How Instagram is Different than Facebook

When I tell people that I manage social media pages for a living, I often get asked, “What is the difference between Facebook and Instagram?” It’s usually in the context of how a business owner should use each social media platform, or whether or not a business should add an Instagram presence to their social media portfolio. At first glance, both sites look similar…photos with comments and hashtags. However, their objectives are quite different. Let’s take a look at how having an Instagram or Facebook page can help your business.

What is Facebook?

If you’re reading this post, chances are pretty good that you’re familiar with the world’s largest social media platform. Facebook is about connecting with your friends and following businesses that you support or are considering doing business with.

Individuals who want to connect on Facebook have to do so through a friend request, which then has to be accepted by the person receiving the invitation. In other words, connecting on Facebook has to be mutual.

Individuals and businesses can follow business pages without having to be approved. Just click the Like or Follow button and the business’ posts will show up in your news feed.

What is Instagram?

Although Instagram has only been around since 2010 it gained popularity very quickly.  Users can follow an Instagram profile without permission or approval from the profile owner.  For this reason, celebrities and public figures have accumulated thousands of followers (or millions, in the case of Beyonce, Ariana Grande, and others).

Instagram is a photo sharing service, meaning that every post contains a photo. Brands go to great lengths to optimize their Instagram feed with branded colors and consistent photography styles.

Facebook or Instagram: which is best for your business?

Whether or not Facebook or Instagram (or both) are right for your business really comes down to your objectives. If you have a retail store, a restaurant, or tourism company, these are all businesses that could benefit from both a Facebook and Instagram presence. Do you have to post the same content on each page? Not necessarily. Since Instagram is all about the photos, post pictures of things that have a good visual value. Facebook is more about information sharing, so you might post different types of content. Alternatively, you can use the same photo for each platform but caption it differently.

Instagram is more about discovery. Users can search hashtags to discover your business (the same is true on Facebook but to a lesser extent). Type in #StCroix or #USVI into Instagram and you’ll discover all types of posts, people, businesses, and photos from the island.  If you’re not sure whether Instagram is right for your business, explore a few hashtags for yourself and look for businesses that are similar to yours.

Facebook and Instagram Users

If you look at the demographic profile of Facebook and Instagram users you’ll see even more of a difference between the two sites. While Facebook users span the generations (and sometimes bridge the generation gap!), two-thirds of Instagram users are under age 35. If your target market is young adults, find a way to add Instagram to your marketing plan.

Whichever social media platform(s) that you choose for your business, remember that the #1 rule of social media is quality over quantity. Don’t post simply to post frequently. Give your followers content they’ll enjoy, and engage in…in other words, be social!

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