Over the past decade, social media has seen unprecedented growth, with networks like Facebook and Instagram leading the race in social media dominance.
As a marketer, you may be faced with the question of whether one is better than the other, or if it’s better for your social media marketing to use them in tandem.
Both platforms can be used successfully as part of a social media marketing campaign. But, you first need to understand the important differences between the platforms in order to adjust your content appropriately for each.
Read on to discover the 7 differences between Instagram and Facebook posts that are important for social media marketers to know, and how these different features can help you generate distinct but intersecting marketing campaigns.
1. Differences in Key Statistics
The first thing we’re going to look at with regard to the difference between Instagram and Facebook is the statistics of each platform.
- 2.85 billion monthly active users as of March 2021
- 96% of users use mobile devices to access their accounts
- There are over 4 billion ad and video watches on Facebook each day
- There are over 65 million promotional pages for small businesses on Facebook
- 89% of marketers use the platform as a core part of their marketing strategy
- As of 2021, Instagram has over 1 billion monthly active users
- Over 500 million people use Instagram stories daily
- 60% of active users access Instagram on their mobile devices
- There are over 200 million businesses currently on Instagram
- 65% of marketers use the platform as part of their social media strategy
When looking at the numbers, Facebook has an advantage over Instagram. That’s largely due to its huge head start, but it’s clear to see that Instagram is growing at a phenomenal pace.
Facebook is the staple in today’s social media marketing world, but Instagram is fast closing the gap and may soon match the social giant’s competitive edge.
The image below showcases a few more of the differences between the two popular social media platforms.
Facebook and Instagram Differences at a Glance:
2. Differences in the Purposes of the Platforms
Another core difference between Facebook and Instagram lies in the purpose of each platform.
Facebook is a general social networking platform with a close-knit community of people who know each other.
The California-based platform has been at the forefront of the social networking arena for years and has evolved from being a simple online networking website to becoming the most popular social networking powerhouse.
Facebook’s official stated purpose is: “To make the world more open and connected.”
People use the platform to stay connected with their family and friends, discover what’s happening around the world, share news, and express opinions on topics that matter to them.
There are also tons of services, products, and tools provided by the giant network to help marketers and business owners build, grow, and monetize their businesses.
The purpose of Instagram is: “To offer a premium visual platform.”
Unlike Facebook, which relies on text and pictures, this platform is designed to allow users to easily share photos and videos with their audience.
Instagram is a mobile-centric photo-sharing app that lets you create and join communities of like-minded people who share common interests.
There are relatively fewer active monthly users on this platform compared to Facebook, and it’s best optimized for mobile, which makes it more effective for creating brand awareness than Facebook.
It’s a great platform to connect family and friends, and also perfect for businesses, marketers, and influencers looking to tell their stories and run visual marketing campaigns.
Each of these platforms can be used in a marketing or sales funnel, it just depends how your brand wants to position itself on the platform.
3. Differences in the Type of Content Shared
Another difference between Facebook and Instagram has to do with the type of content intended to be shared on each platform.
Let’s look at this in more detail, including the content style, restrictions on the type of content that can be posted, as well as the restrictions on the length of text, images, and videos shared.
- Facebook: Facebook’s content style is vastly different. It’s more text-based compared to Instagram, a platform that feeds off visuals.
- Instagram: Instagram’s content style is visual-based, making the platform an ideal destination for lifestyle, beauty, fashion, health, fitness, and travel.
- Facebook: Facebook is a platform that lends itself to entertaining content that can be shared and discussed easily. It’s also a great platform for curating content, as long as it stays within the platform’s guidelines which prohibit nudity, sexually suggestive content, hate speech, excessive violence, credible threats, etc.
- Instagram: On Instagram, the rules are pretty much the same. Content restrictions include profanity, inappropriate imagery, illegal content, graphic violence, hate speech, attacks, or abuse based on sex, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, disease, disability, etc.
- Facebook: The ideal length and size of text, videos, and images on Facebook are different from Instagram. For instance, you can add up to 63,200 characters in a post, while Instagram only allows 2,200.
- Instagram: The length of posts on Instagram tends to run on the short side, with captions averaging 138-150 characters. You can add up to 30 hashtags to your post.
Before determining what platform is the right choice for your organization, it’s best to use tactics like environmental scanning on your organization to determine which platform is most fitting.
4. Differences in Engagement Numbers
As previously mentioned, the one area where Instagram gives Facebook a run for its money is in audience engagement.
While Facebook holds the larger vanity numbers, Instagram is showing impressive stats in this area.
The platform thrives on users having the ability to engage with the visual content shared by other individuals and brands.
Facebook may have the scope, but Instagram has the volume.
Facebook is a general social networking platform that is the potential to help you reach a larger audience through several methods of interaction, including:
- Feed ads
- Right-hand side ads
- Business pages
- Chat function
But, although Facebook is better at distributing information, Instagram is a mobile-centric photo-sharing app that makes it easier to create brand awareness and boost engagement with carousel posts, images, and videos.
Keep in mind that if you run ads on either of these platforms, these will be variable expenses that will have to be managed closely as the cost can quickly rise if unchecked.
As evidenced by the image below, engagement remains far higher on Instagram than it is on Facebook – even though the platform has a smaller audience than its parent company.
Instagram posts have a median engagement rate of 1.16% compared to Facebook’s 0.27%. The data shows a huge difference between the two platforms for campaign benchmarking.
Also, Instagram users are a lot more generous with their likes and they spend significantly longer periods of time on company pages once they find their way there.
However, despite the example outlined above, it’s important to keep in mind that you will not always get high engagement on Instagram posts compared to Facebook.
That’s because there is a multitude of factors that influence how users interact with your content on the respective social media platforms.
For example, you may find that while images perform better on Instagram than on Facebook (since this is what the platform is primarily used for), text posts perform better on Facebook most of the time.
Side note; if you can’t seem to make images performs well on either platform, it may be time to consider a top-tier graphic design software to help.
The key is to consider how your target audience makes use of each social network before making the decision on where to post what type of content.
5. Differences in the Use and Importance of Hashtags
Hashtags are effective on both platforms. Although primarily associated with Twitter and Instagram, it’s advisable for businesses and marketers to use them on Facebook, as well.
Hashtags on Facebook:
Facebook and Instagram use fairly similar algorithms to track distinct URLs with hashtags.
As a social media marketer, you can use hashtags on the platform to make your posts searchable and point people to the conversation and encourage more users to use the hashtag in creating more relevant discussions.
Ideally, you want to use between 2 to 3 hashtags on each Facebook post. Try not to overdo it, otherwise, your post will look like a wall of hashtags that eclipses your copy.
Here is a great example of Facebook hashtags in action:
Hashtags on Instagram:
Instagram is a whole different story with regards to hashtags. In contrast to Facebook, you should go heavy on hashtags to make your posts more interactive.
Since you can’t directly target groups of users on Instagram, hashtags offer the next best solution.
All you have to do is list all the relevant hashtags that will allow your posts to be seen by your target audience.
You can include up to 30 hashtags in the description (although the ideal number is between 5 and 10). And, if necessary, you can add even more hashtags in a comment on your own post.
According to a recent study, engagement rates begin to drop once you go above 10 hashtags per post.
Although a lot of high-profile brands don’t need to use hashtags anymore, many new businesses stand to benefit by leveraging the power of hashtags to reach all types of audiences.
6. Differences in the Types of Audience
When it comes to audience demographics, there is a noticeable difference between the two platforms.
When creating a social media strategy, it’s important to take this demographic data into consideration so you can make your planning easier and more effective.
Here is a more in-depth look at the demographics of each platform according to research from Khoros:
- Number of Active Users: One of the main differences is in the number of people actively using each platform. Facebook is older than Instagram, so it’s not surprising that it has almost twice as many active users as its counterpart.
- User Base Age: Yet another difference in the demographics of the two platforms is that Instagram has a much younger user base compared to Facebook, with the majority of Instagram users being under 30 years of age, and many still in their teens.
- User Base Income: According to recent studies, 86% of households with an income of over $100,000 use Facebook, while only 60% of households with the same annual income use Instagram.
- User Base Gender: 54% of Facebook users are female and 46% are male. Instagram has similar demographics, with 51% of its users being female and 49% male.
- Time Spent on Platform: On average, Facebook’s 1.88 billion daily active users spend 35 minutes on the platform each day. Instagram’s 500 million daily active users spend, on average, 53 minutes per day on the platform.
The bottom line is that each platform has a lot to offer, but they serve different purposes. One may be better than the other depending on your target audience and your goals.
The difference in audience demographics offers certain companies an excellent opportunity to reach younger customers who desire to jump onto the next big trend pretty quickly.
There are also opportunities for companies that want to reach older consumers with higher incomes.
So, depending on your type of product or service, one platform may prove more advantageous than the other.
For example, a makeup company might have more success on Instagram while an investment firm will likely experience better results on Facebook.
Regardless of the platform you choose, make sure that you have a call to action that has a return on investment. For instance, in either the makeup company or the investment firm, getting people to sign up for a list so that you can perform email marketing is crucial.
While the payoff for this activity isn’t immediate, it allows the brand to build a personal relationship.
7. Features and Functionality
This comparison between Facebook and Instagram wouldn’t be incomplete if we didn’t take a look at the way each social platform is used.
We have already established that Facebook is more text-based while Instagram is strictly image/video-based.
However, the differences in features and functionality go way beyond that.
- Facebook is mainly used on all devices while Instagram is all about mobile users.
- Facebook uses the messenger app while Instagram has direct message (DM) built-in.
Also, Facebook is largely informational and detail-driven. For instance, users will go to your company page to find out things such as your address, business hours, upcoming events, etc.
Instagram, on the other hand, is all about capturing moments. People use it to engage, which is why it’s so effective for building brand awareness.
I hope this article has made it clear which platform to invest in for better ROI (return on investment). Either one will serve you well, depending on your goals.
But, rather than putting all your eggs in one basket, why not opt for the dual strategy and use both platforms successfully as part of your social media marketing campaign?
By using both Facebook and Instagram simultaneously, you will be able to play to each platform’s individual strengths and supercharge your social media marketing campaigns.
So what do you think – Is Facebook better than Instagram for marketing? Or is it the other way around? Share your opinion below!
About the author:
Ron Stefanski is a website entrepreneur and marketing professor who has a passion for helping people create and market their own online business. You can learn more from him by visiting OneHourProfessor.com