Facebook vs. Instagram

You may already know that Facebook and Instagram are now fully integrated for advertising, but have you ever wondered which platform is best for your business? With continual updates to Instagram as an advertising platform, the platform has closed the gap between Instagram’s ad type availability when compared to that of those available on Facebook. But even as the platforms become more similar in their advertising offerings, the question remains, when is it best to choose Instagram over Facebook, or vice versa?

At Tiger Pistol, our philosophy is:

It’s often best to leverage both Facebook and Instagram, to get the widest reach. Facebook also recommends this approach to drive the most success for placement optimization; essentially, you’re giving Facebook the power to find the most relevant person within your target audience, on either platform, for the cheapest cost and estimated highest return. Plus, experience has shown that ads run on both platforms reinforce one another, and therefore yield better results overall – as in a15% increase in brand awareness!

The Case for Instagram

The wealth of targeting options across Facebook carry over to Instagram. However, the Instagram platform on it’s own has many unique advantages:

  1. It’s almost exclusively mobile. When was the last time you viewed Instagram via Instagram.com? Instagram was built for mobile users, and for a long time wasn’t even available on desktop. And since 80% of people now access social on mobile, it’s where your audience lives.
  2. It has high user engagement. According to Izideo, Instagram users are the most engaged on any social platform. Even more astounding, 80% of Instagram users follow at least one business, and 60% of userslearn about a product on the social network.1  Furthermore, a recent article in VentureBeat suggests that brands fare better on Instagram when it comes to engagement (it should be noted, however, that the article is referring to content posts only, not ads).
  3. It’s image centric. This one is probably obvious, but Instagram is, first and foremost, a visual platform. These qualities make Instagram a sound choice for any e-commerce business, or even local retailers, restaurants, and bars. Any business with products, especially ones that photograph well, are more likely to thrive using Instagram ads.

But what about Facebook?

Facebook offers an advantage in that it allows for users to have access to more information about the business without taking the user off the platform, instead directing them to a Facebook Business Page or providing more detail via the ad copy itself. Facebook continues to be the go-to platform for ads for more service-based industries such as law firms, or home services. Other benefits include:

  1. Facebook offers an expanded range of  ad types not available on Instagram, such as instant articles.
  2. It has a slightly older user base (more on this later!)
  3. It offers integrated messaging. Facebook has expanded options to use Messenger as a marketing and customer support tool.

Go Native

An important consideration when choosing between Facebook and Instagram when it comes to social media advertising is how well each platform displays ads. One key advantage that exists with Facebook and Instagram is that ads are placed where most people spend their time: their respective feeds. With both Facebook and Instagram, ads can appear as native content. Given the more limited creative options and focus on imagery, some might say Instagram has an edge because ads emulate the user-generated content already being shared to the platform. But if having your ads look more like native content is your primary concern, both platforms are flexible enough to allow you to do so.

Your Target Audience

One final consideration in deciding on which platform is best for your needs, is the user base itself. The demographics of each platform do differ slightly, as the latest demographic breakdown on Facebook from Pew Research shows:


Instagram skews a bit younger:


When it Comes Down to it…

Choosing between the two platforms doesn’t have to be difficult. Campaigns targeted to a more diverse customer base will mostly likely benefit from leveraging both platforms. At Tiger Pistol, we can publish to both Facebook and Instagram via our automation platform, so our campaigns work to reach the largest audience possible, dependent on the advertiser’s needs. But as indicated in the review above, each platform does offer some unique features of its own. Still, rather than second guess the largest, most influential social media platform in the world, the best choice may be to let Facebook do its magic and choose for you.

Ultimately, advertising on either platform – or both – is a wise business decision for nearly any business of any size. Give it a test drive, and if you need some expert advice, read the low cost, insanely easy way to get results with social advertising.

1 Facebook Partner Bootcamp, April 2017

Facebook vs. Instagram

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