Facebook has achieved Google-level greatness, with its video service breaking 4bn daily views. That represents a quadrupling in video views across the site.
According to an in-depth report in Fortune, the Facebook video phenomenon is in full swing. BuzzFeed – which uploads videos directly to the social media site, rather than sharing from other video services – has seen an 80-fold increase in video views in the last year, reaching 500m in April. A series of eight videos from Mic got 33m views over two months.
While these figures are undoubtedly impressive, one has to wonder how much they are artificially buoyed by the default setting that autoplays video as users scroll through the News Feed – a feature inspired by the Harry Potter universe’s Daily Prophet that started rolling out in September 2013.
This certainly plays a part. Facebook’s algorithms record a view after three seconds, meaning that distracted scrolling can ramp up figures and give an unrealistic impression of reach.
In any case, autoplay can only account for a certain number of base-level views. According to Fortune, TYT Network, a digital video start-up, posted a video that received 23m ‘interactions’ (Facebook’s metric for judging views, clicks and shares).
TYT Network’s fans? 3,187.
That’s a lot of sharing.
And Facebook is arguably the perfect medium for virality, with videos being further helped along by tweaks in the site’s at times controversial algorithms.
Brands with more than 1m followers will see their photo posts popping up in the Feeds of 14pc of their fans, text-only posts in only 4pc, and video in a whopping 35pc. That’s immense potential reach for brands, no doubt driving at least part of the increase in video content uploaded to the site.
As a result, Fortune posits that Facebook is now becoming the first real competitor for Google’s YouTube, but we think we’re not quite there yet.
While the numbers are certainly compelling, Facebook’s more complex settings and embed process, and the fact that users are unable to share direct links to Facebook video content with those not registered on the social network, mean that the company is still facing restricted reach.
YouTube videos, on the other hand, are uniquely compatible, viewable and sharable across multiple platforms.
Although that doesn’t mean YouTube shouldn’t be worried.
According to the Fortune article, three quarters of all videos shared to Facebook in February, 2014, were from outside sources. By February of this year, that had reversed, with 70pc of videos on the site uploaded to it directly.
To see who comes out on top in the video war, we may have to – appropriately enough – watch this space.
Video image, via Shutterstock
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