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2023 social video analysis: Instagram Reels outperformed all other video content

by | Jan 2, 2024 | Public Relations

Social media video content has proven to be the best way for brands to reach today’s younger consumers, and many of the older ones too. When looking at the average amount of time U.S. adults spent on social media platforms in 2023, new research finds more than half of their time (56.5 percent) was devoted to social videos, up more than 15 percentage points during the last three years. Which platforms are leading the charge?

The new research from customer engagement platform Emplifi reveals video performance data for branded Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels and videos, and TikTok content, offering marketers and advertisers valuable insights as they develop social media marketing strategies for the year ahead. After analyzing 2023 video performance for thousands of brand-owned social media accounts, the firm discovered Instagram Reels are generating massive results for advertisers, outperforming all other types of video content, including branded TikTok videos and Facebook video content. 

They also compared video views for short, medium, and long Instagram Reels, as well as varying TikTok video lengths, and found longer Instagram Reels (over 90 seconds) generated more than double the number of median video views compared to TikTok videos.  

“One of the most interesting findings from our research is the shift we’ve witnessed in Instagram Reels video lengths, with longer run-times winning more engagement for brands compared to short-form video. This represents a change in user behavior, with more time being spent on videos that run longer than the average 15-second or 30-second video ad format,” said Zarnaz Arlia, CMO of Emplifi, in a news release. “This insight offers an exciting opportunity for brands to reconsider their creative strategy on Instagram. The data shows that audiences are responding positively to longer videos—the key is producing entertaining and valuable content that keeps them watching.” 

Instagram Reels dominate all other Instagram content

Not only are Instagram Reels outperforming videos posted on other social media platforms, but they are also the top-performing content type on Instagram, delivering six times the reach of Instagram Stories. 

Yet, brands continue to consistently post more Stories than Reels. Between May and October 2023, the number of Instagram Stories posted by global brands was five times the number of Instagram Reels posted. 

2023 social video analysis: Instagram Reels outperformed all other video content

Video lengths matter on instagram, not so much on TikTok

Emplifi found longer-form videos on Instagram generated more views compared to short- and medium-length videos, while TikTok video views remained in the same range regardless of video length.

Instagram Reels that ran longer in length gained 8,372 median views compared to 3,379 views on TikTok. In fact, longer Instagram Reels outperformed all other Reels lengths, with short Reels (under 30 seconds) earning 6,145 median views and medium-length Reels (30- to 90-second) earning a median of 7,830 views.

2023 social video analysis: Instagram Reels outperformed all other video content

Based on the analysis, brands are maintaining similar content volume across both Instagram and TikTok, indicating a balanced approach to their overall video marketing efforts. The substantial difference in video views for branded Instagram Reels versus branded TikTok content is likely the result of Instagram’s push to prioritize Reels on the platform. 

Facebook Reels driving more views than other Facebook video content

Facebook Live saw a surge in usage by brands during Q4 2023, with 1.5 times more Facebook Live videos posted than the previous four quarters. This uptick in Facebook Live content underscores the broader trend of consumers wanting more real-time, interactive content. 

Meanwhile, Facebook Reels performance rates mirror that of Instagram, with longer Facebook Reels consistently gaining more reach compared to shorter video lengths. When looking at engagement metrics, Facebook Reels saw more than three times the number of median views as other video content on the platform. 

2023 social video analysis: Instagram Reels outperformed all other video content

According to Arlia, the primary takeaway from these findings is that Instagram Reels are driving massive results for brands, but the format is still not being adopted by advertisers as quickly as other content types. 

“When you look at Instagram content specifically, brands continue to use Stories more often than Reels—mostly likely because Stories take less of a lift to create—but Reels are delivering far better results. The same is true when you compare Facebook Reels to other Facebook video content. Despite the growth in Reels on Facebook, brands still publish more traditional video formats,” said Arlia. “The underlying theme here is that there are untapped opportunities for the brands that are willing to lean further into their Instagram video strategy and make Reels part of their social media campaigns.”

The firm used its social media solution Emplifi Social Marketing Cloud to perform the analysis.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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