Digiday+ Research deep dive: Publishers continue to rely heavily on Facebook

Illustration of a fire hydrant spraying water with the Facebook logo on the side.

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 →

In an industry as dynamic as media, it is no surprise that the way publishers use social media can change on a dime. And this change happens from one year (or month or even week) to another, as well as from one platform to another.

Digiday set out to learn more about how publishers, who went into 2022 with a good deal of optimism, are using the different social media platforms, and how that usage has changed since last year. In the first Digiday+ Research deep dive on the topic, we’ll look at how publishers are using Facebook.

To start out, Digiday surveyed 72 publisher professionals in June and found that almost all of them are using Facebook: A whopping 99% of respondents said their titles had posted content to the social media platform in the past month. This is higher even than last year’s total, when 95% of 127 publishers said they posted on Facebook.

Not only are most publishers posting on Facebook, but the vast majority of them are posting on Facebook every day, Digiday’s survey found. This year, 74% of publisher pros said their titles post content to Facebook every day, followed by 24% who said they post at least once a week. While 74% is a high number, it is significantly lower than last year: In 2021, 85% of publisher pros said their titles were posting content to Facebook every day.

Most publishers may be posting content on Facebook every day, but the way they are spending on that content varies. For instance, publishers aren’t necessarily investing a lot in original content, but they are investing more than last year: In 2022, more than a quarter of publishers said they invest a lot in creating original content for Facebook, compared with only 16% in 2021. However, 44% of respondents said they invest “a moderate amount” or “a little,” and 30% said they don’t invest at all in original content for Facebook.

It turns out that most of publishers’ investment in Facebook content is in ads: 75% of respondents to Digiday’s survey said their titles purchased advertising on Facebook in the past month.

Despite the fact that a significant number of publishers are investing in ads on Facebook, the value the social platform brings for publishers’ revenues is a bit murky. This year, the number of publishers identifying Facebook as being “extremely valuable” for driving revenues is down compared with last year (13% in 2022 vs. 19% in 2021). But publishers still see Facebook as being valuable (25%) or somewhat valuable (31%) for driving revenues.

The real value Facebook brings for publishers is in brand awareness and brand-building. In fact, 25% of publisher execs said Facebook is “extremely valuable” to building their titles’ brands, up from 19% last year. Almost no respondents said Facebook is not valuable at all for building their titles’ brands this year. And a full two-thirds said Facebook is either “extremely valuable” or “valuable” for brand-building this year, up from 57% last year.

Digiday’s survey found that all publishers see Facebook as brand-appropriate for their titles’ brands – zero respondents this year said the platform is “not appropriate at all” for their titles. Seventy-two percent of publishers said Facebook is either “extremely appropriate” or “appropriate” for their titles’ brands this year, compared with 66% last year.


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