When it comes to social media marketing, Facebook is the big guy
on campus. As of June 2019, Facebook has grown to have
2.38 billion users, making it the top social media platform for
the total number of active users. Over the past decade, Facebook
has redefined the way we look at social networks and also expanded
the possibilities of social media for businesses.
Then there’s the new kid on the block, Instagram. In the world
of social networking sites, Instagram is still relatively new in
age. Founded in
2010, Instagram has seen massive success in growing its active
user base. As of June 2018, Instagram has grown to a whopping
billion monthly active users, positioning itself as one of the
fastest growing social media networks globally. This growth
shouldn’t come at a surprise. We are at a space where mobile
consumers spending more time browsing the web on mobile than
desktop on average.
With billions of active users, it’s clear that these social
networking sites are powerful and have a lot of opportunities for
your brand to engage with consumers. Even better, Facebook and
Instagram have been hard at work bridging the gap between user
bases. Since 2017, we have seen many improvements. Things like the
ability to have an
Instagram placement for a Facebook ad and allowing users to
share Instagram Stories directly to Facebook are just a handful of
ways these platforms have created moments of synergy for marketers
and users alike.
Although there are many new options for marketers to integrate
their marketing strategy, you can’t always apply the same
techniques you’d use for Facebook to Instagram and vice versa.
Due to this, we’ll take a look at some of the differences between
the two and help you decide where your brand should put their
Since Facebook is a lot older than Instagram, it’ll have some
Instagram’s growth has been extremely strong and it’s
continuing to climb. Let’s look at the numbers.
2.38 billion monthly active users
655 million monthly active users that are mobile only
65% of Facebook videos occur on mobile devices
40 million small businesses have Facebook Pages
of marketers say they use Facebook as part of their brand’s
billion monthly active users
500 million daily active Instagram Stories users worldwide
37% of US Internet users are on Instagram
60% of Instagram users log in daily
47% of Instagram users access the app on their phone and 53% on
of marketers say they use Instagram as part of their brand’s
As you can see, Facebook might have larger vanity numbers but
Instagram’s stats are very impressive—particularly in terms of
engagement. Instagram has built itself up as a platform that
thrives on users being able to engage with the visual content
On the other hand, those huge numbers from Facebook have made it
so that small
businesses feel obligated to start a Facebook Page even if they
don’t necessarily plan on being active on it. Facebook has
cemented itself as a staple in the social media marketing
Numbers alone don’t always tell the full story though. Let’s
dig a little deeper.
Facebook vs. Instagram: audience demographics
This is probably going to be one of the deciding factors for
which social media site you choose to put your focus toward.
Facebook has more total users but your customer
avatar might not be as active on the site as you might
One of the first differences that jumps out is Instagram’s
younger user base. According to the data, the older generation
really isn’t active on the app. A majority of Instagram users are
under 30, and many are in their teens. Part of the shift likely has
to do with the younger consumers’ desire to be onto the next
trend pretty quickly. We’re starting to see new social networks
pop up a lot quicker these days and the shiny object syndrome is
just too tempting. This difference in audience provides an
excellent opportunity for companies trying to reach a younger
Let’s not discount the older generation though. An advantage
of being a popular social network for older consumers is that the
users have higher incomes. Depending on what products or services
your company offers, this could be extremely advantageous. For
instance, an investment firm might have much more success on
Facebook than they would on Instagram.
Facebook vs Instagram: engagement in numbers
The top advantage that Instagram has over not only Facebook, but
every other social media channel, is engagement. A study on
social media engagement looked at over three million user
interactions with over 2,500 brands on seven social networking
sites. Six out of the seven social media sites including Facebook
and Twitter had less than a 0.1% engagement rate. The seventh
social network was Instagram, which had an astounding 4.21%
engagement rate. That’s 58 times the engagement rate of
Let’s look at a real life example of the engagement on
Facebook vs. Instagram. Here’s a post from Quest Nutrition that
was put on both its Facebook Page and Instagram account. Keep in
mind that Quest has 1.1 million Facebook Likes and 491,000
The Instagram post has over 2,400 likes compared to Facebook’s
21. On top of that, it also has 20 comments while the Facebook post
only has one. Even on a more popular post on Facebook, the
engagement from Instagram is still higher.
This post has over 500 Facebook Likes, which is great, but
compare that to the numbers the brand pulled in from Instagram.
Despite the example above, it is important to remember that you
won’t always get more engagement on Instagram posts than Facebook
ones. There are a variety of factors that go into how users
interact with you content on social media. For instance, images
perform better on Instagram than Facebook since that’s what
Instagram is primarily used for. Text, on the other hand, is better
left to Facebook most of the time. You have to consider how your
audience uses each social network. Which brings us to our next
One thing to keep in mind about Facebook is that the way content
appears in users’ feeds is based on algorithms. The Facebook
algorithm may be a secret science, but there are multiple
strategies that you can do to get more eyes on your posts. For
instance, you can always use Sprout’s ViralPost to
publish at peak periods to maximize your audience reach. Or, you
can also do it the old fashioned way by following our
2019 Best Times to Post guide and posting natively. Whatever
you decide, it is important to remember to take your audience
demographic, as well as your specific content type into
consideration when publishing content to both platforms.
This comparison would be incomplete without taking a look at how
each social network is used. We’ve established that Instagram is
strictly image/video based, but the differences go beyond that.
Facebook is largely informational. You can find out things about
a company through its Facebook Page whether it’s business hours,
an address or upcoming events. Facebook historical has always
focused on text because it’s detail driven. That’s why it takes
longer to create a profile on Facebook than it does on Instagram.
They serve different purposes.
Instagram is about capturing moments. People don’t open
Instagram to find out your company’s business hours or to see if
their friends have been to your store. They use Instagram to
engage. That’s what makes it so effective for building your brand
and gaining popularity.
When you go out to eat and the menu has 50 different entrees to
choose from, it takes you a lot longer to make a decision and to
take action. But when you go to a place that specializes in only a
few select dishes, you make your decision a lot quicker. Facebook
is like the restaurant with 50 different options. There’s so much
you can do from messaging to playing games and watching videos.
Facebook provides its users with hundreds of possibilities, and
there is truly something for everyone. Instagram is like the burger
place downtown that serves two things, burgers and fries. It
doesn’t give you an opportunity to get distracted and is
hyper-focused on a few core features.
When you launch the Instagram app, you’re immediately hit with
content. It provides a different user experience than Facebook
because it’s strictly focused on visual-based content.
It gives you multiple different ways of engaging with Stories
Users are primarily looking at images and/or videos as posts or
as Instagram Stories
Your Instagram activity is a bit trickier to follow than
Facebook, although both networks have a strong emphasis on account
Here’s a Facebook post on mobile.
You have the same abilities as Instagram to comment and share,
except Facebook provides a unique ability for users to give
specific reactions to posts instead of the usual “like”.
Which network is best for your brand?
As we discussed earlier, the type of content you publish on
Facebook or Instagram is also important. A big mistake that
companies make is treating Instagram like Facebook. Content that
works on Facebook doesn’t always translate well to Instagram. We
recommend testing your content on both Facebook and Instagram to
see which platform returns the best performance.
Facebook is a great platform to curate content. You’ve
probably noticed quite a bit of content shared on Facebook isn’t
original. It’s generally curated blog posts, news or content
that’s just being shared from other accounts.
Instagram, on the other hand, is all about original photos and
videos. Although you may run into a reshared meme or two while you
are scrolling through the app.
Your first stop for publishing company news should be Facebook.
Since Facebook is more text-based, you’ll have a better chance of
people reading the entire update. For instance, if you have to
close down for reconstruction you’d want to make a Facebook post
about it. Instagram is where you could post pictures of the
reconstruction in progress. See the difference?
Did your company host a charity event or go to a popular
conference? That’s the perfect opportunity to get content for
Instagram. You can post the images in real time to give your
followers a feel for how things are going.
When you get back from the event, you can create a Facebook
photo album with the best pictures.
Image contests are all about engagement, and we know that
Instagram is the king of engagement on social media. Use Instagram
as your platform to host the contest and
make a hashtag to keep track of it all.
You can promote the contest on Facebook to help push traffic to
your Instagram account. You might even consider running some
Any type of original photo that has to do with your company and
brand should go on Instagram. If you’re publishing content that
has a lot of text, then Facebook might be a better choice.
When it comes to creating, tracking and reporting paid social
campaigns, Facebook and Instagram have you covered. Tracking
your ROI is easy with Facebook and Instagram for Business, and
the synergy between the two platforms will give you with everything
you need to monitor success for paid ads.
For marketers looking to see organic AND paid campaign
performance altogether, Sprout has an easy to use reporting suite
that enables you to do both. The Sprout Social platform lets you
get a good overall view of
how your content is performing on Instagram, in addition to
Facebook. And there are a number of additional things you can do to
help get a better picture of the integrated impact both platforms
are having for your brand like
using UTM codes and shortened URL’s.
Facebook isn’t a replacement for Instagram and Instagram
can’t replace Facebook. You have to identify your audience, think
about the type of content you want to publish and then find a happy
medium. In the end, the question isn’t which social network is
better. The question you have to ask yourself is how can your
company use each one to reach your audience and grow your social
This post Instagram
vs Facebook: which is best for your brand’s strategy?
originally appeared on Sprout Social.
Read more: sproutsocial.com