Facebook is still figuring out what a good video is supposed to look like — and in the process, it could give businesses and brands a new avenue to reach its 1.35 billion users organically once again.
The number of videos users in the U.S. post has nearly doubled in the past year (Facebook has previously said users view more than 1 billion videos every day), the company said today. Videos in general are one of the most engaging pieces of content on the Facebook News Feed, product management director Fidji Simo told BuzzFeed News. That engagement offers a big opportunity for brands and businesses, which previously just relied on text and photos but covet the seconds and minutes Facebook's users spend interacting with their content.
More than half of Facebook's daily active users watch at least one video a day, and the number of videos from people and brands in News Feed was 3.6 times higher than it was a year ago, the company said.
"Everything goes into the algorithm to determine what's the best content to show you," Simo said. "If you're someone watching videos for a while and watching a lot of them, we should show you more of that type of content. If a particular video is watched longer than others, that's a signal for us that this is high quality. These signals for watch time are really critical in how we rank videos."
Producing more engaging Facebook content has become more important for brands and businesses recently, which have been penalized for publishing what the company considers "low quality" posts. With more users sharing more often, brands are fighting both users content and paid advertisers for eyeballs. Facebook users are also getting more tools to remove things they don't like from their News Feed, offering another roadblock for brands and pages that are trying to reach potential customers without paying for ads.
Advertisers can benefit from producing better videos, because they cost less and get better placement in the News Feed if they are high quality. Ads have to compete with other News Feed posts for space and eyeballs. Simo said that, in general, videos that feel more "raw" (or unedited) do well in News Feed, and so do videos that don't require sound (which is turned off by default). Videos automatically play when a Facebook user views them, so those first seconds are critical in capturing the attention of a user, she said.
Video is also increasingly important to Facebook and offers those brands — and paid advertisers — a new opportunity to find a home in News Feed, if they figure out what works best before the rest of the world. Facebook introduced a whole suite of metrics that range all the way from how many seconds were watched to whether the Facebook user enabled sound on the video. Initially, brands and businesses were able to organically reach Facebook's wide user base without paying for advertising, and if video proves to be more engaging, they may once again have a shot at doing that.
"When we're working with content creators, they're the ones teaching us," Simo said. "So far what we've seen essentially, content that feels very at home with News Feed [from brands or creators] works really well."
The number of videos posted per person has nearly doubled, not the number of videos users have watched, as was misstated in a previous version of this story.
Matthew Lynley is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News in San Francisco. Lynley reports on Silicon Valley and the tech industry.
Contact Matthew Lynley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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