September 18, 2023 • 5 min read • By Julia Tabisz
This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series →
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After learning that publishers may be cooling on Facebook, Digiday+ Research has discovered that the other side of the Meta coin is a much different story. Things are actually heating up when it comes to publishers’ use of Instagram, and if things keep trending in the same direction it’s possible that Instagram could even surpass its sibling social media platform.
A Digiday+ Research survey of about 200 publisher professionals found that the percentage of publishers that are actively using Instagram has been trending upward over the last two years. This year, 91% of publisher pros said their titles had posted content to Instagram in the past month, up from 86% last year and 84% the year before.
That 91% is the same percentage that said their titles posted content to Facebook in the past month. This could indicate a significant shift, considering that publishers’ use of Facebook has dropped as their use of Instagram has risen — now meeting in the middle.
As more publishers report posting content on Instagram this year, Digiday’s survey also found an increase in publishers that said they’re posting content on Instagram every day. In fact, the percentage of publisher pros who said they post on Instagram every day surpassed two-thirds this year (69% said this), after holding steady just under two-thirds (at 64%) last year and the year before.
This is a stark difference to how publishers told Digiday they’re using Facebook this year: Digiday’s survey found that the percentage of publisher pros that said they post content to Facebook every day is actually trending downward. A high percentage of publishers still said this year that they post on Facebook every day (73%), but that’s down slightly from the 74% who said so last year, and it’s down significantly from the 85% who said so the year before.
And Digiday’s survey found that all publishers are posting on Instagram with some kind of regular cadence. Not one respondent this year said they post content on Instagram less frequently than once a week. (Thirty-one percent of publisher pros said this year that they post on Instagram at least once a week.)
Interestingly, Digiday’s survey found that publishers are spending less on creating original content for Instagram this year — which is further evidence that the group as a whole is doing a better job at making the platform work for them as they post more often but spend less doing so.
More than two-thirds of publisher pros (39%) told Digiday this year that they invest just a little in creating original content for Instagram, up from 28% last year. Meanwhile, the percentage of publishers that said they invest a lot in creating original content for Instagram fell from more than a quarter (26%) last year to only 18% this year.
It is worth noting that 29% of publishers still said they spend a moderate amount on creating content for Instagram. At the same time, 14% said they spend nothing at all on original content for the platform.
One area where publishers are investing in Instagram is paid advertising. Digiday’s survey found that publishers are spending a lot more on Instagram advertising this year than they did last year.
To be exact, 61% of publisher pros told Digiday this year that their titles purchased advertising on Instagram in the past month. That’s a big jump from the 46% who said the same last year.
A real testament to publishers’ feelings toward Instagram is how they view the platform as a revenue driver. Digiday’s survey found that Instagram’s value as a revenue driver for publishers has grown significantly since last year.
Eighty-three percent of publisher pros told Digiday this year that Instagram is at least somewhat valuable to driving their revenues. That’s compared to the 62% who said so both last year and the year before.
At the same time, the percentage of publishers who said Instagram is extremely valuable has trended upward since 2021. Eighteen percent of publisher pros told Digiday this year that the platform is extremely valuable to driving their revenues, up from 11% last year and 6% the year before.
Digiday’s survey found that Instagram is now a big brand builder for publishers, as well. Just as the platform’s role as a revenue driver is trending upward, its role in publishers’ branding has also been trending upward over the last few years.
Eighty-six percent of publisher pros told Digiday this year that Instagram is either valuable or extremely valuable for branding. That’s up significantly from the 76% who said the same last year and even more so from the 64% who said so the year before.
Looking a bit more closely at the data, the percentage of publisher pros who said Instagram is valuable to building their brands (as opposed to somewhat or extremely valuable) surpassed half this year. Fifty-four percent of publishers told Digiday this year that Instagram is valuable for branding, up from 42% last year and 37% the year before.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that Digiday’s survey also found that publishers said Instagram’s brand-appropriateness is growing. Pretty much all publishers have agreed since 2021 that Instagram is brand appropriate for their brands — zero respondents to both this year’s and last year’s surveys said that the platform is not appropriate at all to their brands, and just 2% said so in 2021.
This year, publishers didn’t even say that Instagram is not very appropriate to their brands — zero respondents said this in 2023, after 8% said so in 2022 and 1% said so in 2021. In other words, 100% of publishers said this year that Instagram is at least somewhat brand appropriate.
This year also saw a big jump in the percentage of publishers who said Instagram is appropriate for their brand (as opposed to somewhat or extremely appropriate). Fifty-six percent of publisher pros said this in 2023, a much higher percentage than the 36% who said the same last year. At the same time, though, the percentage of publishers who said Instagram is extremely appropriate for branding saw a drop this year. Slightly more than one-quarter (26%) said Instagram is extremely brand appropriate this year, down from 36% last year.