Comparing and Contrasting Facebook and Instagram

Comparing and Contrasting Facebook and Instagram

Two social media sites that are very popular today are Facebook and Instagram. While both offer users the ability to upload content and share it with followers and friends, the two differ in many ways as well. This paper will use the following criteria points—1) ease of use, 2) content, 3) appeal, and 4) originality—to compare and contrast Facebook and Instagram and show why even though Facebook may have more registered users, Instagram is the better site according to these selected criteria.

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The first point on this list of criteria is ease of use—and in this category, Instagram wins. Facebook was not designed as a mobile app in the beginning, though it has transitioned well to being an accessible site on handheld devices, smartphones and tablets. Instagram on the other hand was designed and still is an online app made for smartphone users. It was never intended to be anything more—and for that reason it was always an easy to use site that one could quickly access and use as it was intended to be used—for sharing image files.

The second point—content—puts both sites in different camps in terms of which has more to offer. If one believes that less is more, Instagram is the clear winner. If one believes that more is actually more, Facebook comes out on top. Facebook now offers a wide range of content—from uploads by users, followers and friends, to games, to news, to—now—a dating/matchmaking service that allows users to “find the one,” Facebook has become a website that offers much more content than Instagram, which is still mainly just a site that allows you to snap and edit pics on your phone, share them with a tag or caption, and move on. In the content area, Facebook has much more to offer, but, again, if all you’re looking to do is have fun taking pics and sharing them, Instagram is definitely a cleaner option—though the site now allows you to upload and edit video files too (so it is growing in terms of content).

The third point—appeal—is a difficult one to judge because both sites are very appealing to users. But, as Buck notes, “Instagram’s calling card is the photo filter,” which has a strong appeal for amateur photographers using their smartphone as a camera. The fun filters on Instagram allow them to spruce up their pictures and share them with friends without having to go through any of the routine contextualizing required on Facebook. Instagram’s appeal is the idea that people just like looking at photos anyway, so cut out all the other stuff and give the users what they want—pictures; lots and lots of pictures. Facebook does more—and to the extent that people like to see others’ timelines and view lives from a distance, it has a different kind of appeal. Facebook is more than just pictures; it is a way for people to connect. Old friends can message one another and catch up through the site; new friends can scroll through a user’s timeline to see what sort of adventures they’ve had in the past. Comments are encouraged and people can post on one another’s walls. Facebook is much more like an online community—a village of social media site users, whereas Instagram is more like a fun door through which social media users can escape to do what they like doing best: snapping pics, slapping a filter on them, and sharing them with the tap of a button.

The fourth point—originality—is all Instagram’s. Facebook wasn’t the first social media site, and while it became the biggest, it did not do anything that was mind-blowingly original. It served as a platform where people could connect. MySpace had already done the same thing by the time Facebook came around; Facebook was simply better at doing what MySpace intended initially: it was cleaner, easier to use, and simpler in scope. Instagram, however, was another story: it was completely original in the sense that it never had any intention of being anything more than a way for people to take pictures, spice them up with fun filters, and share them. It never had any pretentions about being a place where people could connect and build an online life. Its only and purpose was to give people a way to share photos easily and instantly in a fun way. Instagram may not seem like much in terms of concept, but it actually was a fairly original idea just from the sheer point of simplicity—and it has stayed that way, which is why it is still so popular among young people, while Facebook, on the other hand, is viewed as something that young people’s aunts use (Cuthbertson).

In conclusion, Facebook and Instagram are similar in many ways: they both allow users to upload pics and share them; they both allow users to connect with others and follow friends—but Facebook also promotes the idea that users can do a lot more through its site, while Instagram is content to leave it at that, to give users a way to create unique photos with fun filters and share them. Both are easy to use, though Instagram is easier because it was designed to be a mobile phone app and thus is not very complicated, while Facebook has numerous options for users in terms of exploring content and things to do on the site. Because Facebook offers so much more content, it is a much more all-encompassing experience to use its site, whereas Instagram just sticks with photos primarily—which is also what gives the site its appeal (especially for those who view Facebook as for old people). Instagram may not seem like much in the way of originality, but it really does offer something unique and simple that no other site has ever approached: it is the best way to take and share photos without all the politics and drama that surrounds getting on Facebook and being part of that online community.

Works Cited

Buck, Stephanie. “The Beginner’s Guide to Instagram.” Mashable, May 29, 2012.

Cuthbertson, Anthony. “Facebook is Officially for Old People.” Newsweek, Feb. 2,



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