Social Media Showdown: Advertising on Facebook vs. Instagram

January 17 / Andrew Kopp / filed under Social Media

social media marketing facebook instagram

Did you know that the average American spends 35 minutes per day on Facebook and logs on eight times? Facebook has the kind of exposure that most websites only dream of. It’s reach is second only to the Google Display Network.

This, coupled with its intelligent targeting options, make Facebook, and its subsidiary Instagram, the perfect choice for advertisers looking to reach their audience where they live online. But despite being one, unified advertising network, would you be better served running ads on Facebook or Instagram?

Much of that depends on your product and marketing goals. Read on for a quick overview of the two platforms, how they differ, and how to craft a successful social media marketing strategy.

Reach and Target Audience

Facebook is truly massive, with 2 billion monthly active users and over 1 billion daily active users. Instagram is slightly smaller with only 700 million monthly active users. But with all digital marketing, reach is not as important as who you’re reaching.

According to Pew Research, Facebook adoption is higher in younger generations. 88% of Americans aged 18–29 use Facebook versus 62% of those 65+. Despite being outnumbered by Millenials and Gen-xers, Facebook is still the best social media platform for reaching Baby Boomers—Instagram only has 8% adoption by that 65+ demographic and 41% of American Facebook users are 65+.

In general, when our clients want to target younger demographics, we incorporate Instagram into their campaigns in addition to Facebook. Having a mixture of both platforms leads to excellent exposure and traction. For older audiences, we’ve observed weaker returns from Instagram.


Despite Facebook’s vast reach, people don’t tend to interact with businesses through reacting to, commenting on, and sharing their posts. Instagram, on the other hand, makes it easier to interact by simply tapping on a picture to “like” it. Around 4.2 billion posts are ‘liked’ each day on Instagram.

Likes are well and good, but what does that mean for the bottom line? Engaging with potential customers builds brand awareness. This makes them much more likely to convert when they see your ads in the future.

Ad Creative

All Facebook and Instagram ads are native, which means that they look a lot like regular content. If they weren’t marked Sponsored, it would be hard to tell ads from posts in your news feed. This means that the voice of Facebook ads are usually more casually and feel less like a sales pitch and more like a conversation.

Because they differ from static image ads found on the Google Display network, content on Facebook and Instagram can take many forms. The simplest ad is an image or video with a few lines of text. Then, there there are carousel and collection ads, which show a series of images with corresponding text. These are both great for telling a story or advertising a series of products.

Facebook is always innovating and releasing new ad formats. Recently, we’ve been experimenting with Instant Experiences, which is a new ad format that includes a mobile landing page that opens instantly when someone interacts with your ad. This is a great option to get new customers, introduce your product or brand, drive product sales, or encourage people to visit your website or app.

In Summary

Facebook and Instagram are very similar in terms of ad formats and targeting. Their key differences lie in the demographics that engage with them.

Interested in learning more? Give us a call to discuss how Chair 10 Marketing can help you drive growth through social media marketing.