Facebook logoSo have you noticed anything different when videos pop up on your Facebook timeline. Maybe that lots of them start playing automatically? As is normal in the world of social media, things have been changing! Gone are the days of uploading videos to YouTube and then sharing them on Facebook, it’s now far easier to use Facebook’s direct upload player, referred to as Native Video – and more effective.

The lovely people at Silvertip Films carried out a really interesting experiment to discover how the popularity of a video is determined by the way in which it was uploaded. Silvertip had noticed that any of their videos uploaded to YouTube and then linked to from Facebook were getting fewer views than usual and there was a distinct drop in engagement. At the same time Facebook was littered with more and more videos boasting impressively big view counts – and they weren’t YouTube embeds.

Facebook video player had captured the market. And it’s great! You don’t have to click on a video to make it play, it starts automatically as you scroll through your news feed – without sound at first, but you can then click to go to full screen and the audio starts. We’ve all become incredibly lazy and impatient, a ‘want it now’ society – whether it’s the latest Apple gadget or a 30-second movie, it’s all about having what we want without making any discernible effort. And when it comes to video, if there’s something moving on your screen it’s more likely to attract your attention and draw you in to watch to the end – how much more compelling is that than a static image that may look quite boring.

So Silvertip took one of their vlogs and uploaded it to Facebook and YouTube at the same time. Then they monitored what happened:

• 24 hours after posting – 49 views on YouTube v 195 on Facebook.

• One week after posting – 149 views on YouTube v 401 on Facebook. The combined views gave Silvertip their highest ever count within that space of time.

• The Facebook post ‘reached’ 910 people, so just under half of them had actually watched the video.

• Viewer retention – 1.34 minutes on YouTube v 0.44 seconds on Facebook.

• Interaction – 4 comments, 1 like on YouTube v 3 comments, 17 likes and 7 shares on Facebook.

Notice the slightly strange way the statistics go? Less people watched the video on YouTube but viewer retention was far better, it equated to 46% watched for an average of 1.34 minutes compared to only 24% of the Facebook viewers who got through 30 seconds or more. Weird. One possible explanation is that people search out content they actually want to see on YouTube, whereas on Facebook people are potentially less engaged and liable to move on to the next post. It’s also quite possible that audience attention span is shorter if they are accessing Facebook from a mobile device.

Silvertip took their experiment one step further by ‘boosting’ their video on Facebook for a few days. During this time the video received 437 organic views and 374 boosted, with 35 likes, 8 shares and 3 comments. Meanwhile, on YouTube an Adwords promotion achieved an additional 72 views.

The findings aren’t conclusive, other than video gets more views but less actual viewing time on Facebook, and YouTube gets fewer views but longer view times and so suggests greater audience engagement. My good friends at Silvertip have decided that the only way forward is to post on both platforms and keep monitoring performance.

Which is good food for thought. Posting both on Facebook, using Facebook video player, and YouTube opens up the ways in which people can find you. Facebook is great if you have a specific audience that you can target, you may well find that they will watch most of your video if not all of it. But YouTube should not be ignored just yet, especially if you want to really engage with your audience and get your business messages across.

What is your experience of posting video on Facebook and YouTube? Is it different to Silvertips? Do you think it’s different for different types of businesses? I’d love to hear your views.