Breaking Down the Differences Between Facebook & Instagram

Facebook & Instagram, Instagram and Facebook…as the two social media platforms owned by Meta, these two are often grouped together, and it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking they’re essentially the same thing. 

But the reality is that, just like LinkedIn, Twitter, & TikTok, Facebook and Instagram are each their own unique platforms. 

But how can you really tell?  

It all starts with the content! 

Content shared on Instagram is much more visual, because there is no ability to create text-only posts on the platform. Because it’s more visual, the look and feel of your profile is extremely important. Businesses must pay close attention to how their brand is portrayed on Instagram – this includes things like colors and graphic style. 

Text-only posts are allowed on Facebook, but adding in a graphic is always the best way to go in order to stay on good times with the algorithm. On Facebook, you can add a photo, video, or use a link preview instead of creating your own custom graphic – not so on Instagram!

Instagram is almost exclusively mobile-friendly; although you can access the platform from your desktop computer, the web browser version is missing a lot of the functionality of the mobile app. Additionally, you might have noticed a common phrase in Instagram captions: “link in bio”. This is because unlike Facebook, Instagram doesn’t allow clickable links in captions; instead, you can add a single link into your bio. For most brands and businesses, one link isn’t enough, so you’ll want to consider turning to a platform like LinkTree or LinkInProfile to allow you to host multiple links at one easy-to-navigate site. 

While Facebook skews more towards an older generation who don’t mind reading lengthier posts, Instagram’s demographic is much younger, and the best captions are short and sweet, with 3-5 hashtags for a boost in visibility. Curated content is also much more popular on Facebook than on Instagram, where users expect to see original content from those they follow. 

So, what’s the biggest mistake businesses can make on social media?

Not customizing your content per platform! 

While similar on the surface, Instagram and Facebook have their own separate needs – partially driven by what your followers expect to see, and partially driven by the algorithm (which is also driven by what users expect to see – it all comes back to the user!)

Measuring Your Success

There are a lot of metrics for measuring your results on social media – awareness, impressions, followers, audience insight…but the number one metric to watch is your engagement. There are a variety of elements that go into boosting your engagement rates, including likes, comments, direct messages, saves, shares, and even the length of time someone spends watching your videos or reels.

Engagement is one of the top ways the algorithm determines where (and how often) your content shows up in your followers’ feeds, which is why it’s so important to post engaging content, and to encourage your followers to interact with you as much as possible. When your audience consistently comments on, likes, and shares your posts, and views your reels, Instagram sees it as a sign that they want to see more of your content. 

To inspire your audience to interact with your content, try one of these tactics: 

  • Ask a question in your post
  • Reply to comments with a follow-up question
  • Encourage followers to like and share
  • Use clear & simple calls to action, so your audience knows exactly what you’d like for them to do

The trick to a successful engagement strategy on Instagram or Facebook is also to remember: it’s about more than just your audience engaging with you! On behalf of your brand or business, you should also be engaging with other pages or accounts in your industry. This helps the platform get a better sense of your business and your industry, and allows you to build substantial relationships with potential clients and customers, or prospective partners – and building relationships is what social media marketing is all about!

How are Facebook & Instagram different when it comes to engagement? 

When it comes to rates of engagement, Instagram beats Facebook every time – this 2022 study has the average Instagram engagement rate at .67%, while Facebook’s average engagement rate is .06%. You might have noticed this in your own Insight reports: people just don’t engage as often on Facebook – and so far, there’s no clear reason as to why. It could be the demographics, it could be the layout, it could be the fact that Facebook is becoming increasingly pay-to-play for businesses – or it could be a combination of all of these reasons and more. 

But Instagram does have a (somewhat!) unique feature that helps boost their engagement rates: Instagram Stories.

Although stories exist on Facebook, they aren’t used on Facebook with nearly the same frequency, and Facebook Stories often lag behind Instagram in terms of updates and available features. If you want to dive into stories to help boost your engagement and reach a wider audience, Instagram is where you want to begin. 

Your Stories should be personal and feel intimate – not sales-y or overly promotional. Keep an eye on the layout as you add different elements like stickers or filters; it’s important to maintain authenticity and not go overboard with all the extras that Instagram has to offer. You also want to make sure that any text or action buttons are easily clickable, and not too far off the edge of the screen.  

Not sure what to post on your Story? Try these topics!

  • A valuable resource
  • Ask a Question, offer a poll, or share a This/That quiz
  • Behind the Scenes videos
  • Suggestion or tip
  • Use your Story as an opportunity to tag other brands/businesses
  • Share your new Reel or post

If Facebook engagement is so low – should I even bother being on the platform? 

Although Facebook engagement rates don’t quite stack up to Instagram, it’s still an incredibly important platform for businesses to be on. Your presence on Facebook helps build brand awareness and trust, and boosts SEO – Google and other search engines track and index the content you share on Facebook. 

Your Facebook Page also offers what’s known as “social proof”. In other words, even if your followers aren’t engaging frequently with your content, their Facebook friends can still find your page and see that their friend or family member has followed your page, which is an unspoken referral, and an indication of trustworthiness. And even with the low engagement rates, having a Facebook Page for your business is still an opportunity to connect with your followers, and encourage them to engage with you as much as possible. Facebook is a great outlet for sharing content, even if it’s passively consumed. 

And if you are interested in digital ads, Facebook Ads are a great way to start. Facebook offers detailed audience targeting, and you can run multiple versions of the same ad to find the one that works best for you. 

Whatever social media platform (or platforms!) suit your business best, remember that you can never go wrong sharing authentic, well-branded, and relevant content on any platform. For more in-depth support with your social media marketing, reach out to our experts today. And be sure to check out our free on-demand Business Growth Series for support with all your digital marketing efforts, including a webinar and Q&A on this very topic!


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