Socialbakers, the unified marketing platform for social media marketers, released a comprehensive report on Social Media Trends for Q4 2019. Key insights from the report include Instagram overtaking Facebook in audience size, the relative decline in engagement during the holiday season, the popularity of vertical videos, the dominance of women among fans and followers, growing ad spend, and the continuing explosion of influencer marketing.
"The writing has been on the wall for some time, but now it's official. When it comes to the top 50 biggest brand profiles, Instagram has a larger audience than Facebook," said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO, Socialbakers. "That development was not a surprise. What was unexpected in Q4 2019, however, was the relative decline in engagement during the holiday season. This is a warning sign that brands require a deeper understanding of which types of content their audiences find compelling, and an agile method to get that content in front of them."
The key findings of the Q4 2019 Trends report include:
Audience: Instagram surpasses Facebook
Based on the top 50 biggest brand profiles worldwide, there was a notable change in Q4 2019. For the first time, the total audience on Instagram surpassed the total audience size on Facebook. Additionally, the total interactions on Instagram were nearly 20 times larger than those on Facebook. So, even though the top 50 brands published more posts on Facebook, the engagement on those posts didn't reach the numbers that Instagram was able to achieve.
Engagement: A surprising drop in interactions
Despite attempts to attract consumers during the holiday season, the relative post interactions for both Instagram and Facebook were lower in Q4 2019 than a year ago. This was true even among the most successful industries on social media. Fashion, the top industry on Instagram, decreased by 19.4%, while the top industry on Facebook, Ecommerce, decreased by 9.6% versus Q3 2019. This may indicate that brands need to get smarter about the content they post, and focus on top quality content in smaller volumes to increase engagement.
However, one interesting success story in Q4 engagement is the Services category. It achieved a 66.7% jump in engagement on Instagram compared to Q3 2019. On Facebook, Services finished fourth with 7.6% of total interactions after not making the top eight in the previous quarter. Services is a wide-ranging category that includes lawyers, accounting services, hairdressers, car repairs, IT services, conference and event organizers, and weight-loss courses.
Format: Vertical videos pull viewers in
Marketers often wonder whether viewers prefer videos that were shot horizontally or those that were shot vertically. Currently, about 70% of videos on Facebook brand pages are shot horizontally. But according to Q4 data from those Facebook brand pages, vertical videos perform better than horizontal videos across the board. For videos shorter than 30 seconds (which is the most popular video length), vertical videos were completed by viewers 29.9% of the time, while horizontal videos were completed 22.2% of the time.
Demographics: Women are dominant on social media
According to the Q4 2019 data, women make up the majority of fans and followers of brand pages on both Instagram and Facebook. On Instagram, 58% of brand page followers were female, comprising the majority of every age demographic. On Facebook, women made up 56.7% of the total audience of page fans, although there were slightly more men in the 18-24 age demographic. Women are also the largest group of people mentioning and interacting with brand pages in the prime marketing demographic of 25-34. Overall, women represented 56.4% of the audience engaging with brands in Q4 2019.
Ad spend: Instagram rises but Facebook remains the leader
As in past quarters, ad spend on Instagram Stories continues its rapid growth, although Facebook Feed remains the leader with 58.3% of total ad spend. For the first time, Instagram Stories reached 10% of ad spend in the second half of 2019. Overall, the spend on Instagram Stories increased by 40% over the last year, and by 91% over the last two years.
Other ad spend trends include the rise of Instagram Explore and Facebook Marketplace as a destination for advertising dollars. In its first five months, the percentage of ad spend on Instagram Explore grew to 1.32%. And over the last year, ad spend on Facebook Marketplace grew from 0.72% in December 2018 to 1.31% at the end of 2019, an increase of more than 80%.
Influencer marketing: No sign of slowing down
One trend that remains unchanged is the skyrocketing growth of influencer marketing. In Q4 2019, the number of influencers using #Ad or the local language version in their posts exploded by 90.5%. For the third straight quarter, the top Instagram brand profile in the world associated with influencers was Walmart, which had 854 mentions from 619 influencers in Q4 2019. Other profiles with successful influencer partnerships included Daniel Wellington, iDeal Of Sweden, and FashionNova.com.
The complete Q4 2019 Social Media Trends Report with supporting graphics is now available for free download.