Instagram vs Facebook: Comparing Audience Sizes

Instagram vs Facebook: Comparing Audience Sizes

With the continued rapid growth of Instagram, advertisers who formerly used Facebook exclusively are now beginning to consider Instagram as a viable platform for their marketing efforts. Having recently passed the 1 billion active user threshold, the potential for reaching an audience on Instagram is clearly becoming more impressive, and there are probably a great many business people who have begun wondering whether the potential audience is larger on Facebook or on Instagram. Fortunately, there are a number of useful tools which can help determine this, and it only takes a little bit of time and effort to figure it out.

Why audience size is important

When planning out your ad activities and placements, it’s normally much more advantageous to pay attention to the specific objectives of the campaign, as opposed to using audience size is a guideline. However, when you’re creating a campaign specifically targeted for Instagram, all other considerations can be left behind. Although Instagram is certainly much easier to use as an additional marketing and advertising forum than ever before, it may still be to your advantage to create campaigns specifically for Instagram.

Instagram vs Facebook: Comparing Audience SizesThis is especially true when you plan to use some of the newer features offered on the platform, such as Instagram Stories. You can certainly install static images in your Stories which can be effective, but you’ll probably achieve a better performance level by including more dynamic assets such as 15 second videos which appeal to an audience. By comparing audience sizes between Facebook and Instagram, you’ll gain a better understanding of how each platform can help you meet your objectives.

How to access audience sizes

The first step in accessing audience size is to create a dummy campaign, which will help you to gain an understanding about a specific target audience. To do this, log on to Facebook and navigate to Ads Manager, and click on the Create button which appears at the far left of the screen. That opens up the Quick Creation screen, and you can leave all the default settings in place before proceeding. Give the campaign a name which identifies it as a test case, so that you won’t accidentally go live with it, and then click on the Save to Draft button.

This will take you to the second tab, where you see the Ad Set View. Scroll down the Creation window until you arrive at the Audience area, which is where the target details can be entered. In the Custom Audiences area, choose a location and an age group, for example Buffalo New York, and people aged 35 to 55. The platform will tell you under the Audience Definition view what the potential reach is for your campaign, in this case 1,500,000 people.

You don’t have to be concerned with the Estimated Daily Results information, because those figures are based on an account history, budget, and schedule, and we are more interested in the base audience figures. That figure of 1,500,000 people is based on default placements which include Instant Articles, Marketplace, Facebook Feeds, Instagram Stories, and a few other placements from Audience Network and Messenger. You can find out which placements are comprising the audience figure by clicking on Edit Placements, and that will show you all the different placements that are providing input to the overall audience figure.

How to select a specific platform for your audience

Instagram vs Facebook: Comparing Audience SizesNow that you can see all of the possible placements which are contributing to your target audience, you can select or deselect individual placements to see just how many individuals each feed is contributing. If you were to select Facebook feeds and deselect all other placements, you would see that the Facebook feed placement is contributing 1,100,000 users to the target audience of people aged 35 to 55 in Buffalo New York.

Now, you can deselect the Facebook feed and choose only the Instagram feed to see how it compares. In this case, that figure shows up as 775,000 people. It should be remembered that these two figures are not necessarily exclusive of each other, and that there will definitely be some people who appear in both feed groups. If you really want to, you could find out exactly how many people are in either of the two specific feeds.

By subtracting the Facebook feeds number from the combined figure, you would have a number which represents only those people who are available from the Instagram feed. In this case, that would mean subtracting 1,100,000 people from the combined amount of 1,500,000 people, which would give you an exclusive Instagram feed count of 400,000 people. Likewise for the Facebook count, you could subtract the Instagram feed count of 775,000 from the overall count of 1,500,000, to arrive at a Facebook feed total of 725,000 people.

Extending the concept

This approach can actually be used to compare any two placements in your overall campaign, and the process can be extremely helpful for gaining an accurate understanding of the audience size using any particular platform. As opposed to trying to make an educated guess, this approach is far more accurate and far more useful to your marketing initiative. As a reminder, after you have acquired the information you’re interested in regarding the placement figures, be sure to click on the Discard Draft button, so that you don’t inadvertently press the Publish button.

At present, determining audience size is one of the chief benefits to be derived when trying to compare Facebook and Instagram benefits. It’s very possible that Facebook will be sensitive to the needs of advertisers in the future, and install more tools which will allow you to gain audience insights. These could be invaluable in trying to gain a better understanding of the differences between users, so such information could be used in marketing and advertising initiatives. For now though, understanding how large your audience size is can be very helpful, because it can provide useful information about how to prioritize your efforts, and it will probably give you some good ideas about how to develop ad content most effectively.

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Heather Hart

Heather Hart

Operations Manager at $99 Social
Heather began working with $99 Social in April 2014 as a content writer, but quickly moved into a customer support role, then to Operations Manager in May of 2017. She loves exploring different artistic mediums, including copywriting, drawing and painting, website coding, and helping people succeed.

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