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Social Ad Spend Surged 50% In 2020

Socialbakers Report Highlights Organic & Paid Trends

2020 was a year that many of us struggled with. It was a year the likes of which we had never seen before, and hope never to see again.

So it should come as no surprise to learn that Socialbakers Q4 2020 report sees a few pre-COVID conventions turned on their heads.

Among the bigger about-turns see Instagram Ads dropping off and how influencers have lost influence. While other key data points are a little more predictable (the social ad spend surge, anyone?)

Social Ad Spend Is Up

The majority of social spending (73.7%) was directed to Facebook and Instagram feeds, while Instagram stories attracted just under 11% of spending. The rest of the pot was split between 17 other areas.

Brands increased their spending on social media advertising by heaps – up to 50.3% more compared to Q4 in 2019.

Yuval Ben-Itzhak, President, Socialbakers.

Brands dramatically increased their investment in social media advertising in Q4. At its Q4 peak, worldwide ad spend increased by 50.3% compared to the holiday peak in Q4 2019.”

Online Video Leads Interactions

Online video continued to gain importance through 2020, with Facebook Live leading the way. It earned 39 median post interactions – which blew images (14) and video (12) out of the water.

Instagram Carousel might have Facebook Live beaten for median interactions (176), but Live was the only area and the only platform on which interactions increased compared to Q3 2020.

Influencers Are Influencing Less

The number of influencers who used #ad in their posts decreased by a whopping 17.6% year-on-year. Socialbaker noted that while Q4’s number see an increase due to the holiday season, they still fall behind 2019’s output.

Although, with official Branded Content posts and ads growing in popularity, could that perhaps negate the need for adding #ad or similar?

Brands and marketers were still happy to put their money where large influencer’s mouths were. This group, those with over one million followers, was the only one to grow in Q4, compared to Q3.

Brands need to understand these user habits. They'll become engrained in everyday behaviour as pandemic life starts to become entrenched in all of us. Marketers need to follow data like this to create campaigns that align with audiences’ expectations in 2021.

Cost Per Click Up Across Instagram And Facebook

Q4 in 2020 saw cost-per-click (CPC) increase on Facebook by 12.1% ($0.107 to $0.120), while cost-per-impression (CPM) increased by 4.6% ($1.795 to $1.878).

The rise is indicative of CPC on Facebook and Instagram. Between the two platforms, CPC increased for all brand ad accounts by 25.2% ($0.139 to $0.174). This is more than 10% higher than it was at the end of Q4 in 2019 ($0.155).

Organic Engagement Results

Organic engagement on Facebook and Instagram remained fairly steady, except for two main peaks and troughs.

Social Media Trends Report, Socialbakers

“The relative post interactions for the 50 biggest Instagram brand profiles remained mostly steady over the last 15 months, but there was a noticeable decrease at the end of Q4.

Meanwhile, the relative post interactions were relatively steady on Facebook, too, except for a large spike at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Despite that spike, Facebook engagement fell at the end of Q4 to their lowest point of the year – however, those numbers do match declines from December 2019 and Socialbakers mused that this could be a seasonable pattern.

Instagram’s fall in engagement was labelled ‘an outlier’ as interactions in December 2019 were at their highest point.

Growth In Ecommerce & Retail

Ecommerce brands were engaged with the most on Facebook and were the second-highest in terms of interactions on Instagram – behind fashion. Ecommerce also led growth on Facebook, and at 8.7% was the fastest growing industry, while retail grew at 9.6% on Instagram.

As a total, ecommece accounted for 40% of interactions when you combine their reach across Facebook and Instagram. Other notable industries include:

  • Retail (13.8% of interactions on Facebook)
  • Beauty (10% of interactions on Instagram)
  • Services (9.6% of interactions on Facebook)

Interestingly, ‘other’ industry accounted for 28.6% of interactions on Facebook and only 12.9% on Instagram.

Facebook Live & Instagram Carousel Rule

Looking at post-type performance, we can see some really interesting findings within the report. The information should give brands and marketers a really clear signpost when they come to plan social media content for 2021 – in short, use Facebook Live more!

The report finds:

  • Facebook Live had 39 median interactions per post
  • Images had 14 median interactions per post
  • Regular video had 12 median interactions per post
  • Links earned 10 median interactions per post
  • Status updates had less than 10 median interactions per post

The stats for Instagram were broadly similar and followed the theme of photos being more popular than video.

  • Carousel had 176 median interactions per post
  • Images had just under 140 median interactions per post
  • Video had around 90 median interactions per post

Data like this provides a clear indication of how brands and marketers should use these two platforms. On Facebook, go with a mix of Facebook Live and images, while Instagram users want to see carousel posts and posts containing images over video.

Organic Social Video Results

Video content as a percentage of all brand posts on Instagram increased by 5.9% compared to Q4 2019 to 17.9%, while brands on Facebook posted 4.6% more video content vs Q4 2019.

Despite those really encouraging numbers around Facebook Live engagement, hardly any brands are making the most of it. The percentage of Facebook Live posts on brand accounts remained basically the same year-on-year. For December 2020, Facebook Live posts account for 0.74% of all content – in December 2019, that number was 0.72%.

Longer Videos Gaining On Facebook

How did video length correlate with performance? Socialbakers found out that:

  • Monthly reach of videos on Facebook went down in Q4 2020.
  • The reach of videos longer than five minutes decreased by 28.5%
  • Performance of videos longer than five minutes increased 24.9%
  • Performance of videos between 65 seconds and five minutes increased 25.9%

It’s important to note here that Socialbakers quantity performance as unique video views  ÷ unique impressions x 100.

What these percentages mean is that long (65 seconds to five minute) videos had a median reach of between 5,000 and 7,500 while very long (five minute and longer) videos had a median reach of between 7,500 and 10,000 in December 2020. They were the two highest performing types of video.

This gives another interesting and important insight to social media planners: go long with your video, despite the decline in video overall. We may have thought that short and sweet video was the way to go, but long and very long videos consistently out-performed their shorter brothers and sisters across 2020.

While Instagram Reels was created with one watchful eye on short form video content, Facebook proper still clearly has YouTube in its sights.

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