Facebook vs Instagram vs Snapchat

Gilad Bechar
Gilad Bechar 27 April 2021
Facebook vs Instagram vs Snapchat


This post was originally published in October 2019 and was edited in April 2021.

Facebook vs Instagram vs Snapchat. The debate rages on, and we often get asked which platform is truly the winner when it comes to mobile app promotion on social media.

So, which platform is the Demon of Downloads, the Inspiration of Installations, the King of Conversions? Read on as we explore which platform is the winner when it comes to smashing your mobile app promotion goals.

Facebook vs Instagram vs Snapchat

The Platforms

Lining up each social network against the other is a study in the biggest names in the business, with billions of dollars in advertising revenue. Facebook is the “OG”, and still boasts incredible statistics when it comes to ROI. The popularity of each platform changes between the generations, with Instagram generally the go-to for millennials and Gen Z, and Facebook more popular among a slightly older demographic. Snapchat’s audience is generally younger than Instagram’s. Instagram has the added advantage of allowing advertisers to really showcase their app’s uniqueness thanks to the platform’s focus on imagery and video.

With Facebook owning Instagram, there are additional synergies to be enjoyed and the difference between facebook and instagram marketing is becoming less. Their advertising algorithm can be used to optimize for key metrics (e.g. CPI) to ensure that the right mix of ads is shown on both platforms.

All of this needs to be taken into account when deciding which platform is the winner for your mobile app install campaign. Or could it be more than one?

Advertising on Facebook vs Instagram vs Snapchat

Mobile app promotion on social media is not for novices. There are so many intricacies and nuances that it’s no wonder there are whole mobile agencies out there dedicated to one particular social media platform. Let’s look at each platform:

Why Use Facebook for Business?

How many people use Facebook? An incredible 2.8 billion monthly active users (how many of those Instagram accounts for is hotly debated) means that when it comes to reaching a wide audience, Facebook still has what it takes. Advertising through Facebook also gives you access to Facebook’s Audience network. So if you’re asking yourself why use Facebook for business, you now know why. 

Facebook App Launch
Facebook App Launch

When it comes to app installs, Facebook offers a variety of options and features that are really powerful:

Mobile App Install Ads

Direct users straight to the relevant App Store with mobile app install ads. Using the “App Installs” advertising objective, you can reach users across Facebook, Instagram, and the Audience Network, and make it easy for them to download your app. These ads link directly to the Apple App Store, Google Play or Kindle Fire store. You can also optimize the delivery of your app installs ads for specific metrics that you set up, such as app installs, app events or high-value customers.

Facebook even offers playable ads that let people play your game before they actually install your app. There are few better ways to ensure a low churn rate (a bad thing for your app) than giving users an opportunity to try before they buy…or download for free. 

App Engagement Ads

Boost app engagement with these powerful ads from Facebook. Using “Traffic” or “Conversions” advertising objectives, you can drive app engagement for users who already have your app. Strong app engagement is a positive for your app’s ranking in the app stores. The Traffic objective brings users back into your app, and the Conversion objective drives specific actions such as making purchases or playing a specific level. Again, these can be optimized for clicks or daily unique reach.

You can also boost your Facebook marketing with custom calls-to-action. This enables you to promote your app through your Facebook Page’s business profile. Show off screenshots and videos, benefits and use a custom call-to-action button like “Shop Now” or “Play Game” to direct your visitors into your app. 

Facebook Ad Tips

  • Use a split test to maximize ROI
  • Targeting is super important: Facebook lets you target according to categories like device, OS, demographic factors and interests
  • It also lets you target users based on factors like segment, level of activity, and purchase amount

So are Facebook ads worth it? Absolutely. Facebook is one of the kings of social media marketing apps.

Why Use Instagram for Business?

As a platform, Instagram-user statistics are super interesting:

  • Instagram now has over on billion monthly active users
  • Over 60% of users log in daily, making it the second most engaged network after Facebook
  • 37% of United States internet users are now on Instagram
  • 71% of Instagram users are younger than 35

These Instagram statistics say a lot about the types of apps that are likely to be successful with the platform. For many users, Instagram is the way they discover new products and apps. That should speak volumes about the benefits of instagram marketing.

So, in terms of Instagram vs Facebook for business, the mechanics behind Instagram ads are similar to those of Facebook. However, you’ll want to optimize specifically for Instagram and understand how things like a post can be leveraged for app installs. App installs are most powerful within Instagram stories (full-screen vertical ads appear between Instagram user stories).

Common questions we often get asked are “Is Instagram better than Facebook”? Or “What’s the difference between Facebook and Instagram?” The truth is that you can have your cake and eat it too. By setting up your ads with enough creatives optimized for each platform, you can get the most out of both Facebook and Instagram marketing, and start optimizing for the channel that gives you the best results. You can also brand on Instagram which can be a powerful tool in your mobile marketing arsenal.

Key Optimization Areas

  • Video ads should be high resolution with no black bars (“pillar boxing”)
  • For images, more than 20% text can reduce delivery
  • Carousel ads are an excellent way to boost app installs
  • Consider Instagram Explore as an alternative way to boost installs
  • Multiple calls to action are supported, such as “Install Now” or “Use App”

Are Instagram ads worth it? 100%. We hope we’ve highlighted the biggest benefits of Instagram marketing for you.

Why Use Snapchat for Business?

Depending on your target audience, Snapchat could be the perfect place to advertise your app. With over 330 million people with a Snapchat account, you don’t want to be missing out here. To promote an app on Snapchat, it’s worth keeping a couple of things in mind.

Snapchat has made app-install campaigns really easy from a user perspective. One swipe opens an embedded App Store or Google Play Store page, after which the user taps again and the app installs in the background.

Snapchat gives the following tips for app install campaigns on the platform:

  • Showcase key metrics to demonstrate the value of the app
  • Feature a person using the app
  • Showcase the app UX
  • Use the creative to showcase what the user can expect from the app
  • Feature a single-minded message from the opening frame
  • Add a visual or a voice call to action that is relevant to the app and its value proposition
  • Try to align the voiceover content to the call to action (the audio should say ‘Install’ or ‘Install Now’ if you plan to use the INSTALL_NOW call to action and vice versa for DOWNLOAD)
  • Educate Users as to what the app does visually

The basics for Snapchat are similar to those of Facebook and Instagram: use the platform’s strengths to grab and engage users and pass them elegantly down your funnel while eliminating any points of friction.

Winning on All Platforms

There are a few imperative moves you should be making across any platform you’re using to promote mobile app installs:


Standing out on any of these platforms is tough. Eye-grabbing creatives can ensure that users take notice of what you’re offering, and can be a powerful multiplier when it comes to optimizations across key metrics. These should be used to encourage users to take action.


At some point in your campaign, the user you’ve worked so hard to get is going to land on your listing on the App Store (generally speaking Google Play or Apple App Store). This is a crucial moment in your funnel, and your ASO (App Store Optimization) has to be at 110% in order to ensure that the user completes the installation process.

We can’t emphasize this enough. When it comes to winning with mobile app downloads, especially on these social media platforms, you have to be continuously measuring and optimizing. This is the secret that separates good campaigns from great ones.

2021 Updates: IDFA

The industry has taken dramatic turns in 2021, most notably with tightened privacy regulations leading to the effective cancellation of IDFA. IDFA stands for the Identifier for Advertisers and is a way for apps to track user data across other apps and websites for the purposes of targeted ads. It’s similar to a cookie.

In 2021, Apple made it so that all users must give permission – upon first downloading an app – to be tracked across other apps. When you’re faced with such a question, it’s quite likely most people will deny permission. Previously, advertisers and apps didn’t have to request permission. This update has been drastic for the industry. Without targeted ads, how will they move forward?


What’s the difference between Facebook and Instagram for business?

Considering both are owned by Facebook, there are many overlaps in the way they work. However, there are many differences too. Firstly, their demographics tend to differ – with Instagram attracting a much younger audience than Facebook. That can impact your choice as a business of which platform to advertise on. If your target users are older, Facebook may be more valuable, or vice versa with Instagram. 

What’s more, the content you’ll find on Facebook is often repeated and shared, as opposed to the content that tends to fill Instagram feeds that’s often more original and creative. To keep your ads the most effective, you want them to feel appropriate for the platform. That’s why it’s important that your Instagram ads are much more in-line with this original, authentic aesthetic. That’s absolutely key to getting potential users to trust you.

Instagram vs Facebook users, how do they differ?

As touched upon above, the demographic of social media users differ across platforms. Where Facebook users tend to be older than Instagram users, Snapchat users tend to be even younger. Instagram users crave authenticity and original content, whereas Facebook users may be more used to repeated content or content from only people they know. Snapchat doesn’t offer the same “timeline” or “news feed” as the others, so users are less likely to spend time scrolling down. 

Why use Instagram for business?

Essentially, one of the best things you can do for your business is to target users where they’re already hanging out. With over one billion monthly active users, Instagram is certainly a hotspot of the last decade and it’s only growing. Instagram ads can appear in-between stories or in a user’s news feed, so they can often adopt the authentic feel that’s required to be successful on the platform. 

Instagram is also a great place to build brand awareness. By advertising on Instagram and having a business page, you’re doubling up on the visibility to increase the chances of Instagram users knowing your brand and its offering. 

Why use Facebook for business?

Similarly, Facebook has billions of users globally, so it would be remiss to disregard its marketing potential for your business. Facebook ads have been around for a long time, so there’s a plethora of data analytics that can help you on this front. 

Facebook vs Instagram vs Snapchat

So, who’s the winner? (suspense-filled silence…)

From what we’ve seen with our clients, who are spread across multiple industries and continents, each app type naturally has a platform that will hit it out of the park for them. So the winner for you will depend largely on your mobile app type – whether it’s a game or utility-type app, what kind of game, etc. – as well as other factors such as your goals and budget. 

To find the perfect social media platform to turbocharge all your key metrics for your mobile app, get in touch with us. Our award-winning, unique strategies leverage the best of each platform to ensure you get the most value possible for your ad spend, and ROI that will blow you away.

To find out more about how to get the most out of Twitter ads, we’ve got you covered here.

To reach out, just drop us a line.


Gilad Bechar
Gilad Bechar
Gilad Bechar is the Founder & CEO of Moburst. Gilad serves as a mentor to rising startups at Microsoft Accelerator, The Technion, Tel-Aviv University, Unit 8200 and for strategic Moburst clients, and is the Academic Director of the Mobile Marketing and New-Media course at Tel-Aviv University.
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