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What is the Difference Between Facebook and Instagram?

Posted by Patrick Sitkins on Sep 27, 2016 11:45:06 AM
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what is the difference between facebook and instagram

I recently stepped out from behind client accounts and created my personal Instagram. As usual, I'm typically way further behind when it comes to personal social media adoption. While I struggled with, "Do I need yet another platform to manage?", I finally caved. As I setup my account a question kept running through me head, "What is the difference between Facebook and Instagram?". My answer was weak at best. That inspired me to dive deeper into the platforms and give myself, as well as you, a good answer. 

First, as I've told clients for years, you don't have to be everywhere, but you need to at least understand what's available. No, not every company needs to be on Instagram, or Facebook, or even social media for that matter (very rare cases). However, you should at least explore emerging platforms to see if they could be viable for your business. Ok, let's dive deep...

First Things First

As with any platform, you need to really understand its purpose and understand what the users want. Think about it. Have you seen those people who are the "poster child" of LinkedIn photo fails? How about the person who uses far too many hashtags on every single post? How about the company that auto-posts the exact same message across platforms as well as with the key employees all at the same exact time? It annoys you, it's distracting, and it makes you think that these individuals and companies just don't get it. Sadly, there are many who think social is social and you should post, post, post as much as possible. Instagram, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. is its own unique platform. If Instagram was just like Facebook, then Facebook wouldn't have purchased it! Sure, there are some similarities, but the differences are what make them their own awesome network. 


Facebook still reigns supreme when it comes to its user base with 1.71 Billion (yes, Billion) active users. They also report that the average US consumer spends 40 minutes per day there. Here are some key functions of Facebook whether for personal or business use:

  • Link sharing
  • Curated Content
  • Multiple ways to engage
  • In-depth bio and personal/company information
  • Events
  • Groups
  • Live video

Facebook aims to connect its user base through sharing. It is a multimedia social network with a lot of great information, but also a lot of noise.

What is Facebook great for?

  • Sharing your original content
  • Sharing others content
  • Using different media
  • Connecting with different demographics
  • Promotion of events and content
  • Advertising


Instagram is all about capturing moments. Users interact with accounts in very different ways here than they do on Facebook. Some key differences:

  • Photo and short videos only
  • Focused on original content, not curation
  • Users want to see authentic content more so than on Facebook. Again, it's about moments not looking up business information or doing research
  • Limited ways to interact with accounts, however, engagement tends to be much higher
  • It's all about mobile
  • It's not about inspirational quotes, memes or funny things like eCards
  • It's not about games, or Kickstarter campaigns or trying to get people to donate to your kid's school fundraiser
  • It's about engagement and relationships
  • It's all about the hashtags
  • It's about being authentic and unique
  • It's all about the absence of clutter
  • The context is in the picture, not in the text (check out the picture from Chapman University. It shows this in practice and also shows the huge difference in engagement between the two platforms).

My Opinion...

At first, I was a bit sceptical, and honestly thought I'd delete my new Instagram account after a week or so. I was thinking the same thing you are probably thinking right now - "Why would I follow everyone and every company on another platform? It will be redundant.". What I've found is that most users understand the difference between the platforms, as well as most good companies, which makes Instagram a totally different experience. A few Instagram take-aways:

Personal Basis

  • I don't feel the pressure to "Like" companies or causes just to appease friends and family. No one can send me a request!
  • There is a lot less clutter since it is focused purely on images and short videos
  • There is more of a personal connection because, as stated above, it's all about capturing life's moments. Sure, people manufacture what you see, but it feels much more authentic out there overall.
  • I don't get angry! :) Without trending news, friends sharing links about The Kardashians, political rants, or shameless business promotions like before and after pictures, it makes going there a heck of a lot more enjoyable. 

Business Perspective

  • It's a tougher platform to really do well with
  • You can't hide behind sharing other's information or outsourcing and not caring
  • You have to get seriously creative if you want to build an audience, and build one who cares about you
  • You have a HUGE opportunity to crush your competition since so few are a) out there b) doing a good job 
  • You have the opportunity to connect with a whole new demographic
  • It allows you to flex your creative muscle and "loosen your tie" up a bit and have fun an a more informal setting

So, what do you think? Is Instagram for you? If you are out there, I'd love to connect.


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