THE BLOG

Facebook's Incredible Video View Stats Are Great News For Publishers, Here's Why...

22/10/2014 16:58 BST | Updated 22/12/2014 10:59 GMT

Facebook recently released a fairly astounding statistic - the social networking behemoth has passed1 billion video views a day.

One billion.

The company have been pushing for publishers to upload video content directly onto pages using their inline player and rolling out auto-play to boost views.

They said:

"Growth in video views exceeded 50% from May through July of this year, and since June there has been an average of more than 1 billion video views on Facebook every day. Video on Facebook was built to be mobile first, and now more than 65% of video views are on mobile. And we're just getting started."

So what does it mean for publishers like the Huffington Post?

In August the social networking site surpassed YouTube for desktop video views for the first time, helped by a change in algorithm to push video into the newsfeeds of more people (and that oh-so-viral phenomenon, the #icebucketchallenge).

The root of why video content is performing better on Facebook than YouTube is simple and illustrated amply by Beyonce.

In September a video of her MTV performance was posted on both platforms. In four hours Facebook had totted up 2.4 million views compared to just a few thousand on YouTube.

It's just much easier to share stuff on Facebook and although they still trail Google on non-desktop views the upward trend is undeniable.

All impressive stuff. But is it worth missing out on click-throughs by uploading directly onto Facebook, rather than simply publishing a link to watch the video on our site?

We've been experimenting with uploading a variety of videos using the inline video player with varying degrees of success, but crucially, they can all actually be called successes.

I'll start with an average post...

sloths

33,000 video views (20% of which watched over 95% of the whole video) 500 likes and nearly a 1000 shares. Not too shabby for a page with 70,000 likes.

Similarly we've had success on our usually much more serious Politics page.

pols

And then, very occasionally, something like this happens...

pools

Nearly six million views and a shares total that dwarfs how many people follow the page.

The total amount of people who have seen this post recently passed 17,000,000 and continues to rise despite going up nearly three weeks ago.

And it's not all cats, puppies and comedy mash-ups. A trailer for an Al-Jazeera film we hosted about the drug epidemic in Pakistan did well too, and drove traffic to an article containing the full-length film.

At this point I should address a rather glaring issue - while views are all well and good, what's the long term plan if Facebook videos don't ultimately send people to to our site? As a profitable video strategy becomes more and more crucial in most newsrooms, this can't be ignored.

There are other ways to direct people to our site by including links in the post but it's important to remember that there are other benefits.

Off the back of the last post, the Comedy page had a huge surge in likes and reach, something that we've seen across other verticals after a video post does exceptionally well.

As a consequence, subsequent posts reach more people and get more engagement.

So basically what is a win for Facebook is a win for us, we just have to capitalise on these changes when they happen.