Which to use to maximize your advertising dollars

Guest post by Nicole Rose Dion, Estipona Group


Since Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, Instagram users have seen a steady increase in paid content in their insta feeds. Gone are the days of a pure Instagram feed and a polluted Facebook feed. Now there are ads all over both platforms. Insta-nnoying, amirite?

On average, I probably see about one sponsored post for every 10 organic posts on Instagram and about one per five on Facebook.

Since everything is in one vertical scroll on Instagram, you’re bound to see the sponsored content with blue call to action (CTA) like this “DailyOM” post as you’re scrolling through.


On Facebook though, it’s not so simple. There are desktop vs. mobile ads (Instagram is mobile only) as well as newsfeed vs. sidebar ads.

Then they both have regular ads vs. boosted posts.


It’s all kind of confusing

Earlier this year, I posted something on a brand Instagram account and shared it to Facebook from the mobile app. Once it shared to the brand Facebook page, my client boosted it for $20. I logged on to the Instagram app later that day and saw I had received more than 100 likes on the image I posted earlier. I was floored because that’s WAY more engagement than we usually get. I went to look at the post in our profile and saw only 20 likes on the image. Wait, what?

Turns out, I had two of the same Instagram posts floating out there, one organic (the one I posted) and one paid (boosted from Facebook) both competing for attention from the same audience. Ugh!

So clearly there’s a right and a wrong way to advertise on Facebook and Instagram. But what’s the best way to do it? Which platform should you advertise on? How are they different? The following is a quick guide to help you navigate this new landscape.


What’s the difference between a Facebook ad and an Instagram ad?

Facebook and Instagram ads look pretty similar. They both have a piece of content, caption of some sort and CTA.

What makes them different is the following:

  • The analytics you can gather from each
    • Facebook is WAY more detailed and connects well with Google Analytics thanks to Pixels.
  • The type of content you can sponsor
    • Instagram is photo / video only, Facebook can do those types plus links, slideshows and carousels of images, direct messaging and more.
  • Audience / targeting options
    • Facebook is WAY more detailed because they gather more information about you.
  • Consumer engagement
    • Each platform is slightly different. On Instagram, users can like and comment on a paid post. On Facebook, users can like, give an emotional response (love, wow, haha, sad, angry), comment, share and like the brand page all from the individual ad. Check out this “Nesting Place” Facebook ad below. It has a live link, caption and photo all in one, which is something you can only do Facebook right now
    • On Facebook, (no matter what type of ad you run) if someone likes your post, you can then go in and invite them to like your page, therefore accomplishing a few goals in one ad. On Instagram, although you cannot invite them to “follow” your Instagram page, you can go in and engage with the people who have liked your post (if their profiles are public, that is).

IMG_6431  IMG_6432  IMG_6433

How to only advertise on one platform or the other

Right now, if you start an ad campaign on Facebook and your ad meets Instagram criteria, it will be automatically advertised on Instagram as well. If you don’t want this, you’ll need to change the ads manager settings in Facebook for “placement.”  It’s important to remember to change your placement for boosts too, as Instagram is an automatic placement for your boosted posts.

You can also advertise solely on Instagram as a business account. To do so, you’ll need to either start the ad from the Instagram app or specify this from the Facebook ads manager in placement. Unfortunately, starting with the Instagram mobile app is not as sophisticated as the Facebook Ads Manager. For example, it will automatically grab your main Facebook payment method and you cannot change it. Since I work for a company that manages many brand advertising accounts and therefore credit cards, this is not a good option for us.


Which type of ad is best for my brand?

Not all ads are going to be successful on both platforms. And just because something performs well on Instagram doesn’t necessarily mean it will perform well on Facebook and vice versa.

When creating the ad, start with the purpose. What do you want to accomplish? Build awareness? Promote downloads? Increase sales? Generate leads?

Then, create the content with the platform in mind. As social media managers, sometimes we have control over the content of the ad; sometimes we don’t. If you can help it, tailor your content to each platform’s audience, and have a specific message for both.

In my experience, users on Instagram are looking for eye-catching imagery / video content, and if your ad doesn’t fit in with that, it won’t be successful. On Facebook, you can get away with a more complex message.

I’ve yet to see one of my clients have a successful sales campaign on Instagram, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist — just that Facebook seems to be the larger driver in the social sales advertising arena. In my experience, an Instagram ad that I ran for a more established brand performed much better than an Instagram ad I ran for a brand just introducing itself to its target audience.

But if you’re wanting to drive brand awareness and increase your followers, Instagram ads are for you. Just make sure your content is beautiful and authentic.


In conclusion

If you’re in the business of getting as detailed as possible with your ad targeting and proving ROI for your clients, investors or colleagues, then Facebook ads are a good option. Using ads to build your brand reach and awareness on Instagram is great, but you’ll have a harder time reporting it. Instagram is growing fast, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they build up their advertising capabilities to be as robust as Facebook. The app is changing constantly, so make sure you check back and continue testing its capabilities.


Nicole Rose Dion is Client Services Manager at Estipona Group and a freelance graphic / web designer in Reno. Follow her on Twitter @nicolerosedion and connect with Estipona Group on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and subscribe to their newsletter.