The Facebook and Instagram Ad Toss-Up

It’s a question that most brands with a limited social media advertising budget face on a regular basis: when it comes to advertising on social media, is it better to lead with Facebook or Instagram?

While the two platforms have a broad overlap in users, the specific interactions and demographics of audiences on either are vastly different. In the same way, there are several advantages – and disadvantages – to leaning with one platform over the other. Here’s a guide to understand the difference between advertising on Facebook compared to Instagram.

Ad Management 

Ads on both Facebook and Instagram can be managed through a single location, on Facebook’s Ads Manager. This makes it easy for digital marketers to select a number of different audiences and placements, and the platform makes it easy to manage campaigns and download the results. 

There are, however, several key differences between managing ads on the two platforms. The campaign manager on Facebook provides a host of options for managing objectives, ad sets, and the ads themselves. Users can test a range of combinations, and preview all the available ads.

Things are kept much simpler on Instagram. With such a few taps of a finger, digital marketers can have an ad set up based on an existing post or story. For brands not bothered with understanding a campaign at a micro-level, the easy interface of Instagram campaign management is a great choice. 


Another major decision that marketers need to make is understanding which platforms are best used to reach certain audiences. If the goal of a particular campaign is to generate new followers or fans, then understanding target demographics is crucial: the demographics of Facebook users cover a huge amount of ground, while the demographics of Instagram users are typically younger.

Moreover, audience targeting on Facebook is a more detailed process than its counterpart on Instagram. Targeting options on Instagram, on the other hand, are nicely streamlined and perfectly suited to rookie marketers.


Brands planning a campaign should also take stock of their existing content. Have photos or videos been taken specifically to perform as ads, or is it better to merely boost the visibility of existing posts?

Facebook and Instagram offer very different content types and interactions. Facebook provides a range of ad types, from scrollable Carousels, to single media posts, to existing posts that can include links a brand has already shared. On Instagram, brands are not able to utilize links in captions; instead, they need to rely on call-to-action buttons to invite follow through.

Ultimately, when planning a social media campaign, brands need to focus on their goals. Activity on Facebook tends to revolve around connection with family and friends, and sharing informative posts and links. On Instagram, activity is more aesthetically-motivated; news articles rarely perform well, unless they are paired with a great graphic, photo or video.

Success with social media advertising tends to rely on a combination of planning, analysis, and a dash of luck. Brands that are committed to evolving their strategies will always enjoy more success in the long-run.

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