Here’s Why You Should Stop Comparing YouTube and Facebook Views

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Comparing views across different social media platforms is being carelessly done online either by tech media, or by video creators themselves. Doing this can be very misleading since Facebook and YouTube views aren’t counted in the same way. The method by which the viewers find the videos are completely different too, giving a big gap in the value of the views for each platform. Let’s learn what counts as YouTube views and Facebook views.

Facebook video views

Facebook views are counted after a video is played for three seconds. Since all Facebook videos are set to auto-play, all videos on your Newsfeed are actually counted as a view even when you didn’t even take a look at them. For example, if your video appears on the Newsfeed of 100,000 Facebook users, you would have 100,000 video views too.

This is the same as how Instagram video views are counted. Three seconds of video play already count as a view, and all of the videos are set to auto-play.

YouTube video views

Video views on YouTube are counted differently. Put simply, views are counted if the video is played for 30 seconds. The computation though gets a bit complicated when the number of views goes over 300. It’s unclear how YouTube calculates the views, but it’s clear that the site changed the way views are calculated after the initial 300 views to avoid abuse. Before YouTube made the change, video creators or viewers can just reload the video again to increase the number of views. Some even use bots to do this.

YouTube now has employed more people to monitor the quality of video views and freezes the view count of those suspected of using bots. Our estimate is that after 300 views, YouTube computes views by looking at the total number of people x the rate of people who choose to watch the video x retention rate at 30 seconds. For our example of 100,000 people cited above, let’s assume that people watch around 20% of videos on the page, and the retention rate after 30 seconds is 80%. 100,000 x 20% x 80% would be 16,000 views.

We admit that we made a lot of assumptions here, but you see the difference. All videos that pass by your Facebook Newsfeed are counted as views even when people don’t actually watch them. The video needs to play for three seconds only, and all videos are auto-playing. On YouTube, videos need to be watched for more than 30 seconds for a view to be counted.

Facebook vs. YouTube view count: Viewer intention

Aside from the way views are calculated, what sets YouTube apart from Facebook and Instagram is the intention of the viewer. On Facebook, videos can be likened to billboards and posters you see on the streets. They create exposure, but you weren’t exactly looking for them or you don’t intend to look at them. They just happened to cross your line of vision.

You probably go on Facebook to see updates from friends and your community. You don’t go there to learn something from videos.

YouTube is different. People usually search for a topic and have every intention to watch videos. It’s like going inside a McDonalds with an intention to eat; it just boils down to selecting a specific meal from the menu. This is why audience retention on YouTube is higher than on Facebook.

There is, therefore, a wide difference when it comes to the value of the views. While Facebook counts more views, the value in terms of sale conversion is not that much. On the other hand, YouTube views are much more valuable as the viewers already have a motive for searching out the specific topic.

What this means for video creators

As video creators and digital marketers, you could be used to posting your video content on YouTube and uploading the same content separately on Facebook. You might find that the one on Facebook has a lot more views than on YouTube, making you think that Facebook is a much better place for your videos.

Now that you know how different the value of video views on Facebook from that of YouTube, and how they are counted differently on each platform, you won’t be forming decisions based on misleading comparisons.

Date: June 14, 2019 / Categories: View Tactics, / Author: Rich Drees


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