According to the 2016 Sensis Social Media Report, 69% of Australians now use social networking sites, with 57% accessing social platforms every day.

That goes without saying to a degree – people use Pinterest to post images and Twitter to post opinions – but there’s more to it than that, and as such, Facebook recently conducted a study of their key social platforms, Facebook and Instagram, to get a better handle on the different approaches people take to each.

And their results reveal some interesting considerations for those using the platforms for marketing purposes.

Now and Then

The main finding of Facebook’s report was that Facebook better satisfies people’s need for recognition and connection, while Instagram more strongly fulfils their desire for relaxation and discovery.

Put in more actionable terms – Facebook’s more about who you are, Instagram’s who you want to be.

Such a distinction is crucially important for marketers because it speaks to the mindset of each audience – while all social networks have some level of crossover in terms of connecting with friends and family, those personal, connective posts are going to be more resonant on Facebook, whereas on Instagram, people are looking for creative images, ideas and subjects.

This was further underlined in the topic-specific portion of the study – on Facebook, the top five content types users seek relate to these categories.

  1. Family and Friends
  2. News
  3. Humour Accounts
  4. Music
  5. Food

Whereas on Instagram users are looking for:

  1. Family and Friends
  2. Celebrities
  3. Fashion
  4. Travel
  5. Beauty

As you can see, while the main topic cancels itself out by being prominent on both, the others provide some great insight into what people are using the two platforms for.

Data in Action

Stemming from this, marketers looking to utilize either Facebook or Instagram have a few considerations to keep in mind.

Firstly, on both, your audience reach is going to be limited because the priority of users is to see content from friends and family - of which your brand is likely neither. This means you may have to pay to boost your reach, but it also means you need to be mindful of potential limits. Both Facebook and Instagram now have algorithms in place that which are designed to show users more of what they want, and that means less marketing focussed material.

But the data also shows that users on Instagram, in particular, are seeking brand-related content.

On Facebook, where organic reach has continued to drop for brand Pages, you can see from the listing that that’s because users are largely looking for non-product related updates. But that’s not the same on Instagram – “fashion”, “travel” and “beauty” are all very product focussed subjects.

This likely means the impact of the algorithm (which was only introduced recently) will be less than some had feared.

Marketing Focus

In addition to the potential impact of algorithm filters, this data provides some additional guidelines as to what your followers want you to share on each platform, and what content they’re looking to discuss and share content about.

On both fronts, this is great information to have.

Knowing what subjects are of most interest to your audience can provide additional pointers as to how you should frame your marketing efforts on each platform and/or which might be better to use for your business.

Understanding what the audience on each platform is talking about, meanwhile, can help guide you towards the conversations that matter to your business – knowing that Facebook users are looking to discuss “food”, for example, you can conduct searches on the subject and see what foods, specifically, they’re talking about. If those discussions relate to your business, that could be a good opportunity for you to join in the conversation or write a post related to that noted audience interest.


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