- Shorter videos were doing better than longer ones
- Algorithm changes mean longer videos now have a better chance
Was anyone else starting to notice Facebook videos were all getting a bit samey?
For a long time now, best practice for creating Facebook videos has been to make them work with no sound, and at a length of about 15 seconds.
The reason for this was that Facebook was measuring the success of a video by ‘percent completion’ – or the proportion of it being watched by most people.
A video watched to 75% of its length was deemed ‘better’ than one watched to 25%. And the better ones were, of course, being shown in news feed more often.
This sounds like a reasonable thing to do, until you realise that the most successful videos were almost always the shortest ones. Because it’s much easier to get your audience to watch most of a 15 second video than most of a 15 minute video. It’s a simple question of time. Facebook has a very transient audience who tend to flick through content quickly.
Thirty seconds is a long time on Facebook newsfeed. Fifteen minutes is a lifetime.
But now that’s all changed
Facebook now say in a blog post that ‘percent completion’ will be more important on longer videos. So now if your audience watches 75% of that 15 minute video, it will be deemed better than watching 75% of the 15 second one.
Here’s what they said:
“…we know that completing a longer video is a bigger commitment than completing a shorter one.
“As we continue to understand how our community consumes video, we’ve realized that we should therefore weight percent completion more heavily the longer a video is, to avoid penalizing longer videos.”
You may also have noticed, as I have, that Facebook is making the sound on/off button more prominent on videos.
It’s been assumed for a while now that nobody will ever listen to sound on video content – this is obviously their play to try to change that.
It would make sense – sound adds a whole different dimension to videos, and bringing it back would certainly make Facebook vids more interesting.
So what does that mean?
It means longer videos will start to perform well on Facebook.
And I think these changes are a good thing. The whole 15-seconds-no-sound paradigm was definitely starting to get tired.
Whilst it certainly presented an interesting creative challenge for a while, newsfeed video content felt like it was getting dumber.
Allowing content creators to make longer videos – which is essentially what these changes are doing – means our newsfeeds are likely to be filled with more interesting and in-depth stuff.
And those of us that actually make the videos have more time to play with. I can certainly think of a few colleagues who will be delighted.
Don’t go thinking that just because videos can be longer that they should be. Videos will still need to work hard to hold people’s attention – which will arguably be harder the longer it goes on for.
It’s no good making a great 10 minute long video if the first 5 seconds are slow or dull – people will still drop off before they get to the good stuff and the content will still perform badly.
Videos on Facebook have a 1.5 second audition time – and that certainly won’t be changing.