Instagram has grown into a core piece of publishers’ revenue and branding strategies. But the photo-sharing platform is more important to small publishers than it is to the publisher ecosystem as a whole, new Digiday Research reveals.
Despite having fewer resources to devote to creating content for social platforms in general, large percentages of small publishers — defined as those that generate $10 million or less in annual revenue — post frequently on Instagram and invest resources in creating content specifically for the platform. And more than two-thirds of them say that it is at least somewhat important in driving revenue, a significantly higher share than publisher respondents as a whole.
In late May 2021, Digiday conducted a survey of media and marketing professionals and how they used and viewed social media platforms; 127 publisher professionals participated; 44 respondents said they worked for publishers that generated $10 million or less in annual revenue.
The survey found that Instagram was one of three most commonly used platforms among publishers, along with Facebook and Twitter.
Almost three-quarters of small publishers posted to Instagram in the past month, compared to 93% that posted to Facebook and 80% that posted to Twitter. Those percentages were slightly lower compared to the survey’s publisher respondents as a whole: 95% of them said their employers had posted to Instagram, 94% to Facebook, and 99% to Twitter.
Among those that have posted to those platforms, 37% say they invest at least a moderate amount in creating content specifically for Facebook, compared to 50% for Instagram.
Through its history, publishers have treated Instagram, which has traditionally been inhospitable to their traffic-driving efforts, as a tool for brand-building and engagement. And large chunks of respondents still see it serving those purposes.
Among the respondents that post content to them, 50% say Facebook is valuable for brand-building, compared to 66% for Instagram; among publishers as a whole, 64% say Instagram is valuable for brand-building, while just 57% say Facebook is.
Yet as Instagram has expanded, first through Stories and more recently with Instagram TV and Reels, it has become increasingly important as a revenue-driver for publishers of all sizes. Among small pubs posting there, 70% say Instagram is at least somewhat valuable for driving revenue, compared to 60% who said Facebook is at least somewhat valuable; for both platforms, only small percentages — 10% and 18%, respectively — said the platforms were extremely valuable for driving revenue.
Those numbers diverge sharply from publishers’ responses overall. For publishers as a whole, 76% said Facebook is at least somewhat valuable and 62% said Instagram is at least somewhat valuable.
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