Digiday+ Research deep dive: Brands, retailers use Facebook less, even as it drives revenues, branding

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It’s really a marketing cliche at this point: Brands and retailers have to meet consumers where they’re spending their time to give themselves the best chance of capturing as many of their dollars as possible. It’s well-established that social media is a big part of that. But with so many platforms at people’s fingertips, where exactly are these brands and retailers investing their time and marketing spend — especially as the all-important holiday shopping season fast approaches?

Digiday+ Research surveyed over 100 brand and retailer professionals in 2021, 2022 and 2023 to find out — and to see how the answers have changed over time. The first platform we’re taking a look at is Facebook.

To start, Digiday’s survey found that brands’ and retailers’ use of Facebook has been trending downward over the last few years. In fact, the percentage who said their brands posted content to Facebook in the past month is down almost 10 percentage points from two years ago.

Eighty-four percent of brand and retailer pros told Digiday this year that they posted on Facebook in the last month — admittedly a significant amount. But that percentage is down from the 88% who said the same in 2022, and it’s down even further from the 95% who said so in 2021.

Even as brands’ and retailers’ usage of Facebook declines, of those who are posting on Facebook, more are actually doing so on a daily basis. Digiday’s survey saw a big jump this year in the percentage of brand and retailer pros who said they post on Facebook every day: Just under a third (32%) said they post content to the platform every day in 2023, compared with just 16% who said they did so in 2022. However, this year’s percentage is still less than the 39% who said in 2021 that they posted on Facebook every day.

Still, the majority of brands and retailers keep their Facebook posts to once or a few times a week, which is on par with Digiday’s survey results from last year. Fifty-four percent of brand and retailer pros said this year that they post content on Facebook at least once a week, compared with 56% last year. Meanwhile, the percentage of brands and retailers who said they post on Facebook only at least once a month fell from 28% last year to just 14% this year.

Interestingly, when it comes to investing in original content for Facebook, Digiday’s survey found that there was a big jump this year in brands and retailers who said they invest a lot — and those who said they invest nothing at all.

Twenty percent of brand and retailer pros told Digiday this year that they invest a lot in creating original content for Facebook. Last year, only 8% of brand and retail pros said the same. The year before, 28% said they invested a lot in original content for Facebook, showing a rebound in this category this year.

At the same time, the percentage of brands and retailers who said they invest nothing at all in creating original content for Facebook has been trending upward significantly since 2021. This year, nearly a quarter of brand and retailer pros (23%) told Digiday that they don’t invest in original content for Facebook. That’s up from the 16% who said the same last year and the very small 4% who said so the year before.

While brands’ and retailers’ investments in creating original content for Facebook are a bit all over the place, Digiday’s survey found that the group is consistently investing in advertising on the platform. Seventy percent of brand and retailer pros told Digiday this year that their brands purchased advertising on Facebook in the past month, which is consistent with the 73% who said the same last year.

While brands’ and retailers’ use of Facebook trends downward and the percentage of those who choose not to invest in original content for the platform trends upward, Digiday’s survey this year found that Facebook is driving revenues for brands and retailers even more so than it did last year.

Nearly half of brand and retailer pros (48%) said this year that Facebook is valuable or extremely valuable to driving their revenues, up from just under a third (32%) last year. However, this year’s 48% is still pretty far off from the 61% of brands and retailers who said Facebook is valuable or extremely valuable to driving revenues in 2021. So the platform is seeing a rebound in this category, but it still has a ways to go.

Looking a bit more closely at the data, the brands and retailers who said Facebook is valuable to driving their revenues (as opposed to somewhat or extremely valuable) drove a good portion of the rebound. Just 8% of brand and retailer pros told Digiday last year that Facebook was valuable to driving their revenues. That percentage shot up to 32% this year.

It’s worth noting that the percentage of brands and retailers who said Facebook is extremely valuable to driving their revenues did see a drop this year. Last year, 24% of brand and retailer pros said the platform was extremely valuable in this respect, with the percentage falling to 16% this year.

Facebook’s value for branding also increased this year, brands and retailers told Digiday. Just over two thirds of brand and retailer pros (68%) said this year that Facebook is valuable or extremely valuable for branding, compared with just more than half (52%) last year.

More specifically, the percentage of brands and retailers who said Facebook is extremely valuable for branding saw a big jump this year: More than a quarter (27%) told Digiday that the platform is extremely valuable for branding in 2023, compared with just 12% in 2022.

At the same time, 3% of brand and retailer pros told Digiday this year that Facebook is not valuable at all to branding. This is a very small percentage, but it does mark a change from the previous two years, when not one respondent to either survey said Facebook isn’t valuable at all for branding.

At the end of the day, a very significant majority of brand and retailer pros told Digiday this year that Facebook is brand-appropriate for their businesses — a much more significant majority than last year, as a matter of fact. The percentage of brands and retailers who said Facebook is appropriate or extremely appropriate for their brands surpassed three-quarters this year: 76% of respondents to Digiday’s survey said this. Last year, 56% of respondents said Facebook was appropriate or extremely appropriate for their brands.

The percentage of brands and retailers who specifically said Facebook is extremely brand-appropriate increased significantly over the last year. Just 12% of brand and retailer pros told Digiday in 2022 that Facebook was extremely brand-appropriate for them, while 41% said so in 2023.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that Digiday’s survey also found this year that the percentage of brand and retailer pros who said Facebook is not very appropriate to their brands has been trending upward over the last few years. This group makes up a very small percentage of respondents — 8% of brands and retailers said this year that Facebook is not very brand-appropriate. But it marks an increase from the 4% who said the same last year and the 0% who said so the year before.

On the flip side of that, not one respondent to Digiday’s survey in 2021, 2022 or 2023 said that Facebook is not brand-appropriate at all.

https://digiday.com/?p=519319

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