It’s the question that plays on the lips of marketers and the question that tickles your mind right before you upload that selfie: Facebook vs Instagram?
Since the death of Myspace (R.I.P all those embarrassing photos of you when you had a bad haircut), Facebook has been the internet powerhouse connecting you to thousands of people around the globe. Why it’s worked so well? Its simplistic platform has made it easily accessible for you to share your memories, thoughts and (too many) baby pictures, in amongst other fantastic features like instant messaging and really addictive online games.
Facebook peaked at the right time, with the hype and addiction surrounding the site beginning at the start of the ‘viral’ era, the stage where people were able to share things instantly online or through text message. It also aligned itself nicely with the release of the Apple iPhone back in 2007, meaning ‘apps’ were now a thing with smartphones. Facebook was one of the first platforms to jump on board to get users to take their newsfeed wherever they went in their pockets. Sidenote- how has it been a decade since the iPhone was first released?!
Having an instant messaging service in your palm goes to amazing lengths when you don’t want to spend money on phone credit, and simply want to message friends or family be they next door or overseas- say goodbye to those international calling fees. The ability to follow, like and support your favourite bands and celebrities through Facebook has only added to its ability to seem personal, fun and engaging- enough to bring you back to the site to see what’s been happening day to day. This is now referred to as FOMO, otherwise known as the ‘fear of missing out’.
Cue the entry of Instagram into the app world in 2010. The app had really cool features at the time, and allowed users to ‘filter’ their photos for the perfect overall ‘aesthetic’ look. The other bonus to the app was that it was a ‘photo sharing only’ kind of device, one of the first of its kind (how good, now you can totally scroll past your friend’s baby pictures and uncle’s annoying Facebook rants).
Again, fans caught on easily and Instagram grew its platform to millions of users worldwide. Along with Twitter, Instagram became famously renowned for its use of hashtags, which at first had all the older people asking why the # button was online instead of on the home phone. Hashtags were able to let users filter the enormous world of Instagram to find pictures they liked and wanted to see, and this feature separated users from scrolling down timelines of ‘seeing the same old statuses’ to being able to look, comment and follow users they could actually relate to, a feature that Facebook neglected to add for years to come.
Now, Instagram has turned photo sharing into a money making empire, allowing celebrities and even the average person to promote themselves on a business level. In amongst countless Instagram ‘celebrities, models and personalities’, businesses can also promote their services through the app. Instagram is great at recognising trends, and it quickly grew the platform to accommodate for ‘business profiles’, a regular profile that allows users to contact a business or promoter directly if interested in their products through web links or email.
Instagram has fast become a mass marketing tool. Think about celebs like Kyle Jenner and her lip kit range or hundreds of online personalities sharing teeth whitening products. These people are all paid to endorse products, look great and post a pretty image. And if it pays to be pretty, people will do it! As a result, thousands of online companies and businesses pay those with a large following to endorse their products with a mention of the product name and an almost-too-perfect picture of their offerings. And it genuinely works. Eyes play across business profiles, and those who are influenced or intrigued buy into the products and the process is repeated. If revenue is created, businesses will keep doing what they’re doing and will continue to turn to Instagram to grow their audience and bank accounts. Facebook lacks this reach from turning average profiles into popular business pages, and just doesn’t have the same power to influence the way that Instagram does.
From rival to roomie, Facebook bought the Instagram app for a few loose silver coins, coming in at around $1 billion in cash and stock in 2012. Since then, both Facebook and Instagram have teamed up to compete against rivals like Snapchat, adding the ‘stories’ feature to their apps and expanding their instant messaging services. Whilst both now living under the same roof, Instagram and Facebook have remained fairly separate in their services to ensure they don’t become too similar or familiar. They both have maintained their names and iconic features to stand alone as both apps and online capitals of the world.
So when it comes to the tip of the iceberg, do people favour Facebook or Instagram? I’m going to take a stand and say Instagram is unquestionably the social media heavyweight out of the two. Although Facebook takes the cake with statistics (1.86 billion monthly active users, versus Instagram’s 600 million), Instagram has grown immensely as a platform to cater for all individuals, businesses, celebrities and photographers alike. It has become the go to marketing service for product placement, promotion and awareness. Instagram’s ability to market to its audience has hit harder than Facebook’s targeted ads, and is quickly drawing in huge monetary figures as a result. Although Facebook might have the bigger number of annual dollars, in the short time Instagram has been around it has pushed hard and fast to become the ‘go to’ platform that celebrity figures and the average person turn to for their daily dose of inspiration, culture and ‘accidental influencing’ (a.k.a. not going on the app to purposely view ads, however somehow leaving the app experience with new knowledge of a product, fashion label or trend that was purposefully placed in your path).
Whatever your view, Instagram is without a doubt the mass marketing tool of our generation, with its biggest consumers now being the millennials and young people of the world turning to the app to be influenced by the worlds biggest, best and most popular. It’s an easy audience to influence and persuade, and with the click of the ‘like’ button, it’s easy enough to see what’s trending and what’s not. With new stars being born each day, Instagram offers the right platform to be yourself and put your best and most photogenic foot forward, and maybe if you’re lucky or smart enough, you might just be endorsed to be paid for what you do and make a living out of the app in the grip of your thumbs.
So let’s see where the interactive and ever-changing face of apps takes us in the near future. It’s an exciting and fun ride, and we’re all tightly holding onto our smart phones ready for the next big thing to take over.