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Native Facebook Video

Posted 16 September 2014 11:05 AM by Chelsey Binkley & Bridget Belfield

Videos, videos and more videos.

Have you noticed a recent upsurge in videos in your news feed lately? You know videos can go viral on social, but do you understand why?

Yes, you’ve seen all your friends’ children singing “Let It Go” in your newsfeed, but did you know that by uploading these videos on Facebook, your friends are putting their videos one step closer to potential stardom?

Facebook recently unveiled new features to its video player — competing with YouTube’s capabilities. Now videos directly uploaded to Facebook will include a view counter for public videos, allowing fans to easily navigate the top videos on the page based on views. This is key for brands in creating and posting videos.

This counter feature comes on the heels of recent data showing a surge in video views on Facebook in the last few months. According to The New York Times, users have watched an average of 1 billion (yes, BILLION) videos per day on the social channel since June. That’s a 50% increase in video views from May–June 2014. Now that’s impressive! Also, more than two-thirds of those video views are on a mobile device (yes, while you’re probably sitting in traffic), which further reinforces the importance of mobile-friendly video.

So what is native video and how is it different than posting a YouTube video link?

Native video is uploaded as a raw file directly to Facebook — versus posting a video as a link from an external site such as YouTube. A few guardrails for native video, in case your brand is ready to give it a try, include:

  • All video files are supported, but mp4 format is recommended
  • Resolution should be 1080p or under (to optimize upload HD video)
  • For best upload experience, upload files that are less than 750MB
  • Videos must be less than 20 mins. long (longer videos, aka larger files, will affect the quality of the video and the time it takes to upload)

Native video didn’t historically perform better in the Facebook social channel. However, in the recent past, native video has actually begun to outperform external video links. A study from Socialbakers shows that of selected video posts analyzed between December 4, 2012 and March 3, 2013, the Facebook videos had higher organic reach than YouTube links and even outperformed YouTube links in viral reach.

The study also found that Facebook native videos have higher engagement, which can be attributed to the ability to play native video within a mobile news feed (this is important because two-thirds of video views are from mobile devices).

So have we convinced you to post natively vs. using a YouTube link yet? In case you need more convincing, native videos also work to a brand’s advantage because Facebook prioritizes the distribution of native videos to target audiences. More specifically, the platform’s algorithm evaluates the likes, comments, shares and watch times of native video (and does not evaluate engagement of videos uploaded from outside sources), which could help to increase shares, views and visibility to target audiences (Source: Ad Age). 

Another fact to remember, video posts receive more interaction than other types of posts (Source: The New York Times). Facebook is particularly valuable to drive a spike in video views when a video is first released. For example, Beyoncé posted a behind-the-scenes video from her live performance at the MTV Video Music Awards on Facebook and YouTube. Within a few hours, the video was viewed over 2 million times on Facebook. On YouTube, the video was viewed only a few thousand times during the same period. The New York Times attributes this to the fact that when Beyoncé’s 64 million Facebook fans saw the video in their news feeds, they immediately shared it with their friends — increasing the reach and views of the video rapidly.

Another brand already using native video to reach fans is Discovery. Back in August, during the ever-popular Shark Week, Discovery Channel launched a campaign called #SnuffyLives where it revived the seal that was swallowed by a shark during last year’s promotion. The video that introduced the campaign was viewed by over 15 million fans organically over the course of the week.

While Discovery’s native video placement was organic, there are benefits to paid placements as well.

Digital video advertising is growing at unprecedented rates of more than 40% year over year (Source: eMarketer). Benefits of native video vs. external video links for paid media placements include:

  • A 5.5x lower cost per video play(in comparison to YouTube video plays) 
  • 30% higher video play rate (number of clicks on the ad unit which are video play clicks)
  • 3.5x lower CPC than videos posted from another player (such as YouTube)

Overall, native videos work to a brand’s advantage — if Facebook is your brand’s primary channel and content destination. Native videos are designed to look better in news feeds and receive more engagement because the platform is built for these videos and therefore encourages more use of Facebook’s in-house facilities (Source: Business2Community). However, we don’t expect to see YouTube videos disappearing from the news feed quite yet as they still boast better SEO and a strong network of influencers and creators.

What do you think about Facebook’s new native video features? Which would you choose for your brand when posting a video?

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