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Facebook vs. Instagram (for SMBs) — Which Should You Use?

By Michael Smith on May 7, 2021

Social media advertising isn’t optional for small businesses – and if you’ve been shirking on your social media game, it’s time to step it up.

Your customers expect to find you on at least one of their favorite social media sites. They want to follow you, read your content, and learn something new about your business and what you have to offer.

Two of the most popular social media sites are Facebook and Instagram – but you might be wondering if one is better than the other for your small business advertising. As a Facebook advertising agency, we have thoughts and we’re ready to share them with you.

Facebook vs. Instagram by the Numbers

How many potential customers can you reach on Facebook and Instagram? The answer to that question can help to point you in the direction of the right social media site for your business.

Facebook has more users than Instagram, 2.8 billion as of the end of 2020 compared to one billion active daily users on Instagram. While that’s a big difference, it’s important to note that Instagram’s numbers are impressive.

Another key metric when considering your social media advertising options is the demographic information of users. Facebook skews older than Instagram with most users in the 25-34 demographic. The average Instagram user is under 30.

You’ll need to think about who the people in your target audience are and where they’re most likely to be before you decide between Facebook and Instagram.

Engagement on Facebook and Instagram

When consumers engage with businesses and brands on social media, they have certain expectations. They don’t want to be bombarded with relentless ads beseeching them to buy something. They want useful information, special deals, and engagement.

Let’s start with Facebook. 40 million small businesses have a Facebook page and it’s difficult to ignore that number. The chances are good that most, if not all, your competitors have a presence on Facebook. Regardless of whether you decide to make Facebook advertising a priority, you need to be there. 

That said, Facebook business posts get average engagement of just 0.18%. It can be even lower if your page has over 10,000 followers. By contrast, the engagement rate on Instagram is significantly higher than that, coming in at 0.96%.

Purchases on Facebook and Instagram

Engagement is one thing but by itself, it’s not putting money in your pocket. For that reason, our next metric is an essential one. Are your followers more likely to buy from you on Facebook or Instagram?

Looking at raw numbers, Facebook comes out on top. According to the most recent data, 18.3% of all Facebook users have made a purchase on Facebook compared with just 11.1% of Instagram users. 

That’s impressive but it doesn’t tell the whole story. There are some products that lend themselves more to Facebook advertising, particularly services and B2B products. Since there are more people on Facebook than on Instagram, it stands to reason that their numbers would be higher, too.

Demographics come into play here again. Instagram boasts of being able to reach a youth audience (defined as people between the ages of 13 and 17) of 83 million. Facebook can’t match that number, although it’s undeniable that in some parts of the world, Facebook is more popular than Instagram.

Facebook vs. Instagram for Your Products

When you’re considering a social media advertising strategy, it’s essential to think about which social media site will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Since most business have a presence on Facebook, there’s a good chance that you’ll find some people there who are interested in your products.

That said, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that Instagram offers businesses with visual and aspirational products a distinct advantage. For example, 50% of Instagram users who follow fashion brands say they have made a purchase on Instagram.

If you have a product or service that lends itself to simple, visual advertising, then you may want to put more of your advertising budget into Instagram. By contrast, a company with an informational product or a service that requires more in the way of explanation may find Facebook to be preferable.

Social Media Advertising Benchmarks

One of the things you should know about engagement and click-through-rates is that both numbers have remained consistent on Facebook. As Instagram has attracted more followers, the engagement rates there have been creeping up and are, in many cases, higher than they are on Facebook.

However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be advertising on Facebook. There are still more active daily users on Facebook than there are on Instagram. The average conversion rate on Facebook across all industries as of 2020 is 9.21%, much higher than Google and far ahead of Instagram, where the average conversion rate sits at 1.08%. That’s higher than Pinterest and Twitter, but still far behind Facebook.

Should Your Small Business Advertise on Facebook or Instagram?

It’s time to decide how to allocate your social media advertising budget. Which will it be? Facebook or Instagram?

If you have the time (and budget) to advertise on only one social media site, then we recommend Facebook. With greater reach and higher conversion rates than Instagram, it makes sense to use your advertising budget to reach as many people as possible – and Facebook is the best place to do that. The chances are excellent that most, if not all, of your competitors are on Facebook. That means you need to be there, too.

That said, some companies may have a target audience that’s more in line with Instagram’s demographics. Companies selling a visual and aspirational product or service may want to take advantage of Instagram’s visual marketing and advertising options. Keep in mind that Facebook owns Instagram and cross-posting between platforms is easy and encouraged if you decide you’d like to be in both places.

At Umbrella Local, we work with small businesses every day to help them get guaranteed results on their social media advertising campaigns. Click here to read about our Facebook advertising services.

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