Facebook vs YouTube: The Great Video Question
I’ve been very interested to see some of the reports on Facebook video recently – including this one in Time. Most of them seem to be based on Social Bakers’ October research that shows a 50% increase in brands sharing videos on Facebook between May and July 2014. The survey also stated that Facebook is trending to surpass YouTube by the end of the year, which according to Social Bakers and Business Insider, it now has.
I’m interested because this directly relates to the pages I manage.
Facebook is far and away the most relevant of our social platforms. Partly that’s because it’s longer established than any of the others, but essentially, it’s just where our core audience is. So photos, links, text posts – they all get great engagement.
I’ve never really viewed Facebook as a place for video, though. Or at least not till recently. YouTube is the place for video, I thought – that’s where people go to watch it, after all. And if we’re bothering to create video for YouTube, and curate that channel, why would we put it on Facebook directly when we engage that Facebook audience by linking out to YouTube? Doesn’t that just mean you’re splitting your audience? Creating content that competes?
On some level I still think these things, but I’ve been testing – and, well…
A few months ago, when Facebook brought out the auto-play element that I find so irritating (and has been blamed for sky high phone bills) I thought – well, this is good for pages. Auto play is universally annoying, but it does help view counts. With Facebook you’re also putting that auto-playing video directly into a person’s News Feed. With your YouTube subscribers on the other hand, you’re relying on them having signed-up to see your video alerts. In other words, Facebook gives you a captive audience. With YouTube, your viewers need to do the work. And that’s probably fine if you have a big YouTube presence, but it doesn’t help if you’re trying to grow your channel.
So, auto-play is irritating for people but valuable for pages. Plus, our Facebook audience is larger and more engaged than on any other channel. It seems a no-brainer: to get our videos seen we should be adding them to Facebook.
It took me a while to make the switch, though. I really wanted to convert that engaged Facebook audience to help build our YouTube channel. I still do. But it’s apparent that converting one to the other is not easy. And why should it be? If your audience is in one place, deliver the content to them in that one place. It makes sense.
And yet it was only when I noticed Facebook had made videos more prominent on my page that I started to realise I was missing a trick. We had video content languishing on YouTube with a few thousand views after several months. It wasn’t getting seen, and Facebook was not helping us grow those view counts (it doesn’t help that YouTube’s view counts can seem to take ages to catch up with themselves, either.)
So after a few weeks, I started adding videos to our pages as well as YouTube. The results were amazing. One video that had had only 5,000+ views in 8 months on YouTube gained half as many again – 2,500+ – inside three hours on Facebook. Every single video I have added in the past few months has outperformed its YouTube counterpart within a matter of days.
So on one hand I’m wondering why I didn’t do it sooner. But the flip side is that it’s hard to know how valuable those views are. The insights YouTube provides on specific videos is clearly far superior, but given Facebook is apparently out to steal YouTube’s video creator crown, how long can it be till that changes?
Plus, just as I started adding videos, good old Facebook made another change – adding call-to-action buttons direct to organic videos. That means I can direct people straight off to other owned channels, even if I’m not paying to advertise the post. And with Facebook announcing more call-to-action buttons for pages today, it’s certainly looking like they’re doing more to help digital marketers and smaller brands than previously.
Of course YouTube is still important – and the key thing missing from all this is that YouTube makes money on its videos via advertising, and you can bet that Facebook will want to do the same soon. But the past few months of experimentation have been very worth it for me. Splitting our audience? Seems like most of them are on Facebook, anyway…
This chart shows why publishers are right to be scared of Facebook
Not dead yet then, Facebook
[Image courtesy of Shareaholic]
It’s no secret that Facebook’s referral traffic to websites is huge. What’s more surprising, perhaps, is just how rapidly the company got to that point.
In the last year, Facebook’s sharing power has more than doubled, according to a recent report. In September 2013, Facebook drove 10.37 percent of websites’ overall traffic, based on a survey of 300,000 websites across a range of sizes and categories (fashion, sports, religion, news, the list goes on). In just the past twelve months, that number increased to 22.36 percent, making Facebook the undisputed social referral king. In comparison, the next biggest social referrer, Pinterest, drives only 5.52 percent of overall traffic. Twitter, the third largest social referrer, is a pittance at 0.88 percent.
These numbers were published the same day as a widely shared New York Times article about Facebook’s power over publishers. With Facebook’s rapid traffic referral ascendence in the past year, Google…
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Facebook against Click Bait (finally)
Amazing news from Facebook HQ today – they’re taking action against those click-baity Facebook posts with their ‘you won’t believe what happened next’ style copy that nobody seems to like, and yet (currently) everyone seems to ‘like’.
They’re also giving more engagement to posts that share links, as opposed to featuring them alongside images.
Read the full post on Facebook’s blog.
These are both very welcome changes, as for page owners this means a couple of things:
- The CONTENT you share is now even more important than the way you craft your posts (though of course the way you craft them will always be important!)
It’s always frustrated me that the BuzzFeed/Upworthy-style posts of afore-mentioned sites and their imitators – usually with their Random Capitalisation Of Every Word – get so much engagement without actually telling you what’s in said post. Few people on Facebook want to spend valuable time deciphering what a post actually means, so why we have to be coerced into clicking without being told what is being linked to has always struck me as slightly unworthy, even if the content itself is valuable and interesting. You just shouldn’t need to coerce people to read valuable and interesting content. And this update makes that even clearer – make your content count, and your audience should engage.
- Which means… it’s all about YOUR AUDIENCE
It should always be about your audience, of course, but these changes should encourage us to study the people who take the time to engage with our pages in more detail: what sort of content do they respond well to? What brings huge numbers in terms of likes, and what brings more thoughtful comments? And – most importantly – what makes them click (literally and actually)? It becomes less about the generic psychology of what makes people respond (though, again, this will always be important) and more about the specific psychology of the people who like YOUR page. So after they’ve clicked, what percentage convert to a specific action? It’s about the whole journey, not just the chasing of likes and shares that, in the end, give you little reward aside from a slight increase in brand awareness.
So there you go – two of the many reasons I think this update is one of the most significant Facebook have ever announced.
What do you think?
They are a-changin’
It’s been a while.
The past few months have been more about editorial content and website optimisation than Facebook algorithm changes and Twitter updates for me – not that they care for my workload over in California, what with Facebook changing their page layout twice over and Twitter deciding we must all want to tag each other in photos (because if we do it on Facebook and Instagram, of course we need to be able to do it on Twitter.)
But I have noticed two things happening with my Facebook feed that are puzzling me.
- I am seeing a lot of posts from people who I am not directly friends with in my own newsfeed. So, if a friend-of-a-friend posts a birthday message on our mutual friends’ wall, I see a string of these updates in my Latest Posts feed. If a brand tags one of my friends in a photo or post, I see that on my wall too. Why, if I’ve set my privacy settings so that friends-of-friends can’t see my own posts, would Facebook assume I want to see what my friends’ friends are sharing with them?
- Similarly – my friends report seeing posts in their feeds whenever I like or comment on something, even if the post I like or comment on is on the wall of a person they don’t know.
Both these things have been happening for a while, but the frequency with which I’m seeing them seems to be increasing and despite numerous searches I can’t find any way to prevent this.
Has anyone else noticed this? If you’ve any suggestions, I’d love to know. Feel free to leave a comment below, or tweet me…
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