Going “viral” organically on Twitter or Instagram is hard these days, so running ads on both platforms is a necessity.
Your website needs traffic, and you’ll likely need to pay for that traffic.
But the cost of that traffic is always an issue. Spend too much—and the ad is a complete waste of time, energy, and money.
Twitter and Instagram are great platforms to run ads and drive traffic. But which one delivers the lowest cost per click (CPC)?
We will tackle that question (and find an answer) in today’s Social Media Lab experiment.
Falcon.io found the average CPC on Twitter to be much lower than Instagram:
Adstage found these average CPC for Twitter and Instagram for Q4 2019:
This data is a bit different from the Falcon data. Twitter CPC is still shown lower, but Instagram’s CPC is much higher.
All that conflicting data makes it confusing and hard to determine best practices in social media.
Keep in mind that averages such as these can be misleading and not applicable to every niche and industry.
The sources quoted above leaned towards Twitter having the lower CPC, so did all the other sources I could find. We’ll lean that direction for our hypothesis.
Hypothesis: Twitter ads have a lower CPC than Instagram ads.
Testing Instagram vs Twitter Ads CPC
Two ads as identical as possible will be run on Instagram and Twitter, both driving traffic to different blog posts for the Social Media Lab.
For Twitter, the ad budget and spend were €550 (euros). We advertise in euros because our company, and Twitter account, are based in Paris. Conversion rates change often, but at the time of testing, this equals roughly $600 US dollars.
On Instagram ads, we spent $520 USD.
For both Twitter and Instagram ads, we will limit to English language preference users and filter down to focus on the following countries/regions:
- United Kingdom (Great Britain and Northern Ireland)
- United States
Facebook Ads Manager (where Instagram ads are set up) targeting allows advertisers to drill down, ensuring your ad is targeted at those most interested in your ads’ content.
The Instagram ad targeting based on interests looked like this:
- Mari Smith
- Joel Comm
- Social science
- Post Planner
- Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn
- Kim Garst
- Sprout Social
- Social Media Examiner
Twitter doesn’t have as granular targeting as Instagram, but we did target these hashtags:
We also targeted followers of the @Agorapulse Twitter account and those that had recently engaged with our tweets. Additionally, we targeted what Twitter would consider a lookalike audience.
It should be noted, we were careful when setting up the Twitter ad, ensuring it wasn’t allowed to post on the Twitter Audience Platform.
This targeting option is turned on by default on Twitter ads with the objective of traffic. Basically, your ad is placed in lots of apps (primarily games) and users have to click the link in the ad to proceed to the next level or to unlock an app feature.
The Twitter Audience Platform is great if you are running ads for mobile app installs but horrible if you are driving traffic to a website or blog posts ad the users are not interested in your product or targeted.
Data Comparing Instagram Ads vs Twitter Ads
For each platform, we’ll look at these data points:
CPC will be our deciding factor as to which site was the most cost-effective at driving traffic to our blog posts.
- Impressions: 27,347
- Clicks: 393
- CPC: $1.33
- Impressions: 92,431
- Clicks: 522
- CPC: $1.20 (after converting to USD)
Twitter Ads Had Lower CPC
Twitter ads resulted in more impressions, more clicks, and lower CPC.SHARE THESE RESULTS WITH YOUR FOLLOWERS!Click To Tweet
This lower CPC by Twitter ads is 9.77% lower than Instagram ads.
In other words, Instagram ads had a 10.83% higher CPC.
Twitter racked up 32.82% more clicks on a 15.38% higher ad spend.
With a lower CPC Twitter ads wins this Social Media Lab battle–or does it?
Factors to Consider When Comparing Instagram Ads to Twitter Ads
Yes, Twitter ads cost less per click than Instagram ads, as expected, but that doesn’t mean they are always better.
Due to much better targeting options on Instagram, our ad possibly was seen by higher qualified users on Instagram.
When comparing ad costs some default to CPC, others to CPM (Cost Per 1,000 Impressions). CPM allows you to see how popular your ad was to those users on each platform.
A higher CPM can actually be a good thing. This could mean the ad was more appealing, consuming your ad budget faster.
For this experiment, Twitter had a CPM of $6.49, while Instagram’s CPM was $19.01. That’s a massive difference!
So, what do we do with these numbers?
- If you’re purely looking for more traffic, focus on a lower CPC.
- If you’re looking for higher qualified traffic and more conversions, expect a higher CPM.
Because this Social Media Lab experiment was all about driving traffic to blog posts at the lowest CPC, we still conclude Twitter was better.
However, if we were tracking conversions to free trials, or selling a product Instagram may have been the better option.