At Storyclash, we noticed that more and more of the interactions generated by the big players in social media are coming from Instagram, whereas before they came mainly from Facebook. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s consistently used social media over the last ten years (there’s a reason Facebook acquired Instagram, after all), but the data highlights some interesting suggestions as to how users have evolved into a more photo-oriented digital population. Are people becoming less and less interested in reading content, leaning instead toward rapid image and video consumption on streamlined platforms?

Facebook Interactions in Flux

Don’t let this article misinform you—Facebook is still the world’s leading social network when it comes to total user base, active daily users and global popularity. But taking some specific data sets into consideration, what we see is a statistically significant swell in recent Instagram engagement compared to its bigger older brother. To better understand this situation, it’s not only important to know what drives interactions on these services but what affects them as well. That which defines “social interaction” has come to a head in the complicated present-day social media framework, and the strain is starting to show.

In Facebook’s case, it’s possible that the social network’s interaction numbers have been impacted by the latest iteration of its News Feed algorithm. This past January, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg shined a worrisome spotlight on the imbalanced duality of the social network’s News Feed, one which revealed a noticeable proclivity to featuring branded content over posts made by users’ friends. If you missed our last blog post—Facebook’s New Chapter—it’s worth circling back to read how Facebook is attempting to set this right and what the bold maneuver might mean for brands, agencies and businesses. In a nutshell: the site plans to scale back branded posts in order to bolster more “meaningful social interactions” on Facebook, those that happen between friends.

With Zuckerberg’s implementation of these changes beginning to rev up, it’s certainly not a stretch to assume that many businesses will soon switch their marketing focus to apps which haven’t yet curtailed branded content… and Instagram is at the top of that list.

Reasoning Out the Data

Brands might have an unusual taste in their mouths after experiencing first hand how Facebook’s News Feed change will affect their business, prompting a reactionary exodus to the warm and familiar alternative that is Instagram. Top brands, however, are already using Instagram and have been for awhile. Reports show that, as conveyed in the chart below from 2015–2017, the youth demographic of social media prefers Instagram to Facebook—a key factor in the popularity of each app. Generation Z is the user base of the future, and it seems that at this moment in time they prefer posting and liking pictures rather than tinkering with text-heavy status updates.

facebook instagram

It’s easy to see why Instagram has garnered the attention and bias of today’s youth. It is straightforward and uncluttered. Instagram is easy to use and its mission statement is crystal clear. From the very moment you open the app, you see a picture or video and are tasked with one actionable question: do you like it enough to click on the heart? Click, scroll, repeat. It’s this intuitive, lightweight, uncomplicated experience and Facebook is essentially none of these things. On Facebook, content can be displayed in many different ways and there are just as many different emoticons you can use to interact with these posts. Throw in sidebars, menu tabs, chat windows, etc. and it becomes glaringly apparent why Facebook’s appeal can slip right through its UI/UX.

Insights Powered by Storyclash

So you’ve seen data published on the internet from the last couple of years, but what about recent data? We crunched some Storyclash numbers and found the results to be consistent with the reports above. Pulling up data from this past December, Facebook social media interactions for The Financial Times—a popular international newspaper which specializes in business and economics—totaled to over 100,000 by month’s end. Keep in mind that this not only includes ‘Likes’ and ‘Shares,’ but all the different interactive emoticon options as well. Their Instagram social engagements came in at well over double that amount: approximately 260,000 comments and likes combined.

It should be noted, however, that these quick numbers aren’t a blanket reflection of the entire social media spectrum but rather a calculated sampling of one of its many corners. Further probing uncovers additionally consistent results—rather than measuring monthly quantities alone, if we zoom out from December to a year-long perspective and focus our attention on overall trend patterns through 2017, our Storyclash archives show even more media outlets going the way of Instagram. For instance, German-language equivalents of the publication mentioned earlier might be slower to adopt to Instagram, but there are a few select standouts whose social interaction trajectories are ahead of the curve.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), a very well-respected news publisher in Germany, exhibited an overall increase in their Instagram engagement numbers while their Facebook engagement totals clung onto a somewhat stable average during last year’s 12-month period. Süddeutsche Zeitung, another acclaimed German news source, experienced a similar increase for Instagram interactions due in part to a soaring autumn spike. That said, their Facebook interaction totals took a sweeping nosedive over the course of 2017, an outcome which is distinctly evident when looking at the data’s visual representation alongside that of FAZ (seen below).

We’re curious to see how this information evolves throughout 2018, so we’ll keep an eye on things… As with any trend, it’s only a matter of time before everyone else catches on and Facebook—as a result—eventually gets outpaced!

Should You Switch to Instagram?

With all this data in favor of Instagram social interactions, incorporating Instagram into your social media strategy is a no-brainer. If you aren’t already on Instagram, get on it—there’s no harm in allocating resources to posting quality content on Instagram and the upside is full of fruitful potential: research shows that social engagement drives site visits, so if you’ve built a decent follower base on Instagram then your posts will more than likely bring traffic to your website. If you’re already on the app, consider giving it more of your time. Don’t drop Facebook altogether—there are still plenty of advantages to keeping up your Zuckerbook content strategy and the two apps actually collaborate well together.

We know that running a proper social media strategy can be time-consuming, especially if you’re layering it on top of marketing and customer service (as you should be). Make sure to allocate your time and energy wisely; whether you’ve got an entire unit of employees to help you out or you’re a one-person team with a social media intern, the most important thing to remember is that balance is key. Gather data from your posts and figure out which social network your specific audience prefers to interact with (maybe you have several different follower demographics who engage on different social media platforms).

Having both social networks at your disposal will be key to navigating the future of social media, but you can take it one step further and apply a secret weapon to your content tactics: Storyclash. With our in-depth social media tracking and content discovery features, you’ll have everything you need to craft an all-encompassing social media presence and become an internet triple threat… Use Storyclash Insights in combination with Instagram and Facebook to scout your own social interactions as well as those of your competitors!

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