Facebook vs. Instagram: How You Should Treat Them Differently


Disclaimer: Since Facebook and Instagram share the same advertising platform, your targeting is theoretically the same. That said, this post is more about how people use each platform differently and how you can modify your advertising efforts to account for that. Also, I own shares of FB so don’t call the FTC on me.

The Feed

Historically, Instagram has featured a strictly chronological feed. People love it, but times they are a’changin’. The Instagram feed now runs on a very simple algorithm that places emphasis on popularity as well as time while also inserting ads into your feed. So while this used to be a big difference in the Instagram and Facebook platforms, as time goes on we’ll see more and more convergence here.

Content People Consume

This is the core characteristic that separates social media. Pinterest has carved out a niche in recipes and crafts. Twitter focuses on live news/events. Facebook and Instagram are both large enough to span basically all content types, but thanks to surveys done by Ipsos Connect (commissioned by Facebook), we have a pretty good idea what content is consumed proportionate to other types of content. Behold:

As you can see, this is measuring the type of content people interact with most. This isn’t the stuff they just scroll past. What do we learn?

  • Celebrities are a much bigger deal on Instagram – Hence the success of Instagram influencer marketing.
  • Acquaintances are less prominent on Instagram – This is partly due to the relative youth of the platform, but also testifies that Instagram is more intimate and personal since acquaintances aren’t as big of a deal.
  • Close friends and family are still the main driver of both networks.


Most of the time, you’ll hear people talk about how Instagram is the choice of Millennials and Facebook is for their parents & grandparents. What’s the truth?

As we can see, Instagram has more Millennials across virtually all types of content. So there is truth to the belief that Instagram skews to the younger crowd. However, notice also that Celebrities, Fashion and Style skew VERY heavily toward younger crowds. So if your brand fits one of these categories and you’re not utilizing Instagram, you’re way behind already.

Say you’re a B2B marketer? Then you’re probably better served using Facebook to leverage their surprisingly potent B2B targeting options.

Are you running Instagram or Facebook ads? How do you advertise differently between the platforms (if at all)? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!