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Everything You Need to Know About Instagram Engagement, YouTube Launches Vertical Video, 3 Big Reasons Why Influencer Campaigns Fail, and More!

Aug 6, 2018 11 min readPodcasts

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Is your business prepared for the future of social media?

The social media industry changes so quickly that it can be a challenge to keep up with all of the different announcements and platform updates from your favorite networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

That’s why we’ve created news episodes on The Science of Social Media where Hailley and I discuss the most important trending topics that your business needs to know about each week.

This week on The Science of Social Media, we’re chatting about a brand new Instagram engagement study, including everything you need to know about why users interact with content across the platform. We’re also discussing the implications of vertical video on social media and three reasons why influencer marketing campaigns fail.

Let’s dive in!

Buffer Podcast News Episode

What you’ll learn in this episode

What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the conversation between Hailley Griffis and Brian Peters. Short on time? No worries! Here are four quick takeaways:

  • Instagram Stories hits 400M daily users and brands are flocking to the platform at impressive rates
  • YouTube now supports vertical video which has huge implications for brands moving forward on social media
  • Influencer marketing success depends on a brand’s trust in trust in the influencer and a willingness to stay comitted to the campaign
  • The Academy is this week’s “top post of the week” with their viral Tweet

Must-read resources from the episode

  • How to Gain a Massive Following on Instagram: 10 Proven Tactics To Grow Followers and Engagement – Buffer
  • 752,626 Facebook Ads Analyzed, an eCommerce Growth Case Study, New Social Media Tools, and More! – Buffer
  • Instagram Engagement: Everything You Need to Know [Exclusive Stats] – socialbakers
  • YouTube’s website now supports vertical videos – The Verge
  • 10 Common Reasons Why Influencer Marketing Campaigns Fail – SocialMediaToday
  • Share the plot of your favorite movie in five words – The Academy Twitter

Everything You Need to Know about Instagram Engagement, YouTube Launches Vertical Video, 3 Big Reasons Why Influencer Campaigns Fail, and More! [complete podcast transcript]

Brian: Hi everyone! I’m Brian Peters and this is The Science of Social Media, a podcast by Buffer. Your weekly sandbox for social media stories, insights, experimentation, and learning.

Hailley: Welcome to episode #106! I’m Hailley Griffis and this week we’re delivering the most important social media news that you need to know hot off the press – right to your doorstep. We’re chatting Instagram engagement, vertical video on YouTube, influencer marketing, and more!

Brian: Yup and we also have a fun new segment at the end of the show where we share our favorite social post from the week. We can even all play along! Anyways, welcome from wherever you may be tuning in from…

Let’s kick of the show!

Brian: First things first, Happy Birthday Instagram Stories!

On August 2nd, Instagram Stories turned two years young and as their gift to themselves, they celebrated 400M daily Stories users. Good for them

Maybe Zuck will invite us to the birthday party… what do you think Hailley?

Hailley: With the growth and all of the talk about Instagram over the past few months, you might be wondering to yourself: What makes the Instagram platform so great?

And why do businesses and brands continue to flock to the platform at incredible rates?

Well, SocialBakers published a pretty interesting article about the 5 reasons behind what makes Instagram so successful and we’ve got some exclusive insights for you here on the show today.

Brian: Yeah I found these to be 1) super interesting like you mentioned, and 2) true in the experiences that I’ve had on Instagram from both a personal and brand perspective.

So with that being said, the first thing they found was that Instagram’s algorithm seems to deliver the most consistently relevant content compared to other social media channels.

So like we talked about in a previous episode, in June 2016 they decided to ditch the reverse chronological feed in favor of an algorithmic one, yet the change wasn’t exactly received by users with open arms at first.

Hailley: Not at all, BUT it led to Instagram users seeing 90% of their friends’ posts, as opposed to missing 50% of them prior to the update.

So in short, this means that the Instagram news feed started prioritizing more relevant content, which helped shoot up engagement on the platform.

But it wasn’t just users’ posts that began receiving more engagement. The data shows that brands began to experience a 105% increase in interactions after the update, too.

Brian: Wow. Alright, so the second thing they found is that Instagram users spend a ton of time on the app. I mean, like a lot.

According to Instagram, users under the age of 25 spend over 32 minutes a day on the platform, while users 25 and overspend more than 24 minutes daily on the app.

And just to put that into perspective, same-aged user groups spend 30 and 20 minutes respectively, using Snapchat and an average of 30 or so minutes using Facebook.

Hailley: Yeah the interesting thing to note here is that while user time spent on the Instagram app is actually increasing, time spent on Snapchat, Facebook and other platforms are slowly decreasing over time. Something to watch out for there.

So the third thing they found is that users love the Instagram platform and engage with so much content because of how visual it is. It’s almost like the pinnacle of visual content on social media.

Which I do agree with – I sorta’ feel like I get to live vicariously through people on vacation on Instagram every day.

Brian: Yeah I’m 100% with you there. I love that aspect of Instagram. There’s something about the app that is super sleek and draws me in.

But there’s some data behind that as well.

Instagram found that as much as 40% of people respond better to visual than textual information. In addition, visual posts get more social media interactions, among them the most valuable ones – shares. And Instagram is making an effort to make sharing a lot easier for folks as well across the platform.

Hailley: Alright so their fourth finding is that Instagram enables creativity.

What keeps the platform growing and thriving is partly due to the fact that it’s not only one thing.

Aside from its successful news feed that keeps users engaged, it keeps people around and creating through the Stories format and, recently, the IGTV app.

Brian: Stories is an interesting one because in contrast with regular Instagram posts that are consumed passively, meaning they just appear, Stories are consumed actively – you actually have to click on them.

The data shows that brands get as much as 37% of their total Instagram impressions from Stories, meaning that users are actively interacting with the format.

That’s great news for us as businesses. And like we always say, it’s definitely important to experiment with your Instagram content and give your audience various ways to interact with you.

Hailley: Finally they found that there’s a big difference between types of brand pages, which was really fun to read through.

As you might expect, celebrities are way ahead of the pack when it comes to Instagram engagement.

Between May 2017 and April 2018, they received a median of 438M weekly interactions – over 2x more compared to 216M generated by “media accounts” and 192M garnered by “brand accounts.”

Brian: Yeah and in comparison, the overall engagement on Facebook is much lower and different. So the median interactions are roughly 45M for brands on Facebook (compared to 192M on Instagram), 149M for celebrities (compared to 216M), and 487M for media (compared to 216M).

This means that brands can generate over 4x more interactions on Instagram compared to Facebook.

Hailley: I thought that part was really interesting as well.

So essentially celebrities and influencers are thriving on the Instagram platform and media accounts are thriving on Facebook. And brands are in last place on both, which isn’t great, but at least Instagram is a promising platform on the engagement front.

I think this also means that influencer marketing is crucial for brands to at least consider when developing their Instagram strategy.

Brian: Well I’m glad we’re chatting through influencer marketing later in this show! Total accident that these two topics landed together, but it worked out!

Hailley: Today, the vast majority of content captured on smartphones is shot vertically. In fact, research has shown we hold our phones vertically 94% of the time, which I’m betting is actually even low.

On social media, the rise of vertical video presents both opportunities and challenges when it comes to brand storytelling. The vertical format inherently requires a closer cropped, more refined take.

And with people used to the traditional widescreen 16:9 format, it can be difficult to share the same depth in terms of the context of a short story.

Brian: However, social media networks are quickly jumping on this trend and offering creators vertical video options to share content with their followers.

The most recent to the party, is of course, YouTube. They recently launched vertical video that allows users to both upload and watch vertical videos from their mobile device as well as desktop.

It’s actually a really sleek look and I’m excited to see what comes from it.

Hailley: Yeah and Forbes actually released a really interesting article back in the Spring of this year talking about various brands that have experimented with vertical video and it’s funny because at first a lot of the brands would create a video in landscape first and then edit it to vertical.

But today a lot of those same brands are just going straight to vertical filming. And let’s not forget that they’ve been doing this on Snapchat for quite some time now in the discover tab.

Brian: Yeah that’s a great point – I think we often forget that Snapchat was really one of the pioneers in the vertical video format along with some other things as well.

But like you mentioned that Forbes article was great because they gave some tips on creating engaging videos for social media and one of them that stuck with me was that relevance, authenticity and action are all important, but even the most visually stunning story can fall flat if it doesn’t captivate.

A successful vertical story starts with grabbing your audience’s attention while also letting the passion and character of people shine through.

Hailley: So speaking of influencer marketing, social media today published a great article recently on why some influencer campaigns with big potential end up failing.

We figured we’d share some of those insights with you today so that you’re well prepared if you’re considering running an influencer campaign, or if you’re already running one!

Brian: The first mistake when it comes to influencers is assuming that popularity = influence.

In other words, the more followers you have the more you can persuade an audience.

Which as you and I know, Hailley, just isn’t true.

Hailley: Absolutely, more often than not, an influencer with less followers actually has more sway on their audience because they’re so much closer to their audience and “real life” .

In other words, they’re a lot more relatable.

Not that it’s entirely bad to go with followers as a barometer, but focusing solely on popularity drives awareness, but not engagement or conversions.

Brian: Yeah if you’re in B2B marketing, customers want to see more than just famous personality – they want to see themselves, a.k.a subject matter experts that are their peers, in the content that brands are promoting.

The second mistake that brands make it asking too much of their influencers and losing patience.

If you’re going to pitch an influencer, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to participate and say ‘yes.’

Hailley: This one is sort of common sense, but the more work you ask them to do, the less likely it is that they’ll come on board.

There’s a reason that they’re an influencer so you have to let them do their thing. Set guidelines and a contract, of course, but trust that they’re going to do what’s best for the campaign.

And then stay patient. Awareness and sales might not pour in overnight, but if you trust in the process it will work.

Brian: Yeah it’s like any sort of marketing. Good things take time.

Last but not least, the final mistake we see with brands is putting all of your eggs in one basket, or put different, not having a plan B.

Make sure ave a couple of influencers that you’re ready to work with for every campaign in case one falls through.

Hailley: This is critical, especially in situations in which you’ve scheduled resources and time, such as with broadcasts or at events.

Plus, a lot of times you don’t truly know which influencers are going to drive results for your brand.

Some might surprise you! So it’s just a good idea to experiment with multiple folks to make sure you’re giving influencer marketing a real chance.

Brian: A college effort if you will.

Hailley: So that means it’s time for a new segment here on the show. We don’t have an official name for it yet, but basically, we’re finding the single best post on social media for the week and sharing it here on the show.

So if you have a good name idea or if you want to nominate a post – tag us on social media at #bufferpodcast. And if you send us a post that ends up appearing on this show, I don’t know, we’ll send you a prize or something cool.

Brian: Alright this week’s post is from TheAcademy’s Twitter account – you know like The Academy Awards. They Tweeted out: Share the Plot of Your Favorite Movie in 5 Words”

The results: 51,000 responses, 2,000 retweets, 11,000 likes. Well done Academy, well done.

One of my favorites was: Dodge, duck, dip, dive, dodge – from the movie dodgeball

and “Massive Matt Damon rescue mission from the movie saving private Ryan)

Hailley: Those are awesome.

Yeah I saw a few good ones in there as well like: Epic lads holiday to Morder from the Lord of the Rings and “we couldn’t handle the truth” from a few good men.

So listeners, it’s your turn. Shoot us your 5-word movie plots to #bufferpodcast

Thank you for tuning in to the Science of Social Media today. The show notes for this episode are now available on the Buffer Blog at with a complete transcript. Of course, we’ll include links to all of the resources we covered into today’s show.

And if you ever want to get in touch with me or Brian, we’re always here for your on social media using the hashtag #bufferpodcast. You can also say hi to us anytime and

Brian: As always, thank you so much for your reviews on iTunes! It’s so awesome to read through all your kind comments there – and we actually do read through all of them so thank you.

Be sure to catch next week’s episode where we’ll be diving into the psychology behind social media and what makes people take action on different social channels.

Until next Monday, everyone!

How to say hello to us

We would all love to say hello to you on social media – especially Twitter!

Thanks for listening! Feel free to connect with our team at Buffer on Twitter, Buffer on Facebook, our Podcast homepage, or with the hashtag #bufferpodcast.

Enjoy the show? It’d mean the world to us if you’d be up for giving us a rating and review on iTunes!

About The Science of Social Media podcast

The Science of Social Media is your weekly sandbox for social media stories, insights, experimentation, and inspiration. Every Monday (and sometimes more) we share the most cutting-edge social media marketing tactics from brands and influencers in every industry. If you’re a social media team of one, business owner, marketer, or someone simply interested in social media marketing, you’re sure to find something useful in each and every episode.  It’s our hope that you’ll join our 16,000+ weekly iTunes listeners and rock your social media channels as a result!

The Science of Social Media is proudly made by the Buffer team. Feel free to get in touch with us for any thoughts, ideas, or feedback.

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