In social advertising, where is your money better spent—on Twitter, or on Facebook?

Facebook allows for some useful targeting, with a variety of expressed and implied interests available as options for targeting its users, and it has worked hard to improve its ad platform since its IPO last year.

Still, although 85% of marketers polled at the beginning of 2013 by AdAge said they use Facebook as a marketing tactic, among them just 61.5% said they have used it for advertising. Facebook's Sponsored Stories ad product gets rave reviews from some, yet less than 30% have given it a shot.

Twitter, on the other hand, offers a variety of "Promoted" products—Tweets, Accounts, and Trends—and worked hard at improving its self-serve platform in the year prior to its broad rollout in April 2013. Yet, again, results are mixed, and it seems Twitter still has a ways to go as an advertising platform.

I recently did some research into Twitter and Facebook ads to see just how each measures up, comparing them in four categories:

  1. Network reach: Which platform reaches the largest audience?
  2. Ad performance: Do Facebook and Twitter ads drive real results?
  3. Mobile ad performance: Which social network owns the mobile space?
  4. Ad formats: Which offers the most varied and effective ad types?

What I found might surprise you. Although some are so passionately behind Facebook they'd have you believe it's the best thing since TV, the truth is actually that it's doing OK. Yes, I mean just OK; it's not going to save your business, but it doesn't seem a total waste, either, as Forrester might have you believe (its analyst's recent open letter to Mark Zuckerberg claims Facebook comes dead last on a satisfaction index of digital marketing channels).

There are areas in which Facebook is definitively beating out Twitter, such as Revenue per visitor. However, Twitter presents opportunities many aren't yet capitalizing on, simply because they haven't yet given it a chance.

Have a look at our key findings across four measurement categories.

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image of Larry Kim

Larry Kim is the founder and CEO of Facebook Messenger marketing platform MobileMonkey. He is also the founder of WordStream Inc.

LinkedIn: Larry Kim

Twitter: @larrykim