Back when Facebook bought Instagram in a billion-dollar acquisition, it was considered a bold move. Today, Instagram is now worth 10x its acquisition cost.
At this point in time, no one questions Facebook’s decision.
Let us be honest, Instagram cannot take on Facebook on the sheer number of active users. Instagram reached a commendable 1 billion, making it in the top 3 most popular social media channels. But that didn’t come nearly as close to Facebook’s 2.6 billion.
That begs the question – why not just dump all my social media marketing spend on Facebook and reach 2x as many users?
Before you put all your eggs in one basket, hold that thought.
Because, as we will get into it in this blog, that premise isn’t entirely true. If your brand is aiming for younger age groups (i.e. under 30 years old), your best bet is to put invest on Instagram. It is about the quality of the impressions, not the quantity.
Facebook vs. Instagram: what’s the difference?
So how can a smaller channel potentially make bigger waves?
As we mentioned earlier, it isn’t purely about visibility, but more so visibility to your target market.
The key resides in the channel’s DNA, which is marketing speak for: their algorithms. The algorithm of a social media feed is the code that determines which users see which posts and in which order.
Remember the days you used to see posts in chronological order? That is long gone.
The algorithms are set up the way they are in order to maximize the user’s experience, to show you more of what is relevant to you. It is never entirely accurate and takes a lot of experimentation to understand the basis upon which to organize a feed.
As you can imagine, the algorithms are secrets of the trade. We can’t know for sure, but speculations have been made, and below is what we’ve found to prove true when tested.
If you’re looking to ace SMM, it is worth to keep in mind when thinking about both Facebook Optimization and Instagram Optimization.
- Friends and family: on Facebook, personal posts are ranked higher than posts coming from brands.
- Engagement: Posts that receive more comments, likes, and shares – taking into consideration the time they were posted.
- Encouraging posts that spark a conversation are ranked higher
- Visual posts: posts with images and videos are ranked higher, leaving text-based posts lower
- Click-bait is a big no-no! i.e. posts that’s sole purpose is to aggressively garner attention through clicks
- Overly promotional content is demoted – pages that push users to purchase a product or service, or posts that are carbon copies of ads
- Engagement: the higher amount of hearts and comments a post receives
- Timeliness: the posts that are more recent are considered more relevant
- Relationship: the algorithm shows posts by the users that you regularly interact with first
- Frequency of usage: if a user opens IG in short bursts, the algorithm will display more relevant posts higher; for those who prefer longer sessions, the algorithm may display a deeper catalog with more fresh content to browse
It seemed like the goal for the Facebook algorithm was to keep exacerbated news stories to a minimum while boosting the more personal conversations; but that comes with a price, brands and public content, in consequence, have less exposure.
Now that we’ve seen what’s behind the curtain, let’s examine what it looks like from the outside.
Facebook is the best channel to target a demographic above the age of 30, given that you’re investing in paid advertising. Users on Facebook are not drawn to interact with brands, favoring engagement with more closer connections.
A really helpful feature unique to Facebook is the ease by which you can direct users to a third-party website.
Instagram doesn’t allow sharing of links in posts; any links go in the bio, making the user have to go through extra steps which can be a setback for generating traffic.
But it has its own upsides as well. Instagram is great for direct marketing. Anything to do with spreading awareness, showcasing products and services, influencer marketing, and engaging with customers. It performs brilliantly for users under 30 years of age.
Instagram places less emphasis on interaction, focusing more on being a lifestyle destination to discover the newest in trends, artists, fashion.
The industries it excels in include photography, design, fitness, beauty and keeping tabs on celebrity culture.
This is what makes Instagram a powerhouse for free exposure and influencer marketing. That’s because users are logging in actively seeking out product recommendations, in contrast with Facebook where they are practically running away from them, let alone seeing them in the first place.
While brand posts on Instagram reach a total 100% of their audience, brand posts on Facebook reach a disconcerting 6% only.
Recent data has also shown that brands on Instagram garner almost 60x the engagement than on Facebook.
It could be attributed to either the unique culture of each platform or the algorithm restrictions. Both ways, Instagram is home to developing a familiarity and interaction with your user.
It is intriguing then to see that only 36% of social media marketing happens on Instagram, while 93% exist on Facebook. That means that all the competition is still on Facebook.
But enough with the theory, let’s get down to SMO business.
Here are the best practices to tailor your strategies on both channels to get the most out of each.
Focus on producing your own original content. While it is common to share other people’s content on Facebook, Instagram is a resource of mostly original content. It is the lifeblood of your feed. Consider hiring local talent for a fresh take on your brand, Dubai is brimming with them! If not, you can always use ready-made templates and use high-quality stock images.
- Be consistent
Choose your theme and stick with it. The more you are razor-focused on your niche, the better you will perform. So, if you own a restaurant, post signature dishes. If you own a vintage furniture store, post items with crisp design. Stay true to your essence and give your followers what they want to see. Building a color scheme beforehand can prove to be helpful in deciding on your aesthetic.
- Get your bio right
On Instagram, your profile bio and description are your make or break moment. Put down a catchy slogan that represents your brand and describes what you do, uses your logo as your profile picture, and add your website link.
You can add up to 30 hashtags in your description on Instagram, so use them wisely! Hashtags are the perfect tool for finding your people and maximizing your spread, since you cannot directly target users. If 30 isn’t enough, don’t shy away from listing them down in the comments below your post.
People love winning – who doesn’t? Done right, your users will advertise your brand on your behalf. Get them to participate by sharing a photo that you uploaded, tagging their friends, and voila. You can also hop on the bandwagon of relevant trends to create your competitions.
We know now that Facebook favors visual content to text-only. But on Instagram, you must perfect your visual game. The human brain is wired to soak in images and videos much more than any other type of content. But remember, people are getting bored, quick. To capture a scroller’s attention, your post better looks fabulous.
- Don’t jump ship on Facebook
Yes, we’ve talked a lot about Instagram being the new focus of SMM for building relationships with your customers and your brand identity, but Facebook has its merits too, unique to it. With Facebook geared towards sharing and its reach, it remains very relevant. It is great for updating your audience with news about your brand, posting curated content and investing on paid advertising, which is proven to outdo Instagram by far.
And that wraps it up for the most part. Capitalizing on a dual strategy, while zeroing in on what each has to offer is your best bet to achieve SMO.
Facebook’s paid advertising impressive in its results, is better able to reach an older market and streamlines the funneling of users to external sites.
Instagram is suitable for finding and addressing the younger crowd, engaging with them and building your brand’s reputation. It also has way less competition. With the new generation being straight up baptized into the digital world and gaining a quick understanding of technology, Instagram gives you direct access for back-and-forth conversation with this portion of your segment.
Who knows what the cards hold for social media marketing? Perhaps Instagram will be reigning-champion in the future for the number of users and marketing prowess. For now, use both simultaneously, bearing in mind their individual strengths.