Facebook vs YouTube: The Battle For Video Content

August 5, 2016

Video content is not only an integral part of any marketing campaign and content publishing, but it is also estimated to surpass 75% of all consumer-based internet traffic in the coming three years.

The digital video space lured many online video platforms – your Snapchats, Instagrams and Vines to name a few. Even the older platforms – read: Facebook – adopted videos, and have since been polishing their video appearance, experience, consumption and especially video insights.

Facebook’s hot

By the second half of 2015, Facebook already enjoyed 4 billion daily video views, and in just six months, doubled to surpass 8 billion.

The thing about Facebook is that it delivers videos to the viewer mixed in with very personal posts and photos of friends and family- without a doubt motivating them to engage and connect on a personal level.

Moreover, we’ve seen Facebook update its algorithm cleverly to take into consideration all sorts of user trends. After all, Facebook does sniff massive amounts of user data, and in fact forces you to be logged in to watch any video on the platform, which lets those Data Scientists understand how we interact with video content in general, as well as who we are in specific.

Finally, given the powerful targeting Facebook provides its advertisers, video content creators can make sure the right people are watching the video, which usually means that the appropriate videos show up on your timeline

I think it’s safe to say that Facebook adopted perfectly to the new circumstances.

YouTube’s rock solid

On the other hand, YouTube is a top search engine, and hence gives you an extra advantage of SEO. And given how actual views are calculated, YouTube’s retention’s graph a lot less horrific than that of Facebook.

You also have to remember that YouTube is the place for archiving and later searching for videos. While Facebook strategically pops up those emotional and timely relevant videos between photos and messages of your loved ones, their life span is short. YouTube, however, keeps collecting those views over time, and the first day may only represent a fifth of the views it gathers by the time it plateaus.

Interestingly enough, on Facebook, you need interaction and engagement to keep your video‚Äôs reach pumping, but once this engagement wanes, it rapidly sinks to the bottom. But YouTube videos will always be there for those who search for them. And very few publishers now that you can embed Facebook videos in websites and blogs, and therefore it’s YouTube that monopolizes the extra-social exposure.

What sucks about both

Back in the glorious days of the free and fair interwebs, a cool video penetrated people’s minds and hearts instantly. YouTube views used to be proportionate to the thoughts and emotions invested by the creator. And just like the oldies, that slowly but surely died out, and the contrast was shocking when Facebook rolled out it’s aggressive video component that spread those motion pictures like wildfire.

Now we’re back to the dark days when organic reach was non-existent. Both on YouTube and on Facebook, love and hard work are not enough to get your audience consuming your videos. You now need to pay and you need to pay big. Given Facebook’s targeting capabilities, and the discomforting amounts of data they collect from all of us, it is much cheaper and effective to boost your video content on Facebook instead of YouTube – but more on that in a later post.

You’d think the sky high competition between the two would place the reach in the hands of the tail-end of content creators. But between hogging the audience on the platform, and choosing what to show to whom, it becomes tough to break through to the people who would normally enjoy consuming your video content.

As for the ongoing battle between Facebook and YouTube, it’s unclear how things will shape up. But by the looks of it, YouTube’s losing grip and Facebook’s penetrating and monopolizing video content discovery and consumption (see how Facebook and YouTube calculate the different types of views). And more spending, in terms of production, but particularly with distribution, is being gifted to Facebook as YouTube struggles to recruit new fans and followers to stick to it like back in the day. There could also be a scenario where they comfortably complement each other, in which case YouTube would be the archive for all long-form content, music and films, and Facebook focus more on short, timely content.

In the next post we’ll talk about whether we should be publishing our videos on Facebook, or YouTube…and how.

Facebook video analytics tool to analyze the performance of your videos

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