If you are like most marketers, then

  • You use Facebook and Instagram because you are aware they are the top social media platforms in the world
  • You know both these platforms are important for your business
  • You’re not sure which one is a more effective sales channel

Here’s a look at how these two platforms can impact your ecommerce business conversions so you can make an informed decision as to which platform you should focus you’re advertising on.

Ad Objectives of Facebook & Instagram

As Instagram ads are run through the Facebook Ads Manager, the ad objectives of both platforms are the same.

  1. Greater awareness of business, product, app or service.
  2. Deeper consideration and understanding of highlighted products or services.
  3. Conversion from views into sales, mobile downloads, and/or visitors to a physical or online store.

Because the metrics for sales relate to conversions, we’ll focus on these. Below are the metrics Facebook has for conversions on Instagram and Facebook.


  1. Website conversions
  2. Dynamic ads on Instagram
  3. Mobile app installs
  4. Mobile app engagement

Quantifying Consumer Reach

Globally, there are 3.2 billion social media users. Facebook continues to be the leading social media platform with 2.2 billion monthly active users. Facebooks prized acquisition Instagram is quickly catching up, recently hitting 1 billion monthly active users.

Clearly, Facebook has a much larger user base. However, Instagram has a much stronger following. Instagram users are much more engaged and inclined to organically share content.

Compared to other platforms, Instagram actually has the highest audience engagement. Moreover, more than 80 percent of Instagram accounts follow a business as opposed to only 40% on Facebook.


The majority of Facebook users are millennials between the age of 18-29. However, Facebook has the largest percentage of users that are between the ages of 50-64. It is therefore the best option for reaching older users on social media.

Instagram appeals to a much younger demographic, with 71% of users under the age of 35.
Both platforms are more popular amongst women, with 77% of females and 66% of males are on Facebook.


Although a larger percentage of Facebook users log into Facebook daily, Instagram users are 10 times more likely to engage with brands compared to Facebook users.

For instance, Mercedes Benz put the same post on both Facebook and Instagram. At the time, Mercedes Benz had 12 million Instagram followers and 20 million Facebook followers.

The post got 169,000 likes and 568 comments on Instagram while it only got 12,000 likes and 504 comments on Facebook.

What this case study showed is that the larger Facebook has, Instagram has higher engagement, and there’s a reason for that.

Features for Shopping

The ability to link your ecommerce store to a Facebook page & shop that has shoppable products was introduced earlier on Facebook than it was on Instagram.

Shoppable tags allow users to click on tagged products and obtain further information or be re-directed to the companies website by clicking on a button.

This feature never really gained as much traction on Facebook as it did on Instagram.

Instagram clearly capitalized on the fact that the visual nature of the platform is brilliant for selling products. This is why, naturally, the direction that their headed in is to fully transform into a sales channel. This is evident in the announced native payments feature which some beta users can already register credit and make product purchases in-app.

It’s likely that the native payments feature which will be available for merchants using Bigcommerce and Shopify in the not-so-distant future.

CPC (Cost Per Click), Conversion Rates and Average Order Values

While there is a lot of variation in CPC in differing industries, audiences and individual countries, it’s good to know the average for all countries and the average in the country your advertising in.

CPC has been steadily rising on both Facebook and Instagram for years now. A year ago, the average CPC on Facebook was $0.97, while the average CPC on Instagram was $2.40.

Compared to Facebooks advertising costs, Instagram is one of the most expensive platforms to advertise on. However, when considering ROI, just looking at CPC doesn’t provide a comprehensive picture.

In order to have a better grasp of ROI, you need to look at conversion rates and average order values. If you have low CPC but you also have low conversion rates and order values, it doesn’t mean anything.

Because Instagram has such an engaged audience, it has higher conversion rates. It also has the 2nd highest order value out of all social platforms.


Determining which platform you’re going to choose depends on a variety of factors. We’ve focused on using both platforms as sales channels to sell products, which helps narrow things down a bit.

That being said, there are still variable factors to take into account, such as what product you’re selling and your target audience.

If you’re selling a physical product and you’re targeting people under the age of 30, Instagram is without a doubt the clear winner. If you’re selling less tangible products like courses to an older demographic, Facebook is probably the way to go.

What the future holds is never certain. Pinterest might take over or an entirely new competitor might appear on the stage, but in the foreseeable future, Instagram will dominate the social commerce game.