Where Instagram and Facebook advertising converge and where they differ
Can your Facebook successes be replicated on Instagram? Columnist Brad O'Brien takes a look at the similarities and differences between the two platforms and what it all means to marketers.
As of last count, Instagram had 500 million monthly active users and (already) more advertisers than Twitter. Combine that with a bunch of capabilities and targeting options the platform inherited from Facebook, and it’s clear we’re looking at a burgeoning advertising powerhouse.
About that overlap with Facebook, though — how is it manifesting so far? Where has Instagram advertising shared almost 1:1 takeaways with Facebook advertising, and what are some key differences in the platforms that advertisers must take into account?
Where they converge
We’ve seen a few pretty easily replicated successes from Facebook to Instagram. These include:
• Concise messaging. Although the messaging itself might need to be adjusted for each platform (more on that below), brevity of messaging — short and to the point — has worked as well on Instagram as on Facebook.
• Top creatives. You can absolutely repurpose top-performing Facebook creative on Instagram. It may require some adjustments for the form factor, but don’t reinvent the wheel. If it works well on Facebook, it will work on Instagram, as the platforms share the same targeting.
Repurposing best Facebook ad images means Instagram ads are drawing on stated impact and intent and memory and recall, as well as likability and relevance.
• Best-performing ad types. Okay, so this is a bit speculative, because dynamic product ads and video for Carousel ads — two of Facebook’s highest-performing ad types — aren’t on Instagram yet.
But the good news is that they’re on the way soon, and our Instagram campaigns have already proven that video and Carousel ads are, separately, strong options.
Where they differ
Perhaps surprisingly, this list is as long as the list of similarities. Some of this is due to the different audience composition; some might be traced to Facebook’s greater maturity as a platform. But the following is important for advertisers to note:
• Mobile is even more paramount on Instagram. Yes, mobile has grown to represent the lion’s share of Facebook’s ad revenue — but it’s 100 percent of Instagram’s. The landing-page experience in Instagram advertising must be 100 percent mobile-optimized to give advertisers a shot at high conversion rates.
(Pro tip: When you have identical audience segments on Facebook and Instagram, take note of where they’re converting better, and use this to guide budget between the two platforms on mobile.)
• Performance metrics don’t always line up. Our clients have often shown better click-through rates on Instagram ads, but we frequently see lower conversion rates — which often tie back to a poor landing-page experience.
When the experience is optimized for mobile, we’ve seen that conversion rates can approach those of Facebook’s, but overall, conversion rates have lagged a bit.
• Instagram users respond to different CTAs. Some reports have placed as much as 90 percent of Instagram’s user base under the age of 35. That’s staggeringly young, and it also means that the audience as a whole has slightly lower purchasing power than Facebook’s more evenly aged audience.
It’s the reason “Learn More” and “Sign Up” have proven to be more effective for our clients than a direct call to buy something; the Instagram crowd is more focused on engagement than purchase.
What it all means
If we’ve taken anything from our early Instagram campaigns, it would be that while there’s a boatload of developing potential to tap in the platform, there are few cut-and-paste Facebook advertising initiatives that wouldn’t benefit from a little Instagram-specific tweaking.
Rest assured, though, that any company advertising on Facebook — thanks to data on targeting, segmentation, and top creatives — has a huge head start on ROI-positive Instagram campaigns. Keep an eye on releases to come, make sure to tailor your conversion goals to fit your audience, and always remember to test before assuming that what works on one platform will work on the other.