When Facebook bought Instagram some people (Facebook users) were relieved and some (Instagram users) were seriously concerned. Why? Instagram was, and still is, an awesome mobile photography brand. Back in 2011 prior to the acquisition, Facebook’s mobile image upload function was less than satisfying. Developed initially as a desktop application, Facebook was where you went to find events and then share a batch of photos when you got home.

In contrast, Instagram was built for the mobile world. Even today, Instagram doesn’t really have a desktop upload feature. The acquisition allowed Facebook to rapidly improve their mobile experience and Facebook fans reaped the benefits.

The concern among Instagram users was whether Facebook would screw up their beloved network. While they have tinkered and added a few features, they have allowed the Instagram experience to evolve differently. The result is two related but very different social media platforms with different strengths, purposes and audiences.

These days all the cool kids are hanging out on Instagram. Attracting a younger, much more engaged audience, Instagram is like Facebook’s younger, much prettier sister. There are lots of celebrities, humor, and beautiful photos. There are also lots of brands.

Facebook vs Instagram – Which platform is right for your business?

Where should your business play? It depends on your market and your objectives. Here’s a quick comparison of Facebook vs Instagram to help you decide.

Demographics

  • Facebook has more users. With a generation of users who have grown up on Facebook the worldwide community tops more than 2 billion. While everyone has a Facebook account, we tend to see more activity among users 35 and older. This is the generation of users who were in college when Facebook launched. They have grown up with the platform and have a history of social interactions tied to Facebook. We also see their parents actively engaged, keeping up with their kids and grand-kids.
  • Conversely Instagram is the preferred network among users under the age of 35, with a high concentration among high school and college students.

So what are you selling? Plumbing services to suburban housewives? Then you should have a strong presence on Facebook. Fashion, entertainment, and novelty items which appeal to a younger consumer? Then say hello to Instagram

User Experience

The first part of the equation is clearly going where your customers are, but the next piece is how the user experience and rules of engagement will impact your strategy.

  • On Facebook, the algorithm controls what your community sees, with popular post  being served up again and again the timeline. To insure visibility for your posts you must engage your community getting them to like, share and comment on your content. this sends a signal to Facebook that users value your information and the algorithm will reward you by widening the distribution of your content. If you want to increase the odds that Facebook users will see your most relevant content as a businesses you need to have an advertising budget to boost popular content.
  • Instagram is a more egalitarian platform, where all content is displayed in the timeline. If you want to expand your reach, you need to expand your audience. The more followers, the morel likely your content will be seen.

Another part of the user experience is the hashtag. Completely irrelevant on Facebook, this is how people discover new content on Instagram. If you want to be successful you need to research the most relevant and popular hashtags for your industry.

Results Brand Awareness vs Leads

On Facebook, you can drive traffic to individual landing pages on your website. This makes Facebook the perfect tool to present offers and make direct sales. But Instagram asks business owners to play with one hand tied behind your back. Links in posts don’t work, only the link in your bio can go anywhere, so why bother? Brand building! Instagram is a great place to tell your story. While both platforms share the story feature, it is significantly more effective on Instagram as is the video channel.

If you want to get people excited about what you are doing then go to Instagram. Looking for more direct sales? Facebook is where you should play. Of course, when you pay to play with advertising you have the ability to drive traffic, but unless your ads are really engaging, users will pass you by

The Bottom Line

When it comes to evaluating Facebook vs Instagram, it isn’t an either/or situation. It depends on your target marketing and your objective and things will change. The platforms will continue to evolve and grow, and so will the users.

Want to stay on top of what’s happening in social media? Subscribe to our weekly podcast, More than a Few Words, for the latest on what’s happening in social media and other marketing topics.