in multiple locations is essential in our busy world and advertising well thought out content on social media is necessary in order to stand out, differentiating brand communications and awareness.


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