How to Find the Right Advertising Fit: Facebook vs. Instagram

mutesix logoPlanning a product launch and wondering how much of your limited budget to allocate to digital advertising?

We have no doubt of the answer: All.

When it comes to social advertising, not all platforms are created equal. The reality is traditional Facebook advertising still dominates many marketing budgets with its 2.3 billion users. Although Facebook and Instagram share many similar functionalities — interaction with friends, a real-time feed of visual content, not to mention the fact that both platforms are owned by the same company — there is often a widespread discussion about which one works best when it comes to helping brands connect with the right audiences.

For many businesses, the upside of advertising on both networks may be a net win if you grow your audiences, but the approach for each should not be copy and paste. Here are some of the key differences between the two to help you decide which platform is the way to go:

Select the Audience

Facebook is immense, but Instagram isn’t that far off; Instagram has over one billion monthly active users and is an increasingly attractive proposition for brands. In the time it takes you to read this article, nearly three million images will have been uploaded onto Facebook and more than half a million pictures carefully curated into little squares on Instagram.

Size is not the only differentiator. Age matters, too. While both platforms attract users ages 13 and up, Facebook’s audience skews much older than Instagram’s with 80% of global users over the age of 24, and a significant portion of which fall into the Gen-X and Baby Boomer generations. Although Instagram is only six years younger than its parent company, this age gap directly parallels to its user base, which is markedly younger than its predecessor. In fact, Instagram has grown as the ‘go-to’ choice for launching new brand campaigns looking to reach ages thirteen to thirty-four, who are creative, curious, and highly engaged who expect high-quality photo and video content. Younger generations are broadcasting their lives on Instagram with visual experience on mobile becoming the driving force.

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Decode the Services

The differences in message delivery can help to dictate the types of ads that your business may consider delivering. Facebook’s most prominent destination is called the newsfeed, which comprises a curated mix of news stories, advertisements, and activity from friends’ networks that are determined by Facebook’s ever-changing algorithms. Instagram has personality-minded content. While full of helpful information, the Facebook newsfeed is noticeably more complex than Instagram’s interface, which offers a streamlined scroll of visual content from users’ networks and advertisers. Instagram and Facebook both also provide “Stories” and the ability to “go live,” which are similar features, provide slightly different opportunities.

Figure Out Sharing

The “Stories” feature on Facebook and Instagram allows users to share video and photo content that live for 24 hours. Unlike the traditional feeds on Facebook and Instagram (that allow for content to live in perpetuity), users must actively select to view the Stories that have been queued up to be viewed.

As of today, the biggest benefit of Facebook Stories is that we see a lower number of users actively using them (compared to Instagram), which means that brands are in a position to get an early-adopter advantage. Another difference between the two platforms is that you can post photos and videos to a Group Story on Facebook, a collaborative feature that is not yet available on Instagram. With Group Stories, multiple users can contribute to a story that’s attached to a specific event page, giving businesses a competitive edge when it comes to engaging with their followers through user-generated content. While Instagram’s photo and video stories disappear after 24 hours, advertisers can feature highlights from their Instagram Stories on their business profile and keep a private archive of previous Stories.

When using the “Going Live” feature, the most obvious difference between the two is where the videos are displayed. When a user goes live on Facebook, the video appears within the newsfeed, however, on Instagram, these videos are intermixed with the stories. On Instagram, Stories can help expand your reach and capture more people in your posts because your story will appear right at the beginning when they choose to engage the feature.

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Select the Platform

The meteoritic rise of Instagram signals a shift towards a more visually engaged world. Both platforms will deliver on your ad spend, know this — nobody knows your business and your customer better than you. Use the power of digital on Facebook and Instagram to find new ways to create love and loyalty. And, don’t skip out on creating a checklist to highlight how to improve creativity for mobile-first engagement. A piece of advice: Capture attention quickly with engaging visuals, putting the brand front and center from the get-go.

With the majority of mobile users using their devices with the sound turned off, it’s also important to note that your creative tells a story without sound support. Play longer and deeper with your creative, testing and learning in order to evolve at the speed of the market. Regardless of which way you choose, understand that each one serves as a connection platform based around what matters most in the lives of your nextgen audience.

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