Should you upload your video content to Facebook or YouTube?

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My brother, like many others during lockdown, has started to produce online content. His video blog — What am I drinking? — touches on the subject he’s studied for years to become an expert in. Wanting to increase his reach, he asked me whether it made more sense to upload his videos to YouTube or directly to Facebook. I love questions like these. They don’t have simple answers and require more questions to find out which platform better suits your goals.

I am no engineer. I’ve worked in marketing, focusing on paid media, for nine years but I wanted to do research on how to promote his content organically. I thought this might be useful for others as it is predicted that by 2022, videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic; 15 times higher than it was in 2017 (source).

It is great to get on the video wagon and experiment as you go along, what works for each person might differ. But before doing so you might want to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each platform.

Did you know that 87% of the Maltese population have active accounts on Facebook, with YouTube at 46%, Instagram at 24%, Twitter at 12%, and Pinterest at 9% (source). These figures are from 2018, I’m curious to know what they would look like now seeing as two years can make all the difference. My bet is that Facebook would have decreased its hold slightly and Instagram to have increased.

With Facebook and YouTube being the two largest social media platforms in Malta I decided to focus on those.

What to consider before starting a video blog:

Why are you doing this?

Similar to when you do anything in life, ask yourself why you are doing it? Is it to grow awareness and get eyeballs on your content? Is it to drive traffic to your website and a conversion, such as buying or downloading something?

Without a goal as a measure, it is much harder to know if your content is doing well.

Who are you targeting?

Knowing your audience is key. Who are you trying to target? What meaningful points do you want them to takeaway? Who else are they watching on the same subject?

It may not be easy to know who your audience might be before you start, but it’s a good start to know who you’d want to reach.

Is it short or long term messaging?

Short term messaging typically has a deadline. Something that is no longer relevant once it has passed a certain date. This could be content for events, offers, and competitions.

Long term messaging is for content that would

Is it content that your followers will likely watch once or is it educational and they may want to refer to it again in the future. If it is short term such as promoting a party next week, facebook will really succeed with content that relies on a social lift, it will peak quickly and then disappear at the same speed. You cannot search for a video on Facebook but you definitely can search on Youtube. Also on Facebook you are more likely to get more shares and comments, but as soon as they stop your video will unlikely be seen again.

This means that if you need staying power also known as long term, YouTube will succeed. If you have a time sensitive/ important video that unlikely needs to be referred to in the future than Facebook will help to put it in front of as many of your followers as possible in the shortest time.

Do you want to reach as many people as possible or do you want it searchable so people can find it later?

Facebook’s upside is that your content is placed natively within a followers feed and more than half login in several times a day. Whereas on YouTube active users on average login once a day. A native hosted video on Facebook will be shown to your followers. It will also be shown to anyone that interacts with your content and so on which helps your video reach a lot of people quite quickly. Whereas on YouTube unless you have more than 301 views, YouTube will not bring your video up to the homepage or share it as recommendations.

Fun fact, have you ever wondered why you see views sometimes frozen at 301? This is because if a video has been watched less than 300 times, YouTube’s algorithm will decides if it is a view, whereas after it has been viewed more than 300 times a human actually manually checks the validity of the views.

Facebook is great to get a high reach in a short time, but on YouTube once you pass the 301 video view mark, you become searchable and can be recommended on someones YouTube homepage.

This means that your followers are more likely to come across your video on Facebook than if you share it on just YouTube. Though, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world so they can watch it over and over again and share it as many times as they want.

Are you classifying how good a video is based on your view counts?

A view is when someone watches a video, right?

Yes, but Facebook and YouTube classify them quite differently. On Facebook a view is when someone watched it for 3 seconds or more, whereas on YouTube it is any view from someone that the algorithm considers a valid user and watches 30 seconds or more. This means that if you have less video views on YouTube does not necessarily mean less people started watching it. But if you have more views on Youtube, the quality is much better as they would have watched the video for longer than 30 seconds.

Where are you uploading your video?

You are more likely to get a higher view count when you upload the video natively on Facebook than on YouTube.

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Videos look different if you upload the video natively on Facebook (Left) or if you link a YouTube video on Facebook (Right)

When sharing a YouTube video link on Facebook, Facebook’s algorithm will not push it as much as if you uploaded it directly to Facebook. The algorithm favours its own content. So much so, Facebook will autoplay videos uploaded directly to it, but would not autoplay a youtube video. You would need to click to play a YouTube video.

Also if you share a YouTube video, the thumbnail on your followers feed will be much smaller than if you uploaded it directly to Facebook (image on the right). This means that natively hosted videos are much more appealing and more likely to be watched (not just because I chose a Tom Hardy video in my example above).

So should you use Facebook or YouTube to share your video content?

My brother is still trying to figure out what his goal is, and thats fine. It takes some time to find your voice, and the journey is just as important. I have recommended to upload directly to Facebook but also share the YouTube link in the description. This way he is using Facebooks great social lift to promote himself and his love of wine, but also followers can search for him on Youtube months after. Remember it is also important to consider that it is not one or the other, they could also work beautifully together if you play to their strengths and weaknesses.

Therefore, after understanding your ‘why’, you can now tailor your strategy to what works best for your goal. As the type of content you share, audience you want, and your goal whether it is awareness or conversion, will dictate which platform you should use. All these factors; long vs short term message, how reach works on both platforms, the difference between their view counts, and how they push their own content will all have an impact on your performance.

Hope this helps, or you learnt something new. After I started writing this, I realised how much more I wanted to say. My next post will dive a bit deeper with some tips on how to increase your reach and view counts.

Digital Strategy Consultant | Malta | Online Marketing Services