Why The Facebook Ecosystem Dominates Social Media Budgets {research}

Why The Facebook Ecosystem Dominates Social Media Budgets

Facebook (and its sister network, Instagram) are beginning to dominate how social marketers spend their paid amplification budgets.

As we know, paid amplification of social media is more important than ever in this era of disappearing organic reach. As I’ve written about many times, Facebook’s goal is to increase their revenue, not yours, and when they shut off the free impressions spigot they gambled that social marketers would grumble for a while but eventually pay up. And of course, they were right.

The same thing is now playing out over at Instagram, with the new, non-linear timeline just a less-angsty way of saying “you are going to have to pay us to reach your fans on this platform too.”

And guess what? The gambit will work again, and is already succeeding.

Our friends at Social Fresh, organizers of the terrific Social Fresh Conference, recently released a comprehensive new report on how professional social media marketers spend their time, and their money.

Their Future of Social Marketing study surveyed 500+ social media professionals ranging from big brands (like those I interview on my Social Pros podcast) to smaller, scrappy organizations from across the USA.

This research shows precisely how dominant the Facebook ecosystem has become in the paid social media side of the industry:


Facebook is a runaway number one as the venue most likely to be getting social ad dollars. Instagram is third, right behind Twitter. Note, however, that Instagram ads opened to all businesses less than seven months before this study was conducted. That’s a quick adoption curve!

Facebook and Instagram will be the most popular venues for paid social in the next year.

And Instagram isn’t going to stay third for long. When asked where they plan to spend the most money in the next year, survey participants were more likely to mention Instagram than Twitter. The data on this particular question is a bit murky because respondents were allowed to select multiple options, but suffice it to say Instagram ads are going to be serious business in short order. 



Why Do Facebook and Instagram Dominate Social Advertising?

Facebook’s role in paid social is easy to fathom: it offers the largest potential audience, and a truly remarkable set of targeting options. Further, many brands invested a lot of energy into the channel in the organic reach days, and don’t want to write it off even though it’s now mostly a pay-to-play scenario with minimal Reliable Reach.

Instagram benefits from it’s association with Facebook in that advertisers can use similar tools to buy ads. But Instagram is also a strictly images platform, with a few videos thrown in here and there. This makes it a very popular advertising option because social media marketers are spending more time creating images than any other type of content. 


Further, even though I could argue (and probably will, in a future blog post) that it’s a misguided thesis, most social marketers still value impressions and eyeballs above all else:


So if awareness is the top goal, and images are the top content type, guess what? Paid Instagram delivers impressions for visuals. 

It will be very interesting to see if other platforms like Snapchat sneak up on Instagram, or if the Facebook + Instagram ecosystem will continue to choke out the other paid social options?

(speaking of Snapchat, you might like our analysis of 5 statistics that show why Snapchat is the platform to watch)

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