Top 4 Differences in Ads Between Facebook and Instagram

Social media advertising can be frustrating for newcomers to jump into. Determining which platforms to use can feel like an exercise in madness because there are so many subtle differences. You need to pay attention to details like: User demographics...

differences between ads on social media illustration on a blue background

Social media advertising can be frustrating for newcomers to jump into. Determining which platforms to use can feel like an exercise in madness because there are so many subtle differences. You need to pay attention to details like:

  • User demographics
  • Cost of ads
  • Type of content allowed
  • Desktop vs. mobile viewing
  • Text vs. image vs. video

These considerations are just the beginning! When discussing social media advertising, there are two main names you’ll hear:

Facebook and Instagram

Before we get into the differences between them and discuss why you might want to use one or the other, know that they’re both owned by the same company — Meta. 

This reality means that much of the data you’ll rely on for targeting is coming from the same source. It also means that if you want to run ads on both platforms, you don’t have to recreate a campaign from the ground up. Usually, a few clicks will allow you to run your ad on Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook vs. Instagram Social Media Advertising

audience targeting illustrationJust because they’re owned by one company, and you can set up social media advertising super easily doesn’t mean that Facebook and Instagram are the same. Below are the 4 major differences that may affect your decision to advertise on one vs. the other or both:

1. Desktop and Mobile

How you want your ad to look or where you intend it to be viewed may impact your ad’s success. Remember the following:

  • Facebook is friendly to desktop and mobile viewing
  • Instagram is far more user-friendly on mobile

So if you have social media advertising that’s meant to be seen primarily on a computer screen, you’ll probably have better success running it on Facebook rather than Instagram. 

Instagram caters to short, easy-to-digest content. Posts are restricted to 2,200 characters, while a Facebook post can have 63,206 characters! Instagram posts look (and perform) better with fewer words, bullet points, and extra space between sentences.

2. Do You Want Links?

If you want to put a link in your posts, here’s what you need to remember: 

  • Facebook lets you put links in posts
  • Instagram allows links in the bio, not posts

When you want a post to direct people to click on a link, you have some extra steps to take with Instagram. For instance, you can put a link in your page’s bio and have the ad state that users can find it there. With Facebook, the link is front and center.

Notice that we’ve been talking about posts and not social media ads. Instagram will let you put a link in your social media advertising, but you have to pay for a sponsored post. 

You can put URLs in your posts, pics, and videos — it’s just that they won’t be clickable. This reality isn’t a problem if you’re using Instagram just for sponsored content, but if you want to engage followers with plenty of clickable links in regular posts, that’s not going to be possible. 

3. Posting Text, Video, and Pics

Let’s say you want to post nothing but text:

  • Facebook lets you make posts with just text
  • Instagram requires posting pics or vids — no “text only” posts

So if you want a text-only ad for some reason, Facebook is where it’s at for you. Of course, you probably won’t be doing much text-only social media advertising. However, there are differences when posting pics and videos, too. The main difference is text location.

Facebook puts text above videos, pictures, and links, while Instagram features text beneath your videos and images. This further highlights that Facebook aims for desktop users, and Instagram positions itself as the choice for mobile users. 

As for videos, keep in mind that you can choose the aspect ratio of your video. You can have:

  • Landscape: A 16:9 ratio for that cinematic look
  • Square: A 1:1 ratio that is, as the name implies, square
  • Portrait: A 4:5 ratio optimal for showing off subjects with visible text underneath
  • Vertical: Optimized for Stories, a 9:16 ratio that fills an entire mobile screen

Which is right for your videos? Again, it has to do with what platform you use. Landscape/16:9 would work better on a computer monitor, and Portrait/4:5 would be optimized for a vertical mobile screen.

4. Demographics

After all this discussion, you might come away with the feeling that Facebook is the superior social media platform due to its flexibility. Why use the more rigid and limited Instagram? It might have to do with demographics:

  • Facebook users are predominantly 25 to 44 years old
  • Instagram users are predominantly 18 to 24 years old

This market setup can offset the fact that Facebook has 2.9 billion monthly users while Instagram hovers around 1 billion. You might want to target ads to a younger audience who would expect to see ads on a mobile device. 

Additionally, you must remember that these aren’t static numbers. According to Hootsuite, Instagram’s ad reach grew by 20.5% in 2021, while Facebook’s grew by 6.5%. So Facebook may be larger, but Instagram is gaining.

So Which Should You Use?

Honestly, you probably should be on both. However, you should test ads on both platforms to see which one is working better for you. It might surprise you to find out where your audience is, especially if you have a niche product or service. 

If you want to make longer, more involved ads that work best on desktop, it sounds like Facebook is your choice. However, if you want to run ads that are primarily for viewing on mobile, then Instagram is the way to go.

Get Help from Get Visible

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We get that social media advertising can feel nebulous and vague. Making these choices isn’t always clear, especially when you feel like you need more information to make informed decisions. That’s why Get Visible is here for you! 

Our team has helped many businesses like yours transform their messaging and craft winning social media advertising on both Facebook and Instagram. If you’re confused about how to advertise on social media, get help from Get Visible today!

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