There have been many questions over Facebook’s aggressive entry into video and some have even questioned whether or not YouTube will lose their #1 position in online video. The short answer is No, and I want to explain why I am that confident to say this. The largest reason YouTube isn’t going to lose it’s hold on the video world is because it’s entrenched and experienced. By that, I mean that you don’t hear someone say “Let me Facebook that” for a video. Video’s just kind of appear (for now) on your newsfeed. They are massively indexed on YouTube which is also the world’s second largest search engine right after Google’s.
It’s not like I have picked a winner or loser at this point. I think both are not only powerful, but also complementary if used correctly. It boils down to using the two of them like a Venn Diagram. Basically, two circles with an overlapping section which I would describe as sweet video marketing goodness. By leveraging both platforms in a symbiotic way you can bring much more reach to your message and that is what we are all after anyways.
I would like to go through each platform’s flaws then discuss the benefits of them. The benefits are more than obvious for many people that will read this so I think it’s not nearly as important to address in the same fashion as the flaws. There is more right with the implementation that wrong so let’s address those issues holding each of them back. So let’s roll right into it!
Facebook is a bit dirty in how they count views. Videos autoplay on mobile in a user’s newsfeed and any click on it counts as one view. It’s so easy to have a “viral” video on Facebook while YouTube takes a lot of skill and amazing content to attract those numbers. I am hopeful that Facebook will continue to tweak its metrics to represent the real numbers, however, that’s not how they will make their money. They make their money by increasing their numbers and embellishing where they can. It’s always been this way and that part isn’t going to change anytime soon. Money rules everything and it’s important to never forget this factor.
Facebook is really hard to index a video, which doesn’t help this “8-second attention span” culture. You don’t really curate content on this behemoth of a platform, you consume it then move forward in a linear fashion. You are always moving forward and that’s where I am a believer that it’s only here to present the “here and now” mentality of it’s hardcore user base. They have a long way to go if they want video archives to be effective in the same manner that you can search for anything on YouTube and get a reasonable result.
Let’s talk freebooting. YouTube videos are finding their way onto Facebook through appropriation without any benefits to the original creator. This might be it’s most challenging flaw to overcome. Sure they can ban, disable accounts and take aggressive stances but that’s not how you continue growing a user base. This is where Facebook and YouTube have the biggest incentive to work together. YouTube could continue bringing in money with Facebook requiring proper credits to the creators and that could prevent Facebook from lawsuits for copyright infringement. We all no that Facebook hates YouTube (because this is a Google product) so I would predict a massive lawsuit before a reasonable agreement between the two. This is a shame because it hurts the creators more than anyone else.
Below are the stats that I could find around the internet. It seems that Facebook isn’t talking much about their video success, but I am not going to speculate about it. Here is what I did find.
Some Facebook Stats (Very difficult to find valid metrics)
- 4 Billion Views per day
- Counts a view after 3 seconds of play, to include mobile autoplay
- Average top video is 1.5 in length and has 3% engagement
- Does not make metrics publicly available
YouTube certainly has it’s own problems such as the vile comments that are left below videos along with the difficulty in getting content to go viral or even discoverable. I love YouTube, but in many ways it has gotten to big to work flawlessly. Perhaps I shouldn’t have that high standard, but as platforms grow, the attention spans are sought after by more and more creators. We have a finite amount of time in each day but the internet keeps expanding. That is YouTube’s problem and perhaps to many people it’s a good one to have.
The chances of going viral or even having more than 100 people view your newly submitted video is an extremely low possibility. This is why the underground sale of views, likes, and comments can be found on places like SEOclerks and other micro-job platforms. Ranking in YouTube is just as difficult as ranking in the first page of Google’s search engine. So many great videos go unwatched and underappreciated. This isn’t the “well they should of had better content” problem either. They just didn’t rise out of the sea of daily uploads.
Let’s address the comment section a little more while we are at this. I have seen some of the most trolling, hateful, racist, misogynist, and other names that could be applied to these words that flow under a video. Google tried tying G+ accounts to reduce this issue but it didn’t work either. I would go as far to say that 4chan is more G-rated than YouTube’s comments. The largest issue here is that it’s been going on for years. When will they take a more meaningful approach to fixing this? My kids have learned so many things from YouTube and daily they ask me if their list of words and phrases are good or bad. More often than not, they are bad. That’s not YouTube’s or the creator’s fault though. I don’t filter their experiences. This doesn’t let them off the hook though.
Let’s address the ad problem as well. It’s no secret that the ads are out of control. It’s the entire reason I run uBlock on my gadgets. YouTube has destroyed the user experience with their implementation of ads that could be as long as 30 minutes. I get an ad in front of every video I watch and it frustrates me. I have tried blocking their ad network IP’s in my firewall, but they still get through. People will continue using ad blocking scripts as long as platforms like YouTube smother us with ads.
Some can justify it by saying the content is free so we should watch them. Let’s get something straight, the internet was not made so people and companies could make money. It was made for communications across distances. We don’t get to control if something is free or not. We simply show up and get whatever is presented to us. YouTube has a big problem ahead of them with ads being blocked and revenues are certainly dropping. Many of us have said no and that practice will continue to grow.
I am sure I could nitpick more and talk about issues like Geoblocking, but YouTube has been around for a long time now and has learned a lot from their mistakes. They even created a Content ID program that tracks copyrighted works. While it sucks and often flags videos that are not subject to DMCA takedowns, at least it’s a start. Facebook has to catch up and it’s hard to do when your competitor has a 10-year head start. Let’s look at some of the recent stats that I could find about YouTube.
- Has Over 1 Billion Users
- 18-34 & 18-49 demographic is larger than cable in the U.S.
- Year Over Year Shows 60% Growth, Fastest Growth in 2 Years
- 80% of Views Comes From Outside the U.S.
- YouTube Has 70 Localized Versions for Other Countries
- It Presents Its Platform in 76 Localized Languages
- 50% of Its Views Are Mobile
- As of October 2014 It Paid Rightsholders $1B
- As of July 2015 It Had 8,000 Partners Using Content ID
- Top Videos Are 12 Mins Long & Have 0.65% Engagement
YouTube Is Still the Video King & Facebook Is Prince
I didn’t set out to make this a YouTube-biased post. It happens to be one-sided due to metrics that are publicly available to compare both platforms. My goal is still to show that with maturity, both platforms can actually compliment and extend a marketer’s reach. YouTube has been the king when it comes to video for a long time. I personally don’t see that changing in the near future.
Facebook can learn a lot from YouTube, but in this situation we have the most to lose and yet, the most to gain. You can leverage both platforms to maximize your brand. Think about being able to shoot two videos to upload to both platforms in their native languages. You can upload to YouTube like you normally do, then take the same video or better yet, the concept and reshoot it for Facebook. People will have a reason to follow you on both platforms because you don’t just upload the same content.
Creating unique content for each platform is very important. I often hear about “repurposing” content but that is for chumps. I want people to have a reason to like, fan, follow, subscribe, or whatever else to all of my accounts. If they can see the same content on each social profile, what reason would they have to connect to all of them? None. You have to be unique and this is a serious opportunity for those that want to find their fans. Shoot the video twice with different information and upload them to both with links to each within your posts. If you do this you have control of the first upload.
This doesn’t stop freebooting, but for now this is the best way for us to natively control our content. After all, that’s what we want right? Also consider that if you go viral on one, it might help the other do the same if you cross-promote correctly. I think Facebook’s video project is going to change the access for many new and older creators. I hope no one out there is snubbing Facebook because you are upset that someone took your video and uploaded it or maybe you just don’t want to use it. You are doing yourself a huge disservice. You need both and you need a strategy.
What does this mean? More work, more creativity, and more execution. You got this though. Keep pushing and experimenting with the features and see what works and what doesn’t and get back to me in the comments below. I want to know your results so we can share them with each other. I am serious too. I want to hear from you on this very topic so login and comment!