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Publishers see significant increase in engagement on new social media

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Photo and video-sharing social networks like Instagram and Snapchat have notched up notable growth, according to recent reports. Instagram is being seen as the fastest growing social platform for magazine media, while Snapchat’s global user growth has exceeded expectations

What’s more, many magazines have seen substantial increases in follower count on Instagram, compared to almost negligible growth on Facebook and Twitter. 

Instagram posts largest growth by far in likes and followers

In fact, according to the MPA (The Association of Magazine Media), Instagram has had the highest growth rate among the social networks it tracked (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) in the past three years. MPA’s latest social media report has found that magazines saw a 6.3% increase in follower growth on Instagram in the second quarter. 

This is a substantial figure considering that Instagram has over a billion monthly active users. The study covered 270 magazine publishers across fashion, lifestyle, news, sports and technology publications.

The report shows that news magazines saw significant growth on Instagram. The New Yorker, New York Magazine, and Scientific American increased their Instagram followers by 6% each to reach 3.4M, 1.5M, and 140,100 followers.

The Economist registered a 13% increase touching 3.5M. The Atlantic saw 23% growth notching up 246,000 followers. In comparison, these publications saw negligible likes/follower growth in Facebook and Twitter, although they still command the majority of these sites’ social audience.

Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO of Socialbakers, a social media marketing firm, credits Instagram for Facebook’s strong Q2 earnings results. He says, “We’ve seen a growing number of brands choosing to increase their ad spend on Instagram, so it is no surprise that Facebook results are strong. Marketers find the platform valuable and it shows in the rising cost of engagement.”

“Snap’s turnaround”

In yet another development, Instagram competitor Snapchat reported quarterly results that indicate a resurgence. It’s user base grew for the second consecutive quarter to reach 203M daily active users against earlier projections of 191.7M. 

Last year, the company saw its user base shrink from 191M daily users in the first quarter to 188M in the second. Further, it reported a revenue of $388M for the second quarter, which is 48% higher compared to the same time last year. TechCrunch reported that the company’s share price has tripled since the beginning of 2019. 

Snap’s turnaround has been driven by CEO Evan Spiegel’s decision to stop trying to attract all users and instead focus on the company’s core base of younger consumers.

Salvador Rodriguez, Technology Reporter at CNBC

Snapchat has been working at wooing publishers with new tools. Last September, it introduced Curated Our Stories which gives publishers access to users’ posts to make their own curated live stories. The CNN used it to cover the fire at Notre Dame cathedral. 

Justin Lear, Director of Social Discovery at CNN told Digiday, “What was so key for Notre Dame is we got it up really quickly. We knew it would be such a story [for] this audience that so key on visuals.” The publisher did not reveal viewership numbers for its Notre Dame story but said that its various editions range from 5M to 20M viewers.

CNN is synonymous with breaking news; it’s important to provide that to every audience and on the platforms that they’re on. It is a worthwhile endeavor for us participate because of that under 25 audience and, generally speaking, if we didn’t see the benefit of audience engagement or the audience at all we wouldn’t invest the time. 

Ashley Codianni, Executive Producer of Social and Emerging Media, CNN

A recent Digiday survey found that 65% of publishers consider Snapchat a significant revenue driver. 

Tiktok: “A new rising player”

And that is not all, there is a new rising player in the social video field, and that’s Tiktok. Ben-Itzhak says, “While all our metrics indicate that Instagram is getting more love from users and brands, we are hearing about TikTok more often in our conversations with budget holders at brands. Although TikTok has scaled well and has already started experimenting with paid content, more enterprise brands are looking to give it a try to learn about the quality of engagement and type of audience they can acquire and engage with over the TikTok platform. 

“However, early adopters who ran experimental campaigns on TikTok have not achieved the same level of return (cost vs engagement) they are seeing on Instagram – at least at this stage. If there is anything out there that might compete with Facebook services and revenue, it’s TikTok, although it’s still in its infancy.”

What’s notable is that Tiktok has over half a billion active users, 40% of whom are from outside China. Publishers like The Washington Post, NBC News, and The Dallas Morning News are on it. 

These developments, when seen from the lense of Ofcom’s 2019 news consumption report indicate that young audiences are increasingly favoring photo and video-based social media for consuming news. 

Single biggest trend in western media

The Ofcom report found that the average 65-year-old and above in the UK watches 33 minutes of TV news a day. This falls to just two minutes for people in the 16-24 age group. It states, “There is evidence that UK adults are consuming news more actively via social media.”

Jim Waterson, Media Editor at The Guardian comments in his column, “The increase in people turning to social media for news is being driven by the growing popularity of WhatsApp and Instagram as information sources.”

He adds, “The findings provide further evidence that the British media is splitting along generational and ethnic lines. Older people and white Britons are largely sticking with television and print newspaper outlets, while younger people and those from minority ethnic backgrounds are following a largely separate news agenda on social media.” 

This is the single biggest trend in western media, not just the UK. Each generation is consuming media differently, so publishers need to approach them accordingly.