Research Briefing: Brands use Facebook less, dive into YouTube Shorts more

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Welcome to the Digiday+ Research Briefing, your weekly curation of media and marketing research insights. Digiday+ members have access to the research below. 

In this edition, we share focal points from Digiday’s recently released reports on marketers’ evolving social media tactics, including how they’re using Facebook less and diving into YouTube Shorts more.

84% of brand, retailer pros said their brands posted content to Facebook in the last month

Although it’s a marketing cliche, 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. Social media, with all of its platforms, is a big part of that, but brands’ and retailers’ use of Facebook has been trending downward over the last few years. That’s according to the results of Digiday+ Research’s surveys of over 100 brand and retailer professionals in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

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.

Some of that decline might be due to the rise of short-form video, which was made popular by apps like TikTok and its predecessor Vine, and has increasingly become a favored format among social media users. YouTube now houses short-form content within YouTube Shorts, which we discuss more in-depth in the case study below. Meta-owned Facebook and Instagram have begun more heavily featuring their Reels vertical short-form video formats too.

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. Some of that rebound effect could be due to increasing investments in original short-form video content.

However, 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.

Key findings:

  • While brands’ and retailers’ investments in creating original content for Facebook are a bit scattered, the group is consistently investing in ads. Seventy percent of brand and retailer pros told Digiday this year that their brands purchased advertising on Facebook in the past month, which is on par with the 73% who said the same last year.
  • Facebook is driving revenues for brands and retailers more this year than last year. Nearly half of brand and retailer pros (48%) said that Facebook is valuable or extremely valuable to driving their revenues, up from just under a third (32%) in 2022. However, that 48% is still pretty far off from the 61% of brands and retailers who said so in 2021. 

Read more about brands’ and retailers’ Facebook use

Case Study: How brands and influencers are diving into YouTube Shorts

With the recent rise in popularity of short-form video, many brands and creators are starting to experiment with YouTube Shorts to expand their reach across social media. Short-form videos are effective for engaging niche audiences and communicating brand messages, and in Digiday+ Research’s YouTube Shorts analysis, all of the 11 influencers included in the study received high viewership numbers from the Shorts videos they posted last year. 

Across all videos, the group received an average of 128,786 views per Shorts video. Jeffree Star (@jeffreestar on YouTube, who has 15.9 million subscribers), for example, posted two Shorts videos to his YouTube channel that amassed over 1.4 million views in combination, and around 718,000 views per video. On average, 802 comments were left on each Shorts video. To note, Star has the largest channel based on subscribers among the influencers included. 

Digiday+ Research found that channels that have consistent interactions with their subscribers can more naturally engage their audiences through Shorts and may see exponential growth in their viewership base — helping position influencers for brand partnerships and brands themselves to find an audience.

Digiday+ Research also looked at the style of Shorts videos influencers most commonly posted and discovered a third (33%) of the 2022 Shorts posts included in this study were tutorial videos depicting beauty or fashion tips, while reviews were the second-most popular type of post, with 21% of Shorts videos sharing creators’ opinions on product efficacy. 

These types of videos garnered the most viewer attention and engagement as well. On average, routine videos received over 428,000 views per video. Tutorials were a close second, averaging over 385,000 views per video. However, more viewers engaged with tutorials than routine videos through likes. On average, tutorials earned about 21,000 likes versus approximately 16,000 likes for routine videos.

Brands working with influencers should consider these types of video formats to engage viewers, as tutorials and routine videos are a great opportunity to display product efficacy and proper usage in a casual format. In particular, Digiday+ Research observed that catchy product demonstrations that don’t feel forced are ideal.

In 2022, the majority of influencers included in this study reposted content from TikTok or Instagram to Shorts. Because influencers with smaller YouTube Shorts channels have been able to amass larger followings on TikTok or Instagram, they largely focus on creating original content for those platforms instead. However, as Shorts continues to evolve and strategies to garner favor from the Shorts algorithm become clearer, brands and influencers alike will need to ideate and produce original content for Shorts — both sponsored and otherwise.

Some brands are already looking to develop and invest in original and dedicated Shorts videos to take advantage of the recent surge in Shorts consumption, rather than repurposing existing content from TikTok and Instagram. Ipsy, for example, is assessing how to develop and invest in original and dedicated Shorts content.  

Key findings:

  • Shoppable Shorts debuted in June 2022, providing viewers with the ability to shop products shown in one of the short-form videos. Only four influencers out of the 11 included in this study posted sponsored or shoppable Shorts videos last year, but as shoppable and sponsored content continue to grow, influencers are beginning to create more original content for Shorts — and some of it is shoppable.
  • On average, the 11 influencers included in this study received over 128,000 views per Shorts video posted. Even the smallest channel received over 3,000 views per video on average. However, Shorts viewers casually scroll through many videos in one sitting and may be more passive to brand content than long-form video viewers. 

Read full case study

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