Social media ads give marketers advanced audience targeting options and reliable conversion tracking. Although Facebook is older and has a larger user base (2.07 billion monthly active users as of September 30, 2017, vs. Instagram’s 800 million), Instagram is steadily gaining popularity, especially with the heavy adoption of new features like Instagram Stories.

Instagram vs Facebook ads stats

If your brand is active on both Facebook and Instagram, the best approach is to activate ad campaigns on both networks on a campaign-by-campaign basis.

Marketers should…think beyond seasonal shopping moments and about how they can leverage Facebook and Instagram to drive online and in-store sales year-round.

-Nada Stirratt, Vice President of Global Marketing Solutions, North America at Facebook

But with a fixed or tight social media marketing budget, you may need to ask yourself where you should devote the bulk of your ad dollars: Facebook Ads or Instagram. The answer can be determined by identifying which platform will bring in the most revenue.

To identify the best social media platform for your eCommerce business, research these three main objectives:

  1. Reach
  2. Engagement
  3. Demographics

In this post, we will look at these three main objectives for both platforms in detail.

1. Reach


Instagram has 800 million monthly active users. This huge number of worldwide users makes Instagram a good bet for business and brand promotion.

Instagram also has stronger organic reach, a quality the network is intentional about preserving with newer features like the ability to follow hashtags and a “Suggestions for You” section, which shows posts that your friends have liked.


Facebook is one of the oldest social media platforms. It has a larger active user base compared to Instagram: Facebook has 2.07 billion monthly active users.

This makes Facebook the number one social media platform when it comes to reach, so if you’re looking to increase brand visibility without targeting a specific age group, Facebook may be the right choice.

Plus, Facebook does have a ton of ad targeting options. These are the options available for creating a new audience, which you can find in the “Audience” section of ad set creation on Facebook Manager:

  • Locations. Target ads to people based on locations (ex: country, state, province, city, congressional district, zip or post code). Most objectives let you target worldwide (type in “worldwide”), by region (ex: “Europe”), by free trade area (ex: “NAFTA,” the North American Free Trade Agreement) or by app store availability (ex: “iTunes app store countries”).
  • Age. Target ads to people within an age range.
  • Gender. Target ads to women, men or people of all genders.
  • Languages. Target ads to users of certain languages.
  • Detailed Targeting. Include or exclude people from an audience based on demographics, interests and/or behaviors.
  • Connections. Include or exclude people from your audience based on connections to your Pages, apps or events.
  • Custom Audiences. Custom Audiences are target audiences of people you already know. The groupings are created from information you provide or from information generated on Facebook’s products. You can create Custom Audiences from customer files, the Facebook pixel, the Facebook SDK, and engagement on Facebook.

A subset of Custom Audiences is Lookalike Audiences. A Lookalike Audience is a target audience you create from a “source.” It finds other people on Facebook who are the most similar to the people in the source.

You can include or exclude people in a Custom or Lookalike Audience from your target audience.

2. Engagement


70.7% of US businesses were using Instagram in 2017. 

emarketer research social media advertising

This is compared to 48.8% in 2016. Why are brands flocking to Instagram? Engagement.

According to Instagram, 80% of users follow at least one business on Instagram. As of March 2017, over 120 million Instagram users visited a website, got directions, called a business, or emailed or direct messaged a business.


Facebook engagement from organic posts may be changing, but the ad targeting opportunities on this network are huge. With ads, you can get very specific about the kind of engagement you are looking for.

Some examples:

  • The Oakland Raiders delivered special holiday season offers to fans with carousel and link ads, resulting in a 19X return on ad spend for their “Holiday Savings” headwear promotion
  • FabFitFun increased its click-through rate by 80% with Facebook ads’ Canvas + collection
  • Denny’s generated a 15% higher incremental reach by adding Facebook to their TV campaign
social media analytics banner

3. Demographics


A study conducted by Pew Research found that there are more female than male users present on Instagram. According to this study, 31% of women and 24% of men use Instagram on a daily basis.

The study also found that Instagram is highly popular among young adults between the ages of 18 and 29. Furthermore, 55% of the total internet users in this age group use Instagram. This proves that Instagram appeals more to a younger audience.


The same study by Pew Research found that Facebook attracts adult users of all age groups. Just like Instagram, Facebook has more female users than male users. Sixty-six percent of male internet users and 77% of female internet users are using Facebook.

The Pew Research study also found that Facebook is most popular among young adults within the 18-to-29 age group. Seventy-nine percent of internet users between 30 and 49 use Facebook. These statistics prove that Facebook reaches users of all age groups.

4. Should You Run Your Ads on Both Platforms?

After detailed research, you may choose to run your ads on both platforms. In that case, start by creating an ad campaign that can be run both on platforms.

Here’s why you should consider running your ads on both platforms:

Optimization: Your ads will be optimized on the basis of your campaign objective. By running ads on both platforms, your campaign will be optimized. This will show which platform is getting most of the attention. Accordingly, you will be able to analyze which ad on which platform gets the most clicks, and at what cost.

Simplicity: A recent Facebook study found that content that does well on Facebook also works well with Instagram. With Facebook allowing you to manage both Facebook and Instagram ads, you just need to select an objective. The objective of your ad will automatically select the right templates you need to run your ads on both platforms. Another good reason to run your ads on both platforms.

No Instagram Account Required: You can still run ads on Instagram if you don’t have an Instagram account. As explained previously, Facebook’s ad manager will help you manage both your Facebook and Instagram ads.

5. What Are the Costs?

A study by AdEspresso shows that the average cost-per-click on an Instagram ad is around $0.80. However, there are many factors that determine the cost of your Instagram ad. For example, there are different costs for every cost-per-click on an Instagram ad on the basis of user age groups.

adespresso CPC graphThe highest cost-per-click age group are18 to 24, 25 to 34, and 35 to 44. These are also the most valuable user age groups when it comes to marketing on Instagram.

Another AdEspresso study about the costs of Facebook ads found that Facebook has an average cost-per-click of $0.35. However, this is also determined by various factors.

Facebook ad pricing is governed by the time of the year when you are putting out your ad. For example, putting an ad out during the holidays will be a lot more expensive than on non-holidays.

The study also shows that advertising on Facebook is most expensive during the months of October, November, and December. Also, keep in mind that the cost of Facebook ads vary based on the hour of the day the ad is published. When planning a Facebook ad campaign, it’s good to keep some major things in mind–like which campaign to use, how it should look, etc.

Next Steps

Facebook and Instagram are both great platforms to grow your ecommerce business. Choosing the right platform completely depends on what you’re expecting out your campaign.

You need to determine your goals and expectations for your campaign. Keep in mind that both platforms are highly subjective, and each offers unique benefits and features. The right platform for you will be the one that suits the needs of your campaign.

Do you have any experience with either Facebook or Instagram ads? Let us know your experiences in the comments!