Why Instagram Scores Over Facebook For Contemporary Marketers
As the world’s first social media platform, Facebook continues, even today, to be the largest with 2.38 billion users. Not only has it opened our eyes to the potential of social networks for personal communications but also to the many possibilities for businesses to market their products and services.
However, in just a decade, Instagram, now also owned by Facebook, has made rapid strides to emerge as the fastest growing social network with a monthly active user base exceeding one billion. With the mobile phone dominating every aspect of our lives, it does seem that Instagram, a smartphone app, is the perfect marketing tool for brands. Some comparisons of Instagram with Facebook to help marketers decide which to use as the principal tool for engaging with their target audiences.
The Numbers Game
Facebook has capitalized very well on the fact that it was the very first social media platform some 15 years ago. Today with 2.38 billion users, it dominates the world of social media but Instagram has not been very slow in the catch-up game. It already has more than one billion monthly active users and is still registering very aggressive growth, especially in countries other than America. The thing that most marketers will not fail to note is that 96% of Facebook users accessed it over a mobile device because this is the very space that has been responsible for the meteoric rise of Instagram. Instagram scores very high on the engagement front with its experts estimating it to be ten times that of Facebook. While 74% of marketers confirm that they are using Facebook to communicate with their target audience, it is clear that Instagram has also caught up fast on this metric with more than 75% of marketers including it in the marketing strategy in 2020.
Even though in terms of absolute numbers on various counts, Facebook would seem to lead the way, it is in the quality of the followers that Instagram seems to have scored better. Today Facebook is largely used by an audience that is 35 years of age and older whereas Instagram seems to be the domain of the Millennials. According to www.searchenginejournal.com, more than 500 million users use Instagram Stories daily and it has emerged as a top attraction for brands to engage their audiences more informally. According to social media experts, while businesses cannot afford to ignore Facebook because of the sheer numbers involved, the attention is clearly shifting to Instagram. The visual orientation of Instagram is a big plus for marketers as it allows them to present their product pluses more engagingly.
The metric that Instagram scores over Facebook is engagement. According to one benchmarking study, it was established that the median engagement rate of a post on Facebook was 0.09 while the corresponding figure for Instagram was 1.6%. Other studies show different results; however, the consensus is that the engagement rate of Instagram is far superior to that of Facebook. It is important for marketers not to get distracted by the chase for adding followers because as important as it is, the real metric that they should be watching out for is engagement. After all, it is more indicative of how involved the audience is with your brand. An example of a post by Quest Nutrition shows the sharp difference in engagement between Instagram and Facebook. To put the matter in the right perspective, Quest has 1.1 million likes compared to 491,000 followers on Instagram. The same post earned over 2,400 likes on Instagram while on Facebook it managed to get only 21. Even in the matter of comments, Instagram has 20, while it was just one on Facebook.
However, the higher rate of engagement should not be taken as a given for Instagram because several factors go into the extent of user interaction with your content. For example, pictures posted on Instagram perform far better than on Facebook because Instagram users are more at home with visual content. Posts that are predominantly text, on the other hand invariably do better on Facebook because the younger users on Instagram lack the patience to read large amounts of text. On both the platforms, visibility of the posts and hence the engagement depends less on when you post and more on the quality, relevance, and how well the content is aligned with your interests. Marketers can, however, buy real Instagram likes for small sums to shore up their engagement level and give their brands some additional momentum. However, according to reports, Instagram will possibly be reverting to its earlier system of a chronological feed.
Marketing strategies based only on the number of users can go awry if marketers fail to consider the impact of demographics. According to studies, the main difference in the composition of users of Facebook and Instagram is that Facebook users tend to be relatively older while users of Instagram are generally under the age of 30. Instagram is far more popular with teenagers and the young crowd because they tend to use their smartphones more. Also, the visual nature of Instagram is a huge draw for the younger generation as it facilitates them to show off their lifestyle and how they are following trends and fads. For marketers selling lifestyle products, services, and experiences, it is invariably more productive for them to focus on Instagram while Facebook can still be important for marketers with products for a more mature audience like luxury items or highly-priced things like financial investments, sedans, real estate, etc.
The difference between Facebook and Instagram runs far deeper than posts being text or photo-based. To a large extent, the function of Facebook posts is to inform its audience while Instagram users are more interested in experiencing moments and engaging with brands. Facebook is very complex and gives users lots of options while Instagram's offerings are restricted and focused on visual content though it can deliver that in multiple ways. Marketers should not make the mistake of equating the capabilities and personality of Facebook and Instagram; even if they want the same content to be posted on each, the presentation needs to be different for achieving the optimum impact.