Publishers on Instagram – video formats are boosting engagement across the app

Anne Freier

In Mobile Advertising

September 15, 2017

Publishers on Instagram have seemed to pick up pace as they increasingly use video formats to share their content. According to findings from Newswhip, overall, top publishers across the platform are producing more video content. Indeed, Sports Illustrated, People Magazine and TIME have seen 90% to 100% increases in their video outputs since May 2016.
So what does the platform have to offer publishers? How can they benefit and which video formats perform the best?
Across the 700 million monthly active user-strong platform, photo engagements are still higher compared to video. However, whilst the average engagement for photos increased 46%, that for video posts jumped 53%. That means, video engagement growth is now outpacing photos.
And although photos tend to attract around 29% more likes than video, video formats gathered 39% more comments than photos. Indeed, videos may be producing a better opportunity for audiences to engage with the content, given that they are longer and users need to scroll through their feed.

For news publishers, engagement growth was huge with BuzzFeed noting 7x more likes and comments across posts in May 2017 compared to the previous year.
When viewed as a proportion of total monthly engagements on Instagram, it becomes easier to see just how much video engagements have picked up pace to contribute to the publishers’ Facebook engagements. ABC News noted some of the most dramatic jumps with March 2016 engagements at just 1% monthly interaction. By May 2017 that figure had grown to 79%.
Similarly, the BBC News account noted that 85% of total engagements in May this year were from video content, up from 65% in 2016.

Given that Instagram made the move to change from a 15-second clip length to 60-second clips, the report also examined what the perfect video length should be. For the top 20 publishers that Newswhip examined, 30 seconds was the average length of video content.
The study also suggests that publishers who add more action scenes, or behind-the-scenes, arty clips and those that are relatable generally fare better.
Further, it notes that captions can make or break a post with the average caption across top performing publishers being 13 words long. Emojis were kept to a minimum one or two.
The average number of hashtags per post was only one, since most publishers don’t use them. It appears that calls-to-action perform much better for publishers. 27% of the 500 posts analysed used such a tactic to drive engagement.
The question now becomes: which site performs better for publishers – Facebook or Instagram?
According to the data, Instagram generally attracted more likes and comments than Facebook posts did. This was especially true for smaller brands, those in food, fashion or travel. This may be driven by the fact that Instagram offers a narrower focus.
Sponsored content and posts were driving over 19 million engagements weekly, according to June data. Newswhip notes that influencer-driven posts drove far more engagements even for large brands which generally perform well by themselves. For example, Wendy’s and JetBlue both saw dramatic increases in impact when using influencers compared to their own posts.

But how can smaller brands find influencers? Newswhip suggests to look for smaller influencers with a tight and loyal following. It may also be worth looking for someone who really speaks to a brand’s values.