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Engagement with Instagram Videos Is Surging

And smart publishers are capitalizing on the trend

September 11, 2017 | Social Media | Video

Savvy publishers are finding success on Instagram with video, a format the social media platform added to its app back in 2013 in a move that seemed revolutionary at the time—and still may prove to be.

According to new data from social media analytics firm NewsWhip, photos are typically still generating higher engagement levels than videos among Instagram users. (NewsWhip counted a “like” or a comment as engagement, which it also called a “content interaction.”)

But engagement numbers for videos posted to top media publisher accounts worldwide increased by 53% year over year in May, surpassing the 46% growth rate seen for photos over the same timeframe.

Some news and media organizations appear to be taking note of video’s appeal among Instagram users, and a select few have been adding such content at a furious pace. Sports Illustrated, for example, posted just eight videos to its Instagram account in May 2016, but upped that figure to 325 this May. ESPN, for its part, more than doubled its number of Instagram videos over the same period.

Leading News & Media Publishers on Instagram Worldwide, Ranked by Number of Videos Posted, May 2016 & May 2017

Sports-focused site Bleacher Report outpaced any other publisher by posting 479 videos on Instagram in May 2017. The Turner Broadcasting System-owned site seems to have figured out a winning formula for driving engagement on the platform.

NewsWhip found that Bleacher Report logged more than 74.5 million content interactions in May—more than 10 times the second-place finisher, Fox News, among the platforms it examined. BuzzFeed News also saw an impressive improvement in its content interaction figures, with engagement levels increasing by 687% between May 2016 and May 2017.

Number of Content Interactions on Posts from Select News & Media Publishers on Instagram Worldwide, May 2016 & May 2017 (thousands and % change)

There’s an obvious reason for the spike in the number of videos posted to these media properties’ Instagram accounts: Publishers have increasingly been turning to video ads to bolster their bottom lines. According to a forecast from Dentsu Aegis Network, worldwide ad spending on digital video will jump 25.4% next year.

The trend of increased social video advertising is reflected in sentiments expressed by those overseeing ad budgets. An April survey of marketers in the US carried out by cloud-based video creation company increase spending on Instagram video ads over the coming year.

Instagram has also done its part to encourage spending on its video ads. In February 2016, the Facebook-owned property extended the maximum length of video ads to 60 seconds, up from 30 seconds, to give advertisers more leeway with their creative. And in January of this year, Instagram opened up its Stories sharing feature to full-screen, autoplaying video ads for the first time.

Rahul Chadha

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