Home SMM Comparing Strategies: Facebook vs. Instagram for Small Businesses

Comparing Strategies: Facebook vs. Instagram for Small Businesses

by Sandra Iakovleva

Before we start, it’s worth noting that Facebook owns Instagram. Now, this might make some marketers look at the platforms as one entity but that is far from the truth. Strategies differ depending on your goals and we’re here to unravel where you should invest your efforts (and money).

When you’re a small business, budget is a big concern. How do you find the golden middle to tackle your marketing goals on both platforms? Seems like there are some decisions that are to be made on where to focus your energy.

Bottom line of our short introduction is that Facebook and Instagram are as for business different as can be. They share some features in common, but both have their own strengths and weaknesses if we’re talking about marketing. What works on Facebook will not work for Instagram growth and vice versa.

The question is, do you tailor separate marketing strategy for the two platforms, or complementary ones for each? Let’s find out.

Statistics to kick off the debate

Facebook user statistics

  • 1.32 billion daily active users
  • 2.01 billion monthly active users
  • 655 million mobile-only active monthly users
  • 40 million small businesses have their own Facebook page

Instagram stats

Based on statistics, Facebook has the higher numbers but Instagram stands out based on engagement and content sharing. It’s safe to say that Facebook influences a much larger network, but the following on Instagram is equally impressive.

We can also conclude that the platforms work in different ways depending on a business. For instance, if your business depends on visuals, Instagram can fuel your influence and Facebook would be more beneficial for other means of spreading the word.

Here’s what you can count on with Facebook:

There is a mass appeal to Facebook. It’s a platform that allows people to truly connect to friends and family. The number of users on a daily basis is about 4 times higher than the users on Instagram.

You can be sure about one thing, potential clients definitely spend a lot of time on Facebook. Because it is more heavily weighed as a platform to connect, promoting products and advertising might not be as effective. People are on Facebook to stay in touch and keep up with news.

1. Reach

In terms of reach, Facebook doesn’t have competition. In the data below, Dreamgrow estimates 1.94 billion monthly active users. In terms of visibility, Facebook is a clear winner.

Dreamgrow

2. Engagement

Instagram is a definite competitor when it comes to engagement. Facebook still has the second highest engagement rate between all the social networks. Here’s a little study by Salesforce that tracked 2.4 million Facebook posts to gain insights about engagement by industries.

Salesforce

3. Demographic

Pewinternet introduced this table, showing the demographics of the channel. The difference isn’t too significant, with 77% female and 66% male audience. It also concludes that Facebook is effective for reaching all age groups.

Pew Research

4. Paid ads

Facebook ads are extremely effective, in fact the ad revenue is about $6.82 billion in 2016. This number has only gone up since 2015 (by about 59%). Social Flow concluded that each user is worth about $14 in annual ad revenue.

And what you can count on with Instagram:

You know what they say – an image is worth a thousand words. This puts Instagram ahead of other platforms. It’s a place of a few words, but the images are worth much more. Aesthetics dictate who stays ahead of the game. It’s also a place of inspiration and a good place to reach out to potential clients.

As Instagram is focused on visuals, it’s much easier to showcase products and services without throwing users off. It’s quick, accessible and very visual. For a small business that has a lot to share, it’s the ideal platform to reach out to clients.

1. Reach

Although Instagram has less monthly active users, the platform has a really impressive global reach. It’s an ideal platform to boost visibility and do it in a way that provokes responses and engagement on a platform that focuses on visuals.

Instagram Press Page

2. Engagement

According to Locowise, Instagram has the highest audience engagement compared to all the other social platforms. This is a valuable tool for marketers. Every day, users share over 95 million photos and videos and those posts result in over 4.2 billion likes every single day.

Locowise

3. Traffic engagement

Here, you can see a comparison of all the social media platforms in terms of traffic engagement. As a conclusion by Yotpo, Instagram users spend 45% more time on the app that on Facebook.

Yotpo

4. Demographic

Demographics might just be the tipping point of your decisionmaking, and we’ll look closer at the two demographics in a bit. For now, you can compare the basics to Facebook. Pew Research concluded that there are more female users as there are male users on Instagram.  

Pew Research

Comparing strategies

We’ve looked at some general differences between the two platforms, and general strategies might help you get the picture of the marketing efforts you would have to implement for both.

There are some things that overlap in terms of strategies for Facebook and Instagram. For instance, you must first set concrete goals for your chosen platform and answer basic questions about what you hope to achieve.

You can study your own demographics on Facebook – this is the information available in your Analytics page. With Instagram, you need to switch to a Business account to have access to similar analytics. For a small business, it is advisable to switch to a business account for those reasons. You will get unique insights into your audience and be able to better tailor your strategy.

With a business account on Instagram, and your company page on Facebook, you can create ads and with that come up with your own strategy. The biggest difference in making a choice between Facebook and Instagram efforts is the types of posts you will be able to make and the target audience you’re trying to reach.

You can also launch ads on Instagram through Power Editor or the Ads Manager on Facebook. For this, you do not need an Instagram account. Find out more about creating Instagram ads through Facebook here.

Comparing audiences

Another decisive factor in choosing which platform to invest more time in, is your preferred target audience, age group and income. When we look at the two platforms in general, here are the key differences:

Sproutsocial

Sproutsocial

Based on demographics, you have to determine who you would like to have as your target audience. If you’re promoting travels, beauty products or something related to fashion, Instagram is the perfect platform to blend in with the trendy and high demand market.

Facebook, on the other hand is a little more universal. It fits any category but needs a more tailored and strategic approach. You have to submerse yourself in ad campaigns if you want to reach out to a much larger audience.

Choosing a tool fit for the job

The bottom line is that it really depends on your line of work and what you’d like to achieve. What is the nature of your business? Do you have the visual content that will inspire a following? If your brand can find a way to be more visual, by all means target Instagram followers.

Any small business that organically fits Instagram and the type of content that is currently trendy should invest all their efforts in Instagram. If your business doesn’t fit into this frame, don’t spend your time and energy on the platform.

If your strategy is a little different, and you’re looking for versatility (images, text, updates, ads), Facebook is your savior. It’s a platform that allows you to work with different mediums and that’s perhaps the biggest advantage for marketers. The difference between Facebook and Instagram is that Facebook is most often accessed on a desktop while Instagram is an app that’s mostly used on mobile phones. This too, can be a decisive factor.

If your business can’t find a creative, visual edge to market your business, it’s best to put your efforts into a blog and post useful insights on Facebook, positioning yourself as experts and gaining a loyal following in the process. As long as you understand the demographics of both platforms, you can begin to shape your marketing plan accordingly.

You should also consider your short term and long term goals. Instagram is more for products that can be impulsively bought. Potential clients can follow the link from your ad and buy your product right away. Although the same is possible with Facebook, it’s more often used for long term goals of acquiring an audience and then converting them to clients.

The data we’ve looked at really shows you that there are two very different audiences and distinct perks to both Facebook and Instagram. Two factors will determine what’s best for your business – the nature of your business and the demographics of the two platforms.

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