We probably don’t have to tell you that social media is a big deal.
But just for funsies let’s take a look at some stats:
- The average person spends 2 ½ hours per day on social media
- 3.8 billion people use social media worldwide
- 84% of people with Internet access use social media
Just think, right now, most of the world’s population is posting gym selfies, donating birthdays to charity, saying they are leaving Facebook but never actually doing it, accepting random LinkedIn connect requests to pad their numbers, rejecting invites to play Farmville, liking photos of food, making millions dancing on TikTok, using MySpace (yep, that’s still a thing), tweeting regretful things on Twitter, and all the other crazy shenanigans we get up to on social media.
So with stats like those, advertising on social media is a no brainer.
Unless you don’t like your ads being seen by people.
In which case, social media probably isn’t for you.
For everyone else social media is the greatest thing to happen to advertising since — well — the invention of advertising. Just ask the roughly $50 billion spent yearly in the US on social media.
But where are all those billions going?
Let’s pull some insight from Pathmatics Explorer to see which social media sites are the cream of the ad crop.
Facebook is the most popular social media site to advertise on by far. That probably shouldn't come as a surprise given:
- Facebook is the world’s third most visited website
- Facebook has an over 55% social media market share in the US
- Facebook’s self-serve advertising platform makes it simple to reach highly targeted audiences
The majority of industries have prioritized Facebook over all other social media channels for advertising, including each of the top five highest ad spending industries — Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), Financial Services, Retail, Media, and Pharma & Healthcare. All of which spent more on Facebook advertising than any other website. Period.
As of writing, over the past 12 months, Retail was by far the biggest industry spender, dropping a cool $1.1 billion for Facebook ads.
Which is the most any industry spent to advertise on a single website (social media or otherwise) over that period.
In case you’re wondering, Disney was the top advertiser on Facebook, spending $322 million over the past 12 months. To put that in perspective, that’s more than the entire Auto and Dating industries spent on Facebook advertising, combined.
Most of Disney’s Facebook advertising went towards promoting their Disney+ streaming service.
Fun Fact: Pathmatics Explorer found that the most spent on a single ad across the entire Internet was that top one from Disney for almost $11 million.
Instagram was right up there with Facebook for popularity. It ranked in the top 5 for pretty much every industry, usually in second place. Although it saw considerably less ad spend overall.
CPG was the photo and video sharing platform’s leading industry spender with $661 million.
Given that Facebook also owns Instagram and Instagram ads are generated using the Facebook Ads manager, it’s safe to say Zuckerberg and Co. are the clear winner when it comes to social media advertising.
This is seen nowhere better than the Food & Drink industry, which contributed an impressive 69% of their online ad spend to Facebook owned entities.
Depending on who you talk to, Twitter use is either dropping or stuck in a holding pattern. Yet despite this, Twitter remains one of the most popular websites online, falling in at third for the most popular social media site to advertise on.
This may be in large part due to reports that an astonishing 80% of Twitter users are affluent (as in cha-ching!) millennials.
Again, CPG was the biggest spender at $232 million. This is thanks largely to the top three highest spenders, Nestle, The Kraft Heinz Company, and Mondelez International.
That said, Disney spent the most (by a landslide) on a single ad, promoting this Disney+ tweet for $3.1 million.
The next closest was a DiGiornia pizza tweet, which cost Nestle $1.2 million. Less spend, but far more delicious looking.
Wait, What About YouTube?
There’s some debate over whether YouTube qualifies as a social media site. And while YouTube certainly falls under the category of user-generated content, it seems to operate in another hemisphere than the other social media platforms listed above.
But don’t worry.
We took YouTube into account when analyzing the most popular websites to advertise on. Curious where it landed? You might be surprised. Check out that list. Between that analysis, and this one for social media, you’ll have a complete picture of how businesses are advertising online right now.
With over a decade of experience across digital marketing, content, creative, and PR, Sarah is a creative and dynamic thinker who loves to delight clients with unique and relatable content. Sarah graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Sociology.