Was Facebook preparing to create a successor back in 2021 when they bought Instagram? At the time, the billion-dollar purchase was a bold move, and many have criticized Facebook for spending so much money on a tiny photos app run by just 13 employees. Nobody is now questioning this step. While no exact numbers are known, rough estimates put Instagram’s current value at around $102 billion — 10 times the acquisition cost.
Instagram can’t keep up with Facebook’s massive user base. Instagram’s 800 million monthly users may have made it the third most popular social platform, but it’s still a far cry from Facebook’s 2 billion monthly users. So why not put all your money into digital marketing on Facebook and reach twice as many people? The answer is simple: it’s not about quantity. As we’ll explain below, it’s about quality.
Additionally, digital brands targeting younger audiences (<30 years old) may get more bang for their buck on Instagram. This is especially true in visual industries like fashion, beauty, or even architecture. Later we explain how to change your strategies to get the most out of both platforms. But first, let’s take a look at how a smaller channel can make more giant waves. It’s all about DNA, another word for algorithms on social media.
Instagram Vs. Facebook: The Algorithms
Long story short, it’s not about your visibility per se. It’s more about getting the right people to see you. Getting back to basics, a social media feed’s algorithm refers to the actual code that determines which posts are seen by which users and in what order. Long gone are the days of chronological meals, where posts appear in the order in which they were published – thank goodness, We have to say, considering that this organizational structure isn’t efficient when you’re following hundreds of accounts.
Social media uses algorithms to give you a better experience where you see more posts you like and less of the unimportant stuff like your aunt’s weird posts. But don’t pat these channels on the back for their altruism — the algorithm also gives them more control over their advertising.
As you can imagine, this isn’t an exact science, so every social media channel has to do a bit of guesswork when setting the proper criteria for ranking their feed. This is the difference between marketing on Facebook and marketing on Instagram. So what makes Instagram’s algorithm better for marketing? The actual algorithm is top secret. These factors determine the rank of an individual post (which is not an ad).
- Engagement. How many hearts and comments does the post have?
- Relevance. Are the topics most relevant to the user?
- Relationships Posts from accounts that the user interacts with more often and rank higher.
- Timeliness. More recent posts rank higher.
- Profile searches. Posts from accounts that the user regularly searches for rank higher.
- Direct shares Posts from accounts that the user shares with others rank higher, and posts from the person receiving the shared posts rank higher.
- The time they spent looking at the position (without scrolling).
Facebook’s New Algorithm
- Friends and family. Posts from people who know the user personally rank higher. This is important because it means posts from brands will be shelved.
- Engagement. How many likes, comments, and shares a post gets, including time.
- Emotional commitment. Posts that are likely to lead to a conversation rank higher.
- Pictures and videos. Images rank higher and text-only posts rank lower.
- Click baits are demoted. Posts that aggressively beg for likes, shares, comments, votes, or tags rank lower.
- Promotional posts will be downgraded. Posts that urge people to buy a product/service or enter a contest will be demoted. In addition, Facebook matches text with known ads and downgrades unofficial ads.
The update’s goal was to prevent fake news by encouraging more personal conversations. But the result is that brands and public content are less visible. It seems like a diplomatic strategy for Facebook to split its two channels. By minimizing third-party presence on Facebook, it’s returning to its more personal, social roots with friends and family while boosting its advertising business (it’s no harder for brand posts to get seen for free). You can still promote your brand on Instagram for free, even with better results, as long as the content is good.
Instagram Vs. Facebook: Marketing Impact
Now that we’ve gone behind the scenes let’s look at what’s happening on stage. To put it simply, Instagram is better for direct marketing: interacting with customers, raising awareness, showing new products/services, comparing offers, and influencer marketing. In addition, Instagram is the leading company among the under-30s, especially teenagers.
On the other hand, Facebook remains the better way to get noticed by older groups as long as you rely on paid advertising. It’s also worth noting that Facebook makes it easier to direct people to a third-party site like an online store. Instagram prohibits sharing links in posts and comments. Any links pointing to another location will only appear in your bio; the extra steps it takes to get your site visited will make it harder to generate traffic.
A lot depends on why a person is using the page. Facebook focuses more on personal interactions and sharing content with people you know. 40% of Facebook users dislike interacting with companies and prefer familiar connections. Instagram, however, is more about discovering and observing and less about interacting — although ironically, their engagement rate is much higher.
Especially among millennials, Instagram is seen as a source of style, an ideal place to learn about new trends and discover contemporary artists, as well as keep up with their favorite stars. As you can see in the chart below, Instagram dominates in industries like fashion, beauty, interior design, architecture, photography, and celebrity news. This makes Instagram better for influencer marketing and free exposure; users on Instagram are more likely to actively check for product recommendations than Facebook, where they actively ignore them.
Another advantage of Instagram is customer interaction. a Facebook engagement rate of 0.7%, far behind Instagram’s 4.21%. Only 32% of Facebook users regularly interact with brands, compared to 68% of Instagram users. They find that brands have 58% more engagement per follower on Instagram than Facebook. A lot has to do with the fact that Facebook users don’t even see the posts due to the algorithm. Posts from brands on Instagram reach 100% of the target audience, while on Facebook, that number drops dramatically to 6%.
Maybe it’s the mentality of users, the limitations Facebook’s new algorithm puts on brands, or simply the culture of each platform. Either way, Instagram is the winner when engaging with customers. We must also not forget the presence or absence of competition. Marketer presence on Facebook is nearly three times that of Instagram: 93% of marketers use Facebook, compared to 36% using Instagram. Maybe it has to do with brand fatigue on Facebook.
But perhaps the best way to understand the marketing difference between Facebook and Instagram is to look at performance over time. Organic marketing on Facebook has declined 63% since 2021, while on Instagram, it has grown 115% in the same time. It seems like Facebook’s hour has come before the latest algorithm change.