Digiday+ Research deep dive: Agencies heavily favor Instagram over Facebook for their clients

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 →

Interested in sharing your perspectives on the media and marketing industries? Join the Digiday research panel.

When it comes to social media marketing on behalf of their clients, agencies see the value in Instagram much more so than its Meta sibling Facebook — and that’s especially clear in how agency clients are spending on each platform.

This is according to a Digiday+ Research survey of agency professionals conducted in the first quarter of this year.

Digiday’s survey found that Meta’s social platforms (minus Threads) still hold the top spots among social media marketing channels. But Instagram comes in first by a wide margin over sibling Facebook, according to agency pros.

Ninety-four percent of agency pros said that their clients currently use Instagram, making it the first-place social media channel. Seventy-nine percent of agency pros said their clients use Facebook, which puts it in second place — but a distant second place. It is worth noting, though, that Facebook did beat out the third-place social channel by quite a bit. YouTube came in third, with 59% of agency pros saying their clients currently use the platform.

Despite the fact that Facebook and Instagram are often paired together, Digiday’s survey found that agencies approach the two platforms differently, particularly when it comes to measuring the success of their clients’ marketing on the channels. On Facebook, for example, the highest percentage of agency pros said that conversions like downloads and registrations are the main measurement of success used by their clients. On Instagram, the largest group of agency pros said engagement is their clients’ main measurement of success.

Nearly a third of agency pros (32%) told Digiday that conversions are the best indicator of their clients’ marketing success on Facebook, with engagement coming next with just over a quarter (26%) saying engagement is their main measurement of success on the platform. Meanwhile, 40% of agency pros said engagement is the main measurement of success used by their clients on Instagram, with conversions coming in quite a distant second (19% of agency pros said engagement measures their clients’ success on Instagram).

Agencies’ different approaches to Facebook and Instagram is also reflected in how they’re spending on the platforms on behalf of their clients. Digiday’s survey found that while agency spending on Facebook is trending downward, spending on Instagram is trending upward.

Eighty-three percent of agency pros said in Q1 of this year that at least a very small portion of their clients’ marketing budgets goes toward Facebook. That sounds like a lot, until we put it in the context of their spending in past quarters. Six months ago (in Q3 2023), 89% of agency pros said their clients spent at least a little bit on Facebook. A year ago, 93% said their clients spent money on Facebook. And two years ago, 96% said so.

At the same time, the percentage of agency pros who told Digiday their clients spend a large or very large portion of their marketing budgets on Facebook has also trended downward. Just over one-quarter of agency pros (27%) said in Q1 of this year that a large or very large portion of their clients’ marketing budgets goes toward Facebook, which is down from 40% a year ago and down even further from 47% the year before that.

Meanwhile, 91% of agency pros said in Q1 2024 that at least a very small portion of their clients’ marketing budgets goes toward Instagram — a percentage that has remained steady over the last two years. And, unlike with sibling Facebook, the percentage of agencies whose clients spend a large or very large amount on Instagram has been trending upward.

In Q1 of this year, 40% of agency pros told Digiday that their clients spend a large or very large portion of their marketing budgets on Instagram. Six months ago, 38% said their clients spend a lot on Instagram, and a year ago one-third (33%) said the same.

This increase in agency spending on Instagram on behalf of clients could have a lot to do with the fact that agencies consider Instagram the top social platform for branding — by far. Well over half of agency pros (56%) told Digiday that Instagram is the best social channel for branding. The second-place platform didn’t even come close — 18% of agencies said YouTube is the best social channel for branding. Facebook came in a distant third, with just 8% of agency pros saying it’s the best social media platform for branding.

Agencies chose Instagram and Facebook as the top two social channels for driving conversions, although the margins in this instance were much slimmer. Forty-three percent of agency pros said Instagram is the best for conversions, compared with other social channels, and 30% said the same of Facebook.

https://digiday.com/?p=537199

More in Marketing

Snapchat’s relationship with publishers is still pretty complicated

The recent layoffs have thrown a spanner in the works, while the focus on creators seems even more pronounced.

How PGL used influencer co-streams to supercharge esports viewership

For the brands whose sponsorships and ads form the backbone of esports companies’ revenue strategies, official co-streams represent a bit of a double-edged sword.

Digiday+ Research deep dive: Marketers cut way back on X spending as brand safety concerns persist

A Digiday+ Research survey found that marketers’ X usage trails far behind its social media competitors, and also that marketing spend on the platform has dropped dramatically, with brand safety being the biggest concern for marketers.