Facebook burst onto the scene as a credible rival to YouTube. But it has a problem: Just about all the action takes place in a single burst.
A video uploaded by a brand to Facebook accounts for 95 percent of the brand’s views over the next week, according to video analytics platform Visible Measures. The reason: Facebook’s algorithm-powered news feed is optimized for fresh content, and users don’t yet think of Facebook as a place to hunt down a video. In that case, YouTube is still far ahead.
Facebook has made some improvements to make it easier for people to find content they want to watch. It now allows users to save links to content, and it is currently testing a video-suggestion feature.
“There was a time on Facebook when there was no news feed. In order for you to really get updates on what people were doing, you had to go to their page,” said Brian Shin, founder and CEO of Visible Measures. “What the news feed did was it aggregated all of that and made it easy for people to keep on top of things.”
August data from Newswhip showed that among the top 20 publishers on Facebook by video shares, their most popular videos consistently received the “overwhelming bulk” of engagement for the month. For instance, U.K. publisher Unilad’s biggest video of the month accounted for 23.4 percent of total video shares the publisher accumulated that month. The combination of Vocativ’s two biggest videos accounted for almost 88 percent of their August video shares. Perez Hilton only cracked the top 20 because one of his uploads went viral.
“The search box is pretty much the first thing you see on Facebook on mobile and desktop,” said Shin. “But people only do Facebook searching by name; being able to search by keyword or topic, that could solve the conundrum for marketers who want their entire portfolio [of videos] to be watched.”
“It’s not a short-term issue,” said Noah Mallin, head of social at MEC North America. “But I think as the platform evolves, they will want to make search a more robust feature — it’s in their interest to make [Facebook video] not just a lean-back experience but also an on-demand platform.”
Facebook is building a search engine. But it’s not a product it expects to have ready for years, according to comments made by CEO Mark Zuckerberg early last year.
“Google has a search-first mentality: Everything that’s ever been created is available at your fingertips. Facebook is on the other end of the spectrum, with a greater focus on what was recently shared or liked by your friends and the people you follow,” said Shin. “If you can imagine a scenario where info needs to be consumed in both ways, that’s where Google and Facebook seem to be headed toward. That’s going to be a big battle.”