When it comes to social media marketing, the debate of Facebook vs Instagram feels like it’s never-ending and each platform has different benefits that top the other. Facebook is all about networking and connecting with your friends, whereas Instagram adopts a ‘share your best moments with the world’ approach.
This then leaves many businesses asking the question of ‘Should I be using Facebook or Instagram?’ but the question they should really be asking is ‘How can I maximise each platform to its potential for my business’.
Before we start, let’s strip it back. Facebook has been around since 2004 and when Instagram started back in 2010, Mr Zuckerburg waited two years before making the move to buy Instagram for one billion dollars. Facebook and Instagram run as separate channels and serve different purposes. It is crucial for businesses to understand this when aligning their marketing goals and deciding on how to use each platform in their social media marketing strategy.
Yes, Facebook is the biggest social media platform and it is at an advantage in terms of the number of users and popularity, but Instagram’s only going to continue to grow and get better.
Facebook may look good from the outside, but Instagram’s numbers are pretty impressive and they are miles ahead of Facebook in terms of brand engagement. Statistics alone cannot give the full story, so let’s move forward on helping you settle the debate on how to use each platform effectively for your business.
Both Facebook and Instagram work differently for different audiences. When deciding on the best approach to each platform, a big consideration needs to be how their algorithms work.
As of this year, Facebook has been working to help business users better understand their algorithm. At the time of writing this post, Facebook’s algorithm is ranking the posts each user sees in order that they’re enjoying them, based on different ranking signals.
These ranking signals then act as data points about users past behaviour, and the behaviour of everyone on the platform for that matter. Which brings us to the three major categories of ranking signals:
Many businesses find it difficult to appear organically on News Feeds, that’s why it’s best to structure your content in a way that will get followers talking. Another tip is to post at a variety of different times and track when you get the most engagement, as this will show you when your audience is online. Being consistent with posts and also using video in posts will keep you ranking well in News Feeds.
Instagram works a bit differently to Facebook, their algorithm relies on the following three primary ranking signals:
Relationship: Just like all social media platforms, Instagram wants users to spend time on the app and the algorithm will automatically bump up posts on the news feed with brands the user already interacts with.
Interests: If users have liked and engaged with certain types of posts in the past, the algorithm is more likely to show them. For example, if someone is reacting more with a smaller, independent home furnishings business, they will be more likely to see similar content to that in the future.
Timeliness: Just like for Facebook, posting when your audience is online is crucial, as posts that are more recent will be pushed to the top of people’s feeds.
For both algorithms, it’s clear that engagement is key for all businesses breaking into the realms of social media. As a business, you have to be willing to join in with paying to play. Organic reach will be crippled when just starting out, so if you want to guarantee that you’re reaching your target audience and to find your feet in the world of social media, you may have to pay to do it.
Developing a well thought out social media strategy is going to be challenging, and another huge factor that needs to be given a significant amount of consideration is demographic data.
User demographic statistics for social networks are an essential piece of data for any marketer. The social space is constantly changing, so it’s beneficial to keep informed with statistics, revisit your decisions and tailor your content to the way your audience uses different platforms.
Facebook is the biggest social media platform without a doubt, but age has an effect on social media users. In the UK more than half of all pensionable UK adults are on Facebook, and the top age demographic is those users between 24-35. Gone are the days when Facebook was ‘only for the young’. You don’t need us to tell you this, but if you have a product specifically aimed at students, Facebook may not be the best platform to find them.
Instagram is known for its younger user base. When you look at demographic data, the larger group of active users are younger in age while in comparison, the older age ranges aren’t as active. The majority of users are under 30, this younger age demographic is likely to do with the younger consumers’ desire to be onto the next trend quickly. Instagram is the platform you need to be using if you’re looking to target a younger market.
We can't discount the older audience, because the advantage of being the more popular social media network for older consumers is that they have more disposable income. Depending on what your business is offering, this could be extremely advantageous.
A lot of this all boils down to each person using the site. Facebook places more emphasis on personal interactions as you’re sharing content with people you know. Instagram is all about discovery, less on interaction but because of this, their engagement rate is much higher. Millennials use Instagram to keep up with celebrities, trends, discovering new music, beauty and interior tips, the list goes on! This leads us onto our next consideration…
The top metric that Instagram has over Facebook is engagement. Around 40% of users on Facebook don’t like engaging with companies at all as they favour that intimacy element of Facebook. According to a social media study, brands see a median engagement rate of 0.09% per Facebook post, compared to 1.22% on Instagram.
The best part about Instagram is that it has some of the most highly engaged users. On average, users share more than 95 million photos and videos a day! With the posts yielding an average of 4.2 billion likes in a single day.
Despite all of this, don’t think you won’t always get more engagement on Instagram posts than Facebook, as there are many factors impacting how users interact with your business on socials. Instagram is all about the visuals, whereas Facebook is more about the text. As a marketer, you need to consider how your desired target audience uses each social media network.
Remember, no matter what platform you decide to use in your business, audience demographics and specific content type are key when publishing content to both platforms.
One of the biggest mistakes many businesses continue to make is treating Instagram just like Facebook. Content that rakes in the likes on Instagram, may not translate just as well on Facebook. Overcome this obstacle by testing different types of content to see which platform returns the best results.
The type of content your business is creating will depend on a number of things such as the industry you’re in, the brand itself and your target audience. Testimonials, blog posts and sharing e-books can work better on Facebook, whereas live streams, videos and photographs can work better on your Instagram account.
When developing a social media strategy for your business, keep in mind your audience and the type of content you want to publish and find a happy medium. It’s not all about which one is better and which one you should completely disregard, it’s all about how you can use each of these platforms to reach your target audience and develop brand awareness.
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