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Instagram vs. Facebook: Which Platform is Better for Promoting My Products?

Social media is a constantly changing creature, it’s hard to stay current on the best way to market your products and beat the ever-morphing algorithm. Thus, your promotion strategy has to be flexible so you can make the most of how social media algorithms are working at the time. In this post, we’ll walk you through how to determine which social media platform will help you make the most shirt sales.  And if advertisements and boosted posts are a part of your promotion plan, going through this process will help you maximize your marketing dollars. 

Getting to Know the Algorithms on Each Platform

Facebook and Instagram have evolved away from their original chronological structure, now using algorithms to determine what comes up next in your feed as you scroll. The algorithms are constantly being tested and changed, but here are some findings of how each platform prioritizes what posts are seen.

Instagram’s Algorithm

Instagram is a highly-visual platform and incentivizes users to post visually engaging content. With Stories, it’s also easier than ever to share content created by others with your community. But how does Instagram’s algorithm know what content to show you at the top of your feed? Let’s take a look.

Engagement 

Posts that get a lot of hearts, comments, saves, and shares within the first few minutes of something getting posted get bumped to the top of your feed.  

Connection

Instagram tracks how often a user interacts with posts by other accounts. Thus, if a user likes every photo posted by a certain account, Instagram knows to bump any content published by that account to the top of that user’s feed. 

Time Posted

Chronology hasn’t been completely disregarded by Instagram, it’s just been bumped down the line a bit. The most recent posts that meet these other requirements are still shown first before older posts.

People over Businesses 

One of the reasons Instagram pushes accounts to classify themselves as a Business or Creator is so that Instagram’s Algorithms can approach those accounts differently. Overall, it’s more likely and natural that Personal accounts will have higher engagement rates than businesses because people care more about people than brands. Thus, posts by businesses you love will likely follow behind posts by the people you love.

The biggest point to keep in mind with Instagram is that the most engaging content will always win out. So, strong visuals and building a community that cares about what you share is super important when trying to maximize your reach on Instagram. 

Facebook’s Algorithm 

Facebook’s algorithm is all about relevance. Their algorithm works to show what posts and ads they think are the most relevant to you, the user. There are number of factors their algorithm considers to determine what’s the most relevant. Let’s explore which of these factors are the most important for you as you prepare promote your products.

Family and Friends over Businesses

Similar to Instagram, Facebook will put content by people above content by brands and Facebook pages. Facebook wants to limit the free reach of branded content because it would prefer for companies and organizations to pay to boost posts, instead. So, even if you like and comment on the content of your favorite pages, there’s still no guarantee you’ll see every post published by the pages you follow.

Engagement

Posts that are getting a lot of likes and comments get pushed to the top of news feeds. A great example of this in the wild is that every engagement or other big life announcements typically ends up as the first thing you see when you log on to Facebook.

Conversation Starters

To take the engagement point a bit further, content that starts to gather a lot of comments and replies in comments will also gain traction on Facebook. This is often how viral posts are born, and also why posts that often go viral are also posts that have a controversial or multi-viewpoint angle.

Page Reach is Limited

If you are an organization or company with a Facebook page, you’ve likely noticed that your engagement rate and reach of content has dropped significantly over the years. You’ve also probably noticed that even your most devout community members aren’t seeing the important information you publish on your page. This is because Facebook is working to monetize everything they can, so your page now has to pay in order for content to be seen by larger portions of your community.

Visual Content

People don’t want to read these days, and thus, eye-catching images and engaging videos have taken the prize in the Facebook sphere. Posts that include images typically get bumped higher in the news feed than text-based posts.

Marketing Content Lockdown

As mentioned a few times already, Facebook posts by businesses or even individuals that are selling something or promoting a good or service are pushed to the bottom of the newsfeed, and oftentimes not even shown at all. Facebook wants people who are selling things to pay to boost posts and run ads, so, unfortunately, they aren’t very incentivised to give away marketing for free.

Main Takeaway for Facebook

If you’re a business or organization with a Facebook page, you’re likely going to have to pay to play. Take note of the organic reach your posts are getting, and don’t assume that just because someone “likes” your page, that they’re seeing your content.  If you are looking for more information on how to maximize Facebook Boosted posts, we walk through all of that and more here.

Evaluating Your Strengths on Each Platform

Now that you know a little bit more about how Facebook and Instagram Algorithms work, it’s time to evaluate which social platform makes the most sense to pour time and possibly money into in order to drive sales. There are a few different points to make note of when assessing which platform will work best for you.

Audience Size 

Take a look at the size of your community on Facebook and Instagram. If one of these platforms has a significantly lower following than the other, then this step is simple. Your effort should be in equal portions to your follower count, so prioritize the platform with more people on it. If both social platforms have significant follower counts (in the thousands), then keep moving through these points to determine which platform to prioritize more. You may even find that you should give equal attention, effort, and money to both.

Audience Age

What is the age of the target audience of your campaign? What is the median age of people already in your community? If your audience is mostly people in their 40’s and older, Facebook is likely a great tool for you. But if your audience is in their teens, 20’s, and 30’s, Instagram is probably going to be really important for you, because this age group are the power users of Instagram.

Engagement Rate

Take a look at the content you’ve posted on both platforms. What is your average engagement? If your Facebook gets more likes and comments on content than your Instagram, that means you’re reaching your people in a more impactful way on Facebook. 

Budget

What does your promotional budget look like? If you have funds to put toward boosting posts, this could be a good direction for you. But if you’ve found that you need to do the best you can for free, you’ll likely need to put in a little extra thought and effort into how to get your message in front of the right people. 

Photographic Assets

Excelling with promotion on Instagram requires a stellar collection of your products. You can’t simply use a single image over and over again. If promotional imagery isn’t an area of strength for your business or organization, you may want to promote more heavily on Facebook, or invest in creative collateral to use to promote your products and tell your story.


After assessing where you stand on each of these points, you hopefully have a better understanding of not only which platform is your strongest, but also which platform will likely be your best sales converter. And keep in mind, it’s possible that neither of these will be your top performer.

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