Maham S. Chappal
on December 14, 2020 (last modified on May 11, 2022) • 22 minute read
If you are wondering “Should I use Facebook or Instagram” or “How do I know which social media platform is right for my business?”, this blog post is for you.
If you are one of the people who say, “Oh, nobody uses Facebook anymore. The only people there are my parents and their friends, so logically Instagram is the way to go.” or “All the millennials are on Instagram, so I should choose this platform for our business.” – yes, this blog post is for you too.
Given the immense popularity and audience size of both platforms, it can be rather tempting to spread your resources across both social media networks.
But is this really the best strategy to effectively reach your audience?
In order to determine whether Facebook or Instagram – or both – is the right decision for your brand, we’ll take a look at some crucial data and thoroughly explore the strengths and weaknesses of both platforms.
So let’s dive in.
When we take a look at the numbers, we can immediately notice that both platforms are super strong.
Facebook had a head start though, so it’s no wonder they have a bit larger user base and popularity. However, Instagram’s growth has been strong and steady, and we are expecting explosive growth over the next few years.
Considering the facts, it’s no wonder many brands try to leverage both Facebook and Instagram to build their brand.
Thomas Dalkins of OnBuy confirms this, “Here at OnBuy, we’re seeing success with both our Facebook and Instagram strategies. When it comes to organic follower increase, we find it easier to build our Instagram follower base.
In the last quarter of 2020, our organic page likes on Facebook have increased by 261% and our organic Instagram following has shot up by a whopping 487%.
Although both channels are growing, Facebook still takes the crown as the most effective social media site in terms of organic brand building. In this quarter, OnBuy’s Instagram engagement has shot up by 1002%, but this has been pipped to the post by Facebook, which boasts a huge surge of 1301%.” Further explains Dalkins.
Let’s look at the numbers and key stats now.
With over 2.7 billion monthly active users, Facebook leads the most users race. It is the biggest social platform with respect to the number of users.
However, Instagram isn’t far behind with over 1 billion users. Considering how it only had 30 million users in 2012, it’s come a long way.
Audience demographics are one of the key factors in deciding which social platform to use for building your brand. SproutSocial has done an excellent job in outlining Facebook’s and Instagram’s usage among key demographics.
So, when comparing age, Facebook is more popular among older generations, and Instagram is popular among the young, especially 13 years old to 17 years old.
Instagram see’s better engagement levels amongst the two platforms. According to a recent study, brands see 10x higher engagement rates of Instagram than Facebook.
On average, 95 million photos are uploaded daily on Instagram, and posts get approximately 4.2 billion likes per day. And that’s not all, 63% of Instagram users check the app at least once per day, and 42% open it multiple times within the same day.
We saw similar results in our recent survey too.
If you compare the visual aptitude of both these platforms, Instagram images get an average of 23% more engagement than their Facebook counterparts. And videos do even better. Videos on Instagram receive about 38% more engagement than images.
Let’s talk about Instagram Stories now.
Instagram stories are gaining more and more popularity with each passing day.
So, Instagram Stories have become a critical marketing and brand building tool for marketers and brands.
On Facebook, users spend an average of 20 minutes per day on the site.
What kind of content performs best on Facebook?
Live streams. They do a lot better than recorded videos and picture posts. Users are 4x more likely to watch live streams than recorded videos.
When we asked marketing professionals which social platform yields the most engagement, 65.4% said Instagram.
Editor’s Note: Want to track all your social media KPIs in one place? Download this HubSpot Social Media template dashboard to identify how many customers originated from each social media source. It monitors day-by-day visits from social media networks as well.
“From an organic brand-building standpoint, both Facebook and Instagram have served pivotal roles in growing our following”, explains Jeff Dundas of Talk Central. “However, in terms of viewership and follows, Instagram has proven to be superior to Facebook. But, in regards to users sharing our content and sending us inquiries via the platform’s chat function, Facebook has been more effective.”
Facebook and Instagram have their pros and cons, and yield different results for different brands. While some businesses see insane results via Instagram, others see equally amazing conversions through Facebook.
As Bilawal Gul of Essay River aptly says, “The thing to understand is both platforms provide different user experiences hence it is not appropriate to compare the two. Rather use the platforms according to your requirement to produce the desired results.”
So, we asked 34 marketing pros what is their favorite social media platform for brand-building, and here’s what they said.
“We find almost without exception that Instagram outperforms Facebook by 3-6x when it comes to engagement, but once we turn to conversions, Facebook almost always outperforms Instagram.
Sure, there are industries where this would be different, but for us (and our client accounts) we generally build that engagement and visibility on IG, then make the sale on FB.” Shares Adam Inglis of Digital Chimp.
Editor’s Note: Download this Facebook Pages dashboard template to better understand how people learn about your brand on Facebook. It also showcases your top-performing posts on Facebook.
“I believe that Facebook is a much more powerful medium for building your brand, especially if your target is business owners.” Explains Francois-Louis Mommens of Linkody.
“The demographic of Facebook users shows that they’re much older than Instagram’s. Because of that, I’m able to reach more qualified traffic that might, in turn, buy my product. Going by logic, it’s evident that adults make more money than teenagers and require services for their businesses. Having an active business Facebook profile lets me approach more people and, perhaps, convince them to visit my website.”
Patrick Garde of ExaWeb Corporation and the Facebook ad experts we polled in this study on Facebook ads also share the same opinion. As Garde said “For our company, Facebook has been more effective when it comes to organic brand-building as compared to Instagram.
One factor has been due to market share as 92.73% of social media users in the Philippines use Facebook vs. Instagram’s 0.63% market share. We can reach more people on Facebook, hence, we are able to receive more engagements on the platform.”
For bloggers and brands that use blogs as a primary content marketing tool, Facebook can be an excellent way to drive qualified audiences back to their website.
Dhruvir Zala of Scale Blogging says, “There’s no doubt Facebook qualifies in generating a targeted and huge amount of traffic for your blog.”
Why Facebook and not Instagram?
Zala explains, “Instagram does not allow users to post any URLs in the posts. Also, you can only post your URL (swipe up button) in the Instagram story once you cross 10k followers.
But here’s a trick. After the launch of the Instagram Reels, many bloggers and Affiliate Marketers have to start creating small clips. The results are amazing. This is because not many people are currently using reels.
On the other hand, Facebook has always been a traffic hub for bloggers. On Facebook, you can paste unlimited links. However, its policies are stricter in terms of links.
You can join as many groups as you like and start promoting your blog in a legit way.”
Jared Zabaldo of USAMM agrees and adds, “With Facebook still being the popular choice for posting articles and company news, it provides us with a better opportunity to share new blog posts, how-to guides and other user-friendly content to drive traffic to our website. Then, the magic happens.” Track how many links you generate on Facebook using this social media dashboard software.
A lot of it comes down to the audience you’re targeting as well.
“If you’re looking more local, a combination of Facebook organic and paid targeted advertising is definitely key.” Shares Tiffany Lewis of More Meaningful Marketing.
Editor’s note: This Facebook dashboard template provides you with insights about page views, likes post reach which will help you to know more about page followers.
“Facebook Groups are a great way to build brand warmth and connect with users, emotionally. Groups allow you to facilitate and leverage community conversation, so not a sales tactic but a great way to learn about a customer’s passion, want or need.” Explains Kineta Kelsall of Jellyfish Training.
“There is a Facebook Group for everyone. Whether you’re an experimental interior designer or a digital marketing guru, groups are a place where people feel safe to express themselves, without judgement or without being sold to. Also, Facebook prioritises Groups in a person’s Newsfeed. Why? The platform has identified the experience a user gets in a Group as authentic and more relevant because they’ve chosen to be there, rather than being targeted.
Some great examples of Groups are Healthspan’s ‘CBD Support’, Pizza Hut’s ‘Cheesey Bites Appreciate Society’, and ‘The Social Media Geek Out’. All built for one reason, to add value to people’s lives.” Adds Kelsall.
Laura Peters of Mike & Laura Travel is of the same mind.
Peters says, “An active and engaged Facebook group can help you build a community and, in turn, grow your brand to great lengths.
Instagram, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same community aspects that Facebook does. It’s far less intimate and therefore much more difficult to build your brand.”
We all know that Instagram is a visual content haven.
As Dakota Lowe of Khoros says, “Instagram has become the new homepage. Instagram prioritizes strong imagery, which helps convey and solidify your brand to others.”
DUNK Basketball’s Ben Arndt says, “For our business, Instagram has been a far more effective platform in terms of consistently growing our brand.
The success of our main product (custom basketball jerseys) is based on aesthetics – smart designs with eye-catching appeal. This fits perfectly with utilizing Instagram, a highly visual platform that puts an emphasis on photos.
We share business updates on Facebook and still find this platform valuable, but we ensure primary attention is given to producing high quality photo content for our Instagram account.”
Dan Bailey of WikiLawn agrees with the two and adds, “Instagram has definitely been more effective for us. We can post photos and videos there that fit well on the platform, and we can also coordinate with influencers to help market as well.”
Johan Hajji of Upperkey shares his experience and says, “Because we’re a property management company and Instagram is a great place to share content in a multimedia form, we’re keen on using that. It has proven to be quite a bit more effective than Facebook for our marketing endeavors.
I feel like Instagram users are more likely to like your content, whereas on Facebook, people seem just to be scrolling mindlessly, and they don’t even pay much attention. Even though we’ve got more likes on Facebook than follows on Instagram, we get plenty more engagement on the latter. Instagram is perfect for posting eye-candy photos of our real estate and makes for a great marketing platform.”
“When your company relies on visuals to attract potential new customers, Instagram is definitely the way to go.”Shares Sundae’s Joey Campbell. “With the potential to reach consumers within a demographic that responds best to quick, effective information, Instagram offers that opportunity. Plus, when your content is highly shareable, this social platform also performs quite well.”
Travis Killian of Everlasting Comfort is a big fan of Instagram for this very reason and says, “When showing off an assortment of products, Instagram really does the trick! Always known for their visual integrity this social platform performs best for us as a place for consumers to shop around and get gifts or product ideas on a regular basis. For this reason, we also design graphics that are both eye-appealing and worthy of shares.”
Editor’s note: This Instagram Business (post performance) dashboard template looks at the actions and performance of your posts. It will help you or your team focus on what matters – engaging more followers.
While some brands see better engagement on Facebook, most still believe that Instagram trumps Facebook when engagement is concerned.
Stephanie Riel of RielDeal Marketing says, “Instagram is more effective than Facebook from an organic brand-building standpoint because of the ability for in-depth engagement. With Instagram, there is an intuitive design for engagement with features such as comments, likes, and hashtags for users to dig further for ongoing research, exploration, and connection.
Brands that leverage the inherent tools that Instagram provides to engage with the audience consistently see a boost in the brand awareness and brand building organically, over time.”
Jessica Bishop of The Budget Savvy Bride agrees and shares, “Instagram has definitely been more effective for building my brand and engaging with our audience. The addition of Instagram Stories, IGTV, and Reels have been great ways to engage and interact with our audience, receive real time feedback and more!”
Alex Cascio of Vibrant Media Productions believes most of Instagram’s success is because of hashtags and its explore page.
“Instagram has shown to be a more effective and stronger way for organic brand building due to the outreach potential it has through hashtags/explore pages. We’ve had posts that have gotten engagement through a few pages when we directly target them with tags (for products/services) that can easily repost them.
Overall, Instagram has truly proven itself to be the best platform for organic brand-building and is constantly evolving with the new ‘shop’ edition for companies that are in the e-commerce industry.” Explains Cascio.
Editor’s note: Use this Instagram dashboard template to gain better insight into your overall account health and performance that will ultimately help you to learn more about your Instagram followers.
Related: 16 Ways To Measure Social Media Engagement Using Only Google Analytics
“For me, Instagram definitely outperforms Facebook when it comes to organic reach. That’s both due to the variety of features and the way algorithms work.” Shares Aida Grigoryan of Incredo.
“Hashtags are undoubtedly more powerful than Facebook hashtags, adding location tags to posts and stories really makes sense on Instagram. They do help increase organic reach as Instagram is a search engine as well and users look for products and tips. And how would they search if not via hashtags?
There’s an Explore section on Instagram and carousel posts are allowed. Explore is a top tool that helps increase organic reach and carousel posts again help as they are more engaging, and consequently, Instagram shows them to more people.
Even when comparing the two platforms in terms of features, Instagram rules!” Adds Grigoryan.
Isabella Mello of Hearst Bay Area agrees and adds, “From an organic perspective, Instagram has worked really well for us, especially considering Facebook’s declining organic reach. Instagram is a wonderful platform to establish both a visual and written identity. While Facebook requires more paid efforts to generate engagement and reach, Instagram is a naturally engaging platform.”
Dog with Blog’s Abhishek Joshi says, “Of late it has been Instagram as Facebook’s organic reach has literally been nonexistent.”
We completely agree.
“With hashtags, timely curated editorial content – Instagram offers a better opportunity to drive engagement. We also experiment with reels and stories to spread awareness around pet adoptions and have seen that the organic engagement on Instagram is far better as compared to Facebook.” Explains Joshi.
Karolina Cala of Calla Shoes shares her experience with both platforms and says, “Instagram has been far more effective. I believe that this is thanks to the power of hashtags, the discovery page, and the ease of user-to-user sharing on the platform. Calla has also had great success tapping into the audiences of other brands, as well as influencers, on Instagram. We have found that this was not a strategy that works on Facebook.
Additionally, while time-consuming, simply leaving a meaningful comment, or a like, on a user’s photo, still yields results in terms of organic brand building on Instagram. This just isn’t a thing on Facebook, really.”
“Because of the Instagram ‘Discovery’ feature, your content can be found by new audiences, depending on the hashtags you use.” Shares Christina Strickland of Crackerjack Marketing.
Instagram allows you to connect with your followers on a personal, human level. This is why a lot of brands have been showing bloopers, taking followers behind the scenes, conducting regular FAQ and AMA sessions, and so on.
Dr. Robert Applebaum of Applebaum Beverly Hills reveals that, “Instagram has been the most effective at building our brand.”
Applebaum explains why and says, “Instagram lets me take people behind the scenes into my world. This gives people a sense of comfort knowing that I do everything in my power to secure their safety.”
Derin Oyekan of Reel Paper explains,”The reason why Instagram is great for brand building is that you create and share stories just like everyone else. Every post and story has the opportunity to make you more relatable to users and be one of them instead of someone that sells them products.”
Who is your target audience?
Are you targeting millennials, baby boomers, or gen z?
Jason Wong of DoeLashes shares, “Right now the platform that has been driving most of our brand-building awareness is Instagram. The difference between Facebook and Instagram is the type of audience that you are trying to resonate with. For example, Facebook has a lot of boomers and a bit of millennials because it’s one of the oldest social media platforms but if you want to target a younger audience Instagram works perfectly.
Our brand leverages better off Instagram because we want to appeal to the younger beauty community and they reside mainly on Instagram.”
Now that we’ve discussed the strengths and weaknesses of both platforms, which one takes the cake for organic brand building?
Short answer, both.
Let’s discuss which businesses prefer Instagram for organic brand building and which ones opt for Facebook.
When asked which platform they saw maximum traction from, Matt Rostosky of Cashofferky says, “Definitely Facebook! We’ve gained so much traction in this platform in terms of generating organic leads.”
Jaqueline Tristan of ThoughtLab shares, “In our experience, Facebook has been the biggest driver when it comes to organic brand building on social media.
As a family owned and operated business, we want to give our employees a family atmosphere they can count on. Our goal with Pride’s Facebook page was to help facilitate that feeling by creating a space where drivers can share their opinions on industry topics, photos from the road, and their advice or experiences. Doing so has created a strong sense of community and another avenue for us to connect with our drivers – all while reinforcing one of our brand’s core values.”
Deepak Kumar of Einsstark is of the same opinion and says, “I believe Facebook is still far more effective for building organic as well as social brand awareness. I can easily find the targeted audience on Facebook and drive them to my website. Whereas on Instagram, I have to put some work to expose my brand to others, for example running Instagram Ad campaigns.
Also, statistically, the Google search algorithm favors Facebook over Instagram for organic brand building.”
“Facebook has been more effective from an organic brand-building standpoint. Facebook is more suited to our industry.” Shares Gregory Golinski of YourParkingSpace.
“If you’re not part of an industry that’s based on visual stimuli (beautiful clothes, exotic countries, cute pets), it’s not the best place to really build a brand name.”
A lot of people prefer Instagram over Facebook because they believe that to generate quality leads on Facebook you need to spend money.
Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers Company explains, “Facebook is a ‘pay-to-play’ kind of platform. If you don’t pay for ads, your reach, impressions, and engagement will be very low.
On another hand, with Instagram, you can build your brand, community, and engagement organically, without paying for ads. Therefore, to build your brand organically, definitely opt for Instagram over Facebook.”
Janice Wald of Mostly Blogging agrees with Aufray and says, “As much as I use Facebook groups for blog promotion, Instagram has been far better for brand building. By boosting my Instagram following, I boost my brand. As a result, I am often contacted by brands who want to collaborate with me. Today, I was offered a 4-figure deal to collaborate, an easy gig too.
Instagram is ideal for brand building through stories, networking, and feed posting. Growing your following grows your brand as more people hear about you and share your work. Some brands host contests. Their followers share their content to gain contest entry. The result: The following grows, the brand grows, and the brand’s income grows.”
Steve Yanor of Sky Alphabet Social Media explains why Instagram is by far and away the best platform for organic brand-building.
“Only 2% of posts on Facebook are open to the outside world; the vast and overwhelming majority of organic views on Facebook occur in private groups which are not much use unless the brand is already inside the group. This makes Instagram not only more viable but also effective when appropriate hashtags and direct messaging are used.”
Andrew Witts of Studio 36 Digital believes that although organic reach can be tough on both Facebook and Instagram today, “The algorithms favor content from friends & family before businesses, we do find Instagram to be more beneficial for organic brand building.”
“The reason I believe comes down to the far simpler interface and feed from Instagram. The Facebook feed is extremely weighty with posts, comments, shares from contacts, and nowhere near enough room to display all of these, and businesses are bottom of the list.
Instagram, while still extremely busy, has a much simpler feed. Photos & pictures are key, shares aren’t possible unless added to a story. We find this to create a much more business-friendly platform.
Yes, the organic reach is low, but developing a strategy of posting times, a variation of content and good use of researched hashtags can help to build a brand with relative ease.” Explains Witts.
If you don’t have a lot of marketing budget, Instagram works best for you.
Sarah Turpin of Wyatt International shares her experience and says, “For one of my clients, Instagram has been instrumental in helping to build the brand organically. As a relatively small brand they don’t necessarily have the budget for paid ads, so we have had to curate an organic feed that is engaging.
Instagram gives us the opportunity to be more creative as we have a whole grid aesthetic to play with and several interactive features on stories.
We have managed to create a visually impressive flowing feed of content while utilizing stories to really connect with our audience by asking for their opinions and allowing them to be part of our brand and have their say through polls, quizzes, and Q&A’s.
By investing time in our Instagram strategy we have managed to increase engagement rate as well as our followers in a short space of time.”
As Lee W. Johnson of Old Bull Lee aptly says.“Social media is not the destination, it is the conduit. Social media is a tool that increases brand awareness and serves to funnel people to a site where a cookie is dropped onto their browser, from which a brand can later efficiently remarket to them or build lookalike audiences off of their profile.”
So choose wisely. It’s always best to use both the platforms simultaneously together to yield maximum benefit and build a strong online presence. Leverage the insights these free social media dashboards provide to get the most out of your efforts.
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