Facebook vs. Youtube: Which Platform You Should Turn to for Video Marketing in 2017

Data from the Hubspot State of Inbound: 2017 is here, and as expected video marketing is growing at an exponential rate.

Some new, interesting statistics show that about half of all marketers questioned said they will be adding Facebook video (46%) or Youtube (48%) to their content distribution strategy in 2017.

I am hoping the other half are ALREADY using either Facebook video or Youtube, because the question is no longer, “should I include video marketing in my distribution strategy?” the question is “how best can this be done?”

This leads to a major fork in the road for many people.

Which platform is best for my video marketing campaigns; Facebook or Youtube?

(spoiler: the answer is you’ll need both.)

Yes, that is correct. The answer is not so black and white, and using one over the other is not going to be a marketing “silver bullet.” As nice as it would be to simply “go – shoot – post” we still have to use our training as marketers to answer some fundamental, key questions.

  1. How does Facebook video differ from Youtube?
  2. Who are we trying to reach?
  3. What are the goals of our specific campaigns?
  4. What type of video content do we intend to use?


Understanding the Platform and User Experience

Although both Facebook and Youtube have video functions, it is important that we understand how different these platforms are. In general, we can think of Facebook as the “in the moment” video platform, while Youtube is the “evergreen” video platform. Why? For a few reasons.

1. Search Function

With a parent like Google, the search function for Youtube is obviously quite robust. Finding the video you are looking for on Youtube is quite an easy task. Compare that to Facebook. Have you ever tried searching for a video on Facebook that you saw in your feed? If you don’t remember who shared it, finding the video on Facebook using keywords can be nearly impossible. Although Facebook is taking steps to remedy this situation, they are a long way away from Youtube’s search-friendly experience. This is one reason many people use Youtube to host their longer, long-term videos or “evergreens” as we call them.

2. Impulse Views

On the other hand, how often do we just go to the Youtube homepage and start scrolling, waiting to see what is served up to us? Rarely, because that is not what Youtube is built for. Facebook, however, serves up videos in your feed “in the moment” relying on these impulse views to catch your attention. The popularity of Facebook Live only further entrenched Facebook into this corner. It requires a very different marketing strategy because the platform and experience is different for the user.

3. Recorded “Views”

By the end of 2015, Facebook made headlines by surpassing 8 billion video views per day, a number that had doubled in less than a year. However, it is important to point out when Facebook considers a video “viewed” as opposed to Youtube.

3 Seconds vs. 30 Seconds

Yes, Facebook counts a view after a mere 3 seconds of playtime, and because of the Facebook autoplay feature, this can happen even as you are mindlessly scrolling through your feed. This difference shows us that Facebook understands and aheres to how users are generally using the platform.

4. Organic Traffic and Embedded Video

When is the last time you had a Facebook video return in a Google search? I am tempted to use the word “never” here. The reason is quite simple. Google owns Youtube, so Youtube videos are returned in Google searches.

Not to be cheated, Facebook runs their own priority scheme. Have you ever noticed the difference between an embedded Youtube video posted to Facebook versus a Facebook video? It is quite alarming to look at them side by side.

This example comes from jasondoesstuff.com and shows the drastic difference between the two.

credit: jasondoesstuff.com

Which video are you more likely to click? Not to mention the fact that the Youtube embed will not autoplay. It is quite clear that Facebook is “encouraging” users to post natively rather than embedding from other sites.

Now that we understand some general differences between the two platforms, we can move on to our own marketing questions.


Who Am I Trying To Reach?

Yes, we are talking about the target market here, but it is so much more than that. Our content approach needs to vary depending on where our target market might be in their buyer’s journey, and that can alter not only what type of content we are sharing, but also which platform we decide to share it on. For these questions, we turn to our Buyer Personas, and how we can use video throughout the entirety of the buyer’s journey.

For instance, our target market may include a very specific group of people, but in order to reach this group in the right place and at the right time, we need to create content that will intrigue, entertain and entice further action from them. This content can and should look quite different depending on whether this group is ready to buy or just starting their buyer’s journey, and this will dictate where the content is shared.


What Am I Trying To Accomplish?

A simple question, yet so easy to skip over when we are faced with the availability of a new, flashy medium with which to “wow” our audiences. The overall goals of your campaign can and will affect which platform you need to use, as well as the content you need to create.

For instance;

  • is the intended goal to simply get a lot of eyes on our brand, or are we looking to strengthen brand loyalty?
  • is the purpose of your content to increase the Goodwill of your company, or are you aiming to answer specific questions for those people who are deep in your marketing funnel?

Admittedly, these goals lack the SMART ideology, but we can start with these vague descriptions when pursuing a platform decision. Our target personas will dictate our goals for that market which will in turn dictate what type of content we need to make which will finally dictate where that content will be shared.


Content Type

Fast and Furious on Facebook

According to this study from Locowise, after pulling data from 1,000 Facebook pages, the average video length ran 55.3 seconds, but the average watch time for these videos was only 18.3 seconds. That means users are watching about 1/3 of entire videos on Facebook. If your video is running over the minute mark, posting to Facebook might not make sense unless you know that is where your target personas are consuming content.

Another strong data point is the autoplay vs. click-to-play statistic. According to the same study, 78.2% of these views were autoplays. Only a mere 21.8% were clicked to include full sound.

For this reason, our Facebook videos should include captions to not only show users what the video is about, but to further entice them to continue watching and/or click the video.

To really put this point to bed we can look at Facebook “30 Second Views.” These are views that last at least 30 seconds OR an entire video, whichever comes first. For instance, a 23 second video watched in its entirety would be considered a 30 Second View.

Interestingly, 53.2% of all Facebook video views are 30 Second Views. So if the average watch time is only 18.2 seconds, but more than half of all views are considered “30 Second Views”, then we can conclude that videos that run less than 30 seconds are being watched in their entirety. Not only that, but these “30 Second View” videos were clicked roughly 11% more often than longer videos. This means that shorter videos seem to perform better than videos that run past the 30 second mark. This is a vital thing to remember when creating video content for Facebook.

Unfold the Story on Youtube

Youtube on the other hand seems to be the place to really craft your story. Shockingly, only 20% of viewers will bounce from a Youtube video within the first 10 seconds. This can be due to a number of different reasons, but I believe the main one is the fact that these videos were more than likely searched for by the user, or served up as similar content after the end of another video. Youtube does an incredible job in auto-starting new videos that are very similar to the previously viewed videos.

Numerous studies, like this one from TubularInsights further explain the wide gap between Facebook video and Youtube. With the average video on Youtube being 10X longer than those on Facebook, the deeper and longer the video on Youtube, the more likely you are to get responses, comments and likes. This is the platform to really unfold your brand’s story and answer those deep funnel questions.


How To Do Video Marketing in 2017

Armed with all this new information, how should we move forward in our video marketing for 2017? Here are some general guidelines.

facebook vs youtube

Obviously videos can be shared on both platforms, but remember your target market, the persona you are targeting and how each platform is designed to work.

Video Hosting

A great alternative is to host your videos on a third party platform, like Vidyard. Vidyard is an amazing tool that not only hosts your videos, but allows you to push these videos to your preferred marketing channel. It also gathers tons of data on each view AND lets you include CTA’s directly in the video.


What’s Next

It is obvious that Facebook has their eyes set on the future with video. While Youtube is staying fairly consistent and happy as a video hosting platform, Facebook has opened its social media game up to include original “TV like” showsas soon as this June. These shows will reportedly run between 5-30 minutes. For ad buyers, this could be break they have been waiting for; a marriage between the old-school advertising game and social media marketing. However, only time will tell if this move to become all things to all people will be a hit for Facebook or drive away more users that remember a simpler Facebook experience.

oldschool facebook post

Future Predictions

Youtube could go either way… bending to become more “social” in nature to increase engagement time from users, or solidify itself as the “long-engagement-view” site. In either case, the goal will obviously be to keep visitors as long as possible. Currently Youtube is primarily monetized through ads within videos. A shift away from that to engage in more social endeavors would not necessarily increase revenue unless major changes were made to the site structure.

I can see both platforms aiming to attract and keep the coveted Millennial crowd. Youtube now reaches more viewers between the ages of 18-34 in the US than any cable network. Perhaps this is the reason for their “ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude. In contrast, Facebook has seen Millennials shifting away in preference for other social sites like Snapchat. Not to go down without a fight, I believe we will see more and more changes coming to Facebook in the coming year in an effort to reverse this trend. For more in-depth information on the buying and viewing habits of Millennials see our post here.

As we stated at the beginning, we should be ready to invest time and money into both Facebook video and Youtube for our content distribution in 2017. To ignore one is more than just ignoring a specific group, but it could also mean we are ignoring our target market in specific points of the buyer’s journey.

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