Video on Facebook: If it’s not native, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.


You need to be posting your video content natively on Facebook.

If you don’t, you’re not getting the best possible bang for your buck with your video spend, and I’ll prove it below. But first, some backstory…

For my current company, MUTANT, video is one of the cornerstones of our marketing strategy. Lots of video, in a variety of formats. In the U.S. market a full 38% of our consumers say our video content was their first touchpoint with the brand. Since we started down the video path several years ago, YouTube was always our distribution channel. Fast-forward about three years and we now have 215,000 subscribers to our YouTube channel.

Facebook has always been important to us as well, but it’s primary use was to send folks to our YouTube channel to consume our video content. We now have just under 400,000 followers on our Facebook page. Over the past several years I, (along with the rest of the marketing world), have noticed several trends with these two platforms:

  1. Facebook has become a pay-to-play platform with very little organic reach.

  2. YouTube has become more and more click bait-y. It’s really all about the thumbnail, and if you don’t have a compelling thumbnail its hard to get much traction.

I have no problem with Facebook becoming pay-to-play, as that creates just as many opportunities as problems. We find our highest conversion rate and lowest CPE (Cost Per organic-reachEngagement) on Facebook compared with any other platform, (including programmatic display advertising,) and for the most part, everyone is on Facebook. No, it’s not cool anymore, but it works, and its cheap. Simple as that.

On YouTube we’ve noticed some serious problems and a drop-off on viewership of our more complex, long-form videos. Our flagship series, Mutant On A Mission, (think Anthony Bourdain’s show, except visiting gyms around the world instead of restaurants), has seen decreased numbers even though the series content itself is actually improving. The people that see it absolutely love it, but because of the complexity of the show, there often isn’t a simple way to create a compelling thumbnail. We can’t show a close up of a huge bulging muscle (which we’ve noticed from other videos usually performs quite well), or girls butts. In other words, we can’t click-bait our way to views with this series.

Like I mentioned previously, we had always just pasted the YouTube link into Facebook to distribute the video there. That method has always had problems, such as the even-smaller thumbnail Facebook automatically creates for embedded YouTube videos. But that was what was SOP for most folks. Qualitatively, we began to notice that just like all other content on Facebook, organic reach was plummeting. Videos posted this way were only reaching 2.95% of our followers, on average.

Now, it’s extremely obvious to anyone that’s paid attention that Facebook is aggressively pushing video. We knew this, but didn’t know the extent. So we started an experiment. We collected data from the past year on Organic Reach and Engagement on YouTube videos embedded into Facebook. Then over the past several months we posted our new videos natively to Facebook, (uploaded directly to Facebook rather than linking to a YouTube videos.) Additionally, we used Rev.com to create caption files for each of our new, natively-posted videos.

The results are SHOCKING, and I don’t say that lightly. Check out these averages:

Youtube video embedded in Facebook- Reach: 11,300 Engagement: 230 

Video posted natively to Facebook- Reach: 32,337 Engagement: 468

That means that videos posted natively to Facebook see organic reach that is TRIPLE the YouTube-embedded videos, as well as engagement that is DOUBLE.

Facebook has something that YouTube doesn’t: AUTOPLAY. It’s not about the thumbnail on Facebook. It’s about a compelling first few seconds. Add in the captions and you’ve got a winner. (Something about captions draw the eye… think about watching a movie that is in English but has closed captions turned on. Don’t you find yourself reading the captions, even if you can actually hear the audio? I do.)

YouTube remains, and will remain the video search engine. That’s not going to change no matter how hard Facebook tries. If you are looking for a video on a specific subject you go to Youtube. But Facebook-native video clearly has some incredible advantages. That counts for both organic posts but also video ads, and promoted, targeted posts.

The solution is not to abandon YouTube, that’s not my point. My point is you need to upload and post your video natively in both places, and the data clearly backs up that distribution method. Good video content is very expensive, and you’ll see a much better ROI doing it this way than the old-school embeds. Triple the reach and double the engagement? Yes please!



Want further support for the above blog post? Consider this case-study. We posted a viral-style video to Facebook we created called the Broposal. It was our most successful video on Facebook ever, with hundreds of thousands of views, thousands of shares, and many thousands of engagements. We posted it natively, and included captions. The same video on Youtube gathered less than 5,000 views. Boom! Check it out below.


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