/Mark Welker

Facebook Video: what's changed and what to do about it

A little over a year ago when we talked about putting a video online, we talked mostly about the two big video publishing platforms Youtube and Vimeo.

Some people preferred the cleaner more sophisticated look of the Vimeo player with its great community and influencer opportunities. While others preferred the universal support and audience reach of Youtube. Of course there has always been plenty of options, but when we talked about distributing our content it was mostly a conversation about finding a publishing platform and then using its features to distribute our content across networks. Fast forward a year, and things have certainly changed.

Social platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook are quickly becoming content publishing demigods of their own, each offering distinct advantages to publishing content natively in their networks. 

In particular, we thought we’d catch up on a few key changes happening with Facebook Video, including that network's autoplay feature, and why it's changed the game for how you get your video online.

What is Facebook video today?

In late 2013 Facebook announced that it would roll out autoplay on videos uploaded directly to its network. Autoplay videos initially play silently, and tapping on them (on mobile or desktop) engages the sound. According to a report by Socialbakers, Facebook's algorithm prioritises native videos to make up about 30% of the news Feed.

It’s taken a while for the feature to hit all territories and all devices, but now its here and its a big game changer.

How has it changed?

Facebook says autoplay has helped push a 50% growth in video views from May to July last year, with more than 65% of video views happening on mobile. SocialBakers reports that in November 2014, Facebook video posts exceeded the number of Youtube videos shared on Facebook in the same month.

Ad age says Facebook is now being converted into a video-first property, with the number of videos showing up in people’s news feeds up by 360% compared to last year.

In December 2014, Facebook followed up autoplay with a re-design of its video section. Techcrunch reports

“Facebook wants to make its home for businesses less like a newspaper that come to you and more like TV channels you turn on.”

So that means featured videos and playlists to start, and a new home for branded video that may (in the medium term) give Youtube a run for its money.

BI FacebookVideoPage3 0315

And what about metrics? From May 2014 Facebook started the roll out of more detailed insights for videos, including audience retention, comparisons between autoplay and click to play, unique vs repeat views, paid vs organic (for sponsored posts) and Cost per View. The new uploader also includes the ability to add a call to action link, which is included in the metrics dashboard.

For excel junkies, you can export this data too. It’s not terribly pretty just yet, but most of the metrics available in the dash come down in the export.

BI FacebookVideoStats 0315

The catch? Well you only get this wealth of video intelligence if you upload direct to Facebook. Ad Age suggests that Youtube videos are now at a distinct disadvantage, with Facebook’s algorithms evaluating content based on likes, watch time, comments and shares.

That means without autoplay on Youtube videos, Facebook has no data with which to gauge at least aspect of Youtube video engagement. 

Why should you care?

Facebook says that in the US more than 50% of people who come back to Facebook every day watch at least one video daily.

A 2014 study by the IAB in April last year suggested that more than half of surveyed users reported their viewing of digital video as ‘unplanned’, with social media playing a key role in the discoverability of their watched content.

Facebook autoplay presents an enticing opportunity for brands and individuals who want to get their content discovered. Facebook video turns up more often, looks more engaging, and offers great opportunities for linking off site or back to a more usable video channel. Plus you’ll find plenty of interest in the new video metrics.

It feels a little like the day when website owners realised that mobile browsing wasn’t going away, and that supporting multiple devices would become the norm.

I guess audiences don't always gather where you want them to, and often hang out in many places at once. You just have to follow them around until the technology catches up.

But from a creators point of view, Facebook video now makes total sense.

Right now, seeing a video autoplay in your feed seems so natural and intuitive, it’s hard to believe we existed so long without it.

No doubt as time goes on and algorithms adjust, we’ll see a dampening of the prominence of autoplay, and not everyone likes the change. But with the right content delivered to the right audience, the future of Facebook video looks pretty bright.

What to do about it?

  • Upload videos directly to Facebook (and whatever other platform of choice you have).
  • Invest a time to bring your Facebook video page into line with your other video channels (such as Youtube).
  • Work with your production company to create video edits for Facebook with these best practices.
  • Use Facebook insights to evaluate which video content that best engages with your Facebook audience.

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