Digiday Research: Facebook is the only social platform valuable to a majority of the brands and publishers using it

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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 →

When it comes to social platforms, there’s the Facebook company, and then there’s everybody else. 

While publishers and marketers alike love to complain, even protest, about the social media giant, its two core ad-supported platforms, Facebook and Instagram, are far and away the most valuable social platforms to media buyers and sellers, Digiday+ research shows. 

Earlier this year, Digiday polled media and marketing professionals about the role that social media platforms play in their employers’ businesses. More than 220 people spread across publishers, agencies and brands responded. 

Of the eight platforms Digiday asked respondents about, only four were cited as used by a representative number of brands, agencies and publishers, and there was one clear winner in that short list. Half of the survey’s publisher respondents and a majority of buy-side respondents that use Facebook — about 60% of both brand and agency described it as at least a “valuable” source of revenue; a full third of agency respondents described Facebook as an “extremely valuable” source of clients’ revenues. 

Instagram showed similar results, with a majority of agency and brand respondents calling it at least “valuable”; publishers were much less excited about Instagram as a source of revenue. 

Outside of that, only YouTube came close to those totals. No other platform notched a score higher than 26%. 

Even among younger-skewing platforms including Snapchat, TikTok and Twitch, which non-representative numbers of respondents said they were using, slim percentages indicated they found them useful. For example, just two of the 23 agency respondents said Snapchat was a “valuable” source of revenue; only one of the 12 agency respondents that used Twitch for clients described the video streaming site that way. 

Even using the fuzzier metric of “brand-building,” Facebook as a company topped the competition. Nearly 90% of agency respondents described Instagram as at least “valuable” for brand-building, with more than 40% of them describing it as “extremely valuable.” Among buy-side respondents, Facebook the platform ranked third for brand-building, a few percentage points behind YouTube, though much higher numbers of respondents use Facebook than YouTube.

Those numbers were in a different universe from the survey’s emerging platforms, though TikTok acquitted itself well, anecdotally — two thirds of the publishers say they are using it. In fact, the results showed a kind of skepticism toward some of the emerging platforms. Among the four brand-side respondents who said they used Twitch, half said that Twitch was “not valuable at all” for brand-building, and the other half called it “somewhat valuable.” Four of the nine publisher respondents using Clubhouse said it was “not very valuable” or worse for brand-building. 

It’s not clear whether this dynamic means that publishers, brands or agencies might reduce their use of these platforms. While all three are under growing pressure to justify the resources they put into every channel, it is also unlikely that the executives who head up social media or audience development are going to let their budgets be reduced.


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