Facebook vs. Instagram Storytelling: What Works Best For Ecommerce?

Main image credit: Pexels

This is a guest post by Victoria Greene, whose author bio will be at the end of the article.

Gone are the days when a social advert was enough to interest your ecommerce customers.

In an online world of trending topics, ‘most talked about’ celebrities and continual sharing, businesses need to embrace storytelling to create conversations, appeal to their buyers and transform shares and likes into purchases.

But which social media channels are the best way to engage your customers and how do you know which one is right for your business? Here, we put social media giants Facebook and Instagram to the test...

Why we love a good story

From classic novels to the next big action-adventure movie, people have always been drawn to a good story.

In the modern world, this fact remains, and as we sign up to more and more social media experiences (and connect with friends, family and strangers across all corners of the globe) we love to hear more about the weird and wonderful and share them with our treasured online communities.

Among the top viral posts on Facebook in 2017 were heartwarming stories of Mexican bakers supporting the victims of Hurricane Harvey after the floods and Garth Brooks giving his guitar to a fan suffering with cancer.

In a world of fake news and terrible tragedies, online users look to social media to find stories to make their world a little bit brighter. And it’s no surprise that the most successful marketing strategies now also utilise social media storytelling to hook their customers and get their products shared and talked about too.

So, how do you get your business to become one of the most talked about things on social media, and which channel is best for you?

What can my ecommerce business do on Instagram and Facebook?

Before we go into detail about the differences, let’s look at the marketing similarities between the two. Both Facebook and Instagram are run by the same people, so it’s no surprise that they offer very similar marketing opportunities. These objectives can be found across both Facebook and Instagram:

  • Brand awareness

  • Reach

  • Traffic

  • Engagement

  • Dynamic product ads

  • Conversions

  • Lead generation

  • Video

The two also integrate, making it possible for you to tailor and share campaigns across both. However, there are subtle differences between the two that you need to consider before implementing your storytelling marketing strategy.

Let’s talk about Facebook

With 2 billion users a month (and counting) Facebook is the big daddy of social media. With its personalised news feed, users can connect with friends and family from around the world, and comment and share on status updates, links, photos, and videos.

Your brand probably already has some sort of Facebook presence, but are you taking full advantage of the marketing opportunities it has to offer?

Who uses Facebook?

As the most popular social networking in the world it’s no surprise that Facebook reaches a broad range of people. According to the Pew Social Media report:

  • 88% of 18–29 year olds use Facebook

  • 84% of 30–49 year olds use Facebook

  • 72% of 50–64 year olds use Facebook

  • 62% of 65+ year olds use Facebook

In fact, roughly 79% of internet users log into Facebook worldwide, which means you can target a whole range of people all in one place.

credit: Pexels

What’s the best way to advertise on Facebook?

Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that going forward, Facebook will make posts from businesses, brands and the media less prominent in their users’ news feeds.

Instead, the network will focus on posts that, “spark conversation and meaningful interactions between people”. Essentially, it doesn’t matter if your business page has 2,000 likes or two million. If your content isn’t interesting, your audience won’t see it. So what do businesses need to do to succeed on Facebook? Here are a few easy ideas to get you started:

1. Be more human

We live in an age of information overload. With one quick Google, we can find out anything from the length of the Great Wall of China to the size of Kim Kardashian’s waist, and as a result, audiences want to know more than ever.

They want to know where the products they buy come from, who makes them and the story behind the brand. However, with so many pop-ups and ad spots online, audiences are turned off by obvious advertising in their feeds, so businesses need to offer their audiences visual marketing that delves deeply into what makes them unique.

Introduce your customers to the people behind your brand and create content that your target audience can’t help but like, share and comment on. Engage with their interests, respond to their comments and build your very own dynamic online community.

2. Lights, camera, action

After having a quick scroll through your own Facebook feed, one thing becomes obvious – video is definitely a big deal. The most talked about and shared Facebook content is often video, with the average user reportedly spending just shy of two hours a day watching videos online.

This is one area where Facebook has a huge advantage over Instagram. On Instagram, you can only post a video of 60 seconds max, whereas Facebook allows videos up to a maximum of 240 minutes, giving you plenty of time to craft some amazing content.

3. Experiment with live video

Don’t have the budget for a stunning video campaign? Don’t despair! Live video is another area that’s on the rise, with live videos receiving of average six times as many interactions as standard videos.

As a general rule, audiences don’t expect polished perfection from live videos. What they value is the honesty and authenticity of the broadcast and insight it provides. So if your brand happens to be backstage at a major event or unboxing an exciting new launch, go live using just your phone – your audience will love a behind-the-scenes look at your business.


Let’s get into Instagram

It was back in 2010 that this primarily mobile, photo-sharing social tool burst onto the scene. Instagram allows users to create their own profiles and post inspirational photos or video snapshots from their daily lives. You’re also able to follow friends, family, celebrities and social influencers and ‘like’ their photos on your feed.

In 2016, Instagram launched their ‘stories’ feature, which allows users to upload photos and videos that stay online for just 24 hours and tend to feature more casual, less-curated content.

Who uses Instagram?

With a focus on an aspirational aesthetic, it’s no surprise that Instagram has a younger, more trend-led audience than Facebook:

  • 59% of 18–29 year olds use Instagram

  • 33% of 30–49 year olds use Instagram

  • 18% of 50–64 year olds use Instagram

  • 8% of people 65+ use Instagram

However, with an ever-growing audience of 800 million users a month, this network requires a well-planned ecommerce marketing strategy too.

What’s the best way to advertise on Instagram?

As a photo-sharing tool, Instagram is all about beautiful visuals. In fact, if you don’t have gorgeous images to share, then you’re going to struggle to get noticed.

Unlike Facebook, you can’t post direct links to your website in the organic feed (except in stories), however Instagram does have a Shopping Ad format, which allows you to create a mini catalog of products for your audience to click on.

What’s the best way to utilise Instagram for ecommerce marketing? Here are some top tips:

1. A picture is worth a thousand words

Whole brands have been built off the back of a striking visual concept on Instagram. Think about what makes your business unique, and create gorgeous images that match your brand ideals.

credit: Unsplash

2. Go behind the scenes

However, Instagram it isn’t all about the photos. As with Facebook, Instagram is focusing more and more on video, with short, snapshot videos becoming a useful way to share new information about your business.

Choose whether to share photos, video or live video directly to your audience. Again, users expect this medium to be less polished, so experiment with behind-the-scenes video, live interviews and introduce your customers to the human face behind your brand.

3. Your products in action

Instagram is the perfect place to share examples of your products in-use and you can even get your audience to do some of the work for you. By creating a user-focused hashtag, you can encourage customers to post their own images and then pick the most relevant to share on your feed – easy content that everyone will love!

Facebook vs. Instagram – who wins?

Both Facebook and Instagram have the own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to ecommerce, and which one you choose to prioritise depends largely on your brand.

Facebook is the social media behemoth that allows you to share a wide variety of storytelling content to a whole range of people, but has increasing limitations on promotional reach. Instagram has a younger audience, but with a focus on gorgeous visuals, you need to have a strong brand aesthetic in mind before you begin to tell your story.

Ultimately, you need to decide on your own business objectives and work out how to use the strengths of each platform to meet your targets. Remember, audiences love stories that are creative, passionate and authentic and will only engage with content that they can’t help but share. As Seth Godin rightly says,“marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell”.

About the Author:

Victoria Greene is a writer and brand consultant for the ecommerce industry. She writes at Victoriaecommerce. Big lover of great words and my pet pooches (not necessarily in that order!). Currently developing my own stores.

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