Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Marketing, Social Media

Should I run my ads on Facebook or Instagram? Both?

As a business that may not have large funds allocated for digital marketing or just getting your feet wet with newer forms of marketing, you want to make sure you’re stretching your dollar as much as possible.

Before discussing the 3 points that will help you make a more informed decision on Facebook vs. Instagram, we’ll go through a bit of background information.

Demographics on Facebook

  • There are over 2 billion users on Facebook worldwide. This can give you an idea of how popular this platform is in America.
  • About 80% of adults between the ages of 18-49 own a Facebook Account.
  • On average, people check in on Facebook about 8 times a day.
  • More than half the users of Facebook in America use a language besides English.

For more stats, you can visit here.

Demographics on Instagram

  • Instagram has over 1 billion users worldwide. While that’s only half of the users on Facebook, there are plenty of active users on this platform.
  • Similar to Facebook, about 80% of owners of an Instagram account fall within the ages of 18 to 45. About 12% make up the age group above 45.
  • United State is the global leader of Instagram users with the number at 120 million people.

Generally, the number of users are expected to continue to increase for all age groups. For more info on the demographics, you can find it here.


There are 3 criteria that I address before deciding to go one direction over another.

  1. Who is my target audience and where do they spend most of their time on social media?

This can vary depending on the brand, products, and services of my client. Generally speaking, I would push harder on Instagram for a clothing brand that’s targeting males in the 18-24 age group. For a local business that’s targeting the area nearby, the decision is decided upon the results I get from the initial run of my ads.

The rule of thumb for me is to do both in the beginning and let Facebook Ad Manager help me decide. This can not only save you time and some headache, but it can also help you become more aware of the shifts in user demographics over time, especially since things are shifting rather quickly. If you have used Facebook Ad Manager before, you probably noticed there are different placement options (e.g. Audience Network, In-stream Video, etc). To see if there’s an opportunity in other forms of placement, it could be worth a try. In that case, you want to leave the placements as “Automatic Placements (Recommended)”.


  1.  What type of content is being pushed out as an ad and where is it most appropriate?

This is an important point to keep in mind as consumers tend to react differently on different platforms. Part of the explanation for the difference is based on the expectations that users have on platforms.

Let’s think about how we use Facebook vs. Instagram ourselves. Personally, I use Instagram to keep up to date with the shifts in street fashion and what my favorite influencers are promoting in terms of lifestyle hacks. On Facebook, I read articles published by the media network I follow and watch long-form videos relevant to my interests. The key difference is how I interact with the content and my expectations of the content that I want to see. This decides what type of ads that I would react to on the respective platforms.

Simply put, the context is different, and we need to make sure we are pushing ads that are in line with the context of the platforms. A good example is the type of content that’s more appropriate on Linkedin may not suit well on Instagram (or vice versa). That’s not to say an ad with the same goal cannot exist on different platforms. We just need to make sure the adjustments are made to fit the platforms more appropriately.


  1. What is the overarching goal of the ad campaign?

Depending on the goals of your ad campaigns (lead generation, brand awareness, or direct sales), we should be more thoughtful about where we place our ads. This point ties in with the two previous points.

Would someone be more likely to fill out a form on Facebook or Instagram? Is it more likely that my target audience will see the content on Facebook or Instagram?

While these questions may lead to a general conclusion, you may have some idea of cost per action (click, fill out a form, make a purchase, etc.) prior to the ads running depending on who you’re targeting. For a younger audience, it will cost more to get the same number of actions on Facebook than on Instagram because of the points made before.

However, this can largely depend on the quality of the content and the type of content as well. Because there are loads of variables to consider, I generally run on both platforms and try to gauge the reaction from a small budget and make my adjustments going forward.


Final Points

Hopefully, this helped you make sense of your decision making when it comes to running ads on two of the biggest platforms available today. Facebook has a neat system in place that takes care of the decision making for the most part when deciding which platform to push harder, but sometimes when we are on a tighter budget, optimizing our ads to spend more on the platform that’s getting better engagement can help.

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