More video content is being created, uploaded, and shared across Facebook and YouTube than ever before, which leads to an important question: which platform should you upload your video to?
To drive the most engagement, ideally you should upload your video to both. But, if you want to stick to just one, then it depends. There are a lot of different factors that play into video success on both channels. Let’s look at some of the differences between each that can help you decide what platform to use.
Looking at the numbers alone, Facebook has 2.6 million active users worldwide, and YouTube has 2 million. At first glance, it seems that Facebook would be the obvious choice because it has 600,000 more users, right? Not necessarily.
Facebook has seen steady growth in global active users since 2014, but the trendline seems to be slowing. YouTube, on the other hand, seems to be gaining traction among users and may even soon surpass Facebook.
While these numbers are good to know, you can’t decide which platform to upload your video to based only on the total active users. There are several other factors that should play a part in your decision.
When deciding which platform to upload your video to, you should always consider your target audience and which platform they’re using. Are you looking to get engagement from Gen Z? Are you looking for users in their 30s? Your answer to this question can help you decide whether YouTube or Facebook is best for you.
YouTube’s userbase is fairly split across the board, where as Facebook is more popular among older generations.
If you’re looking to reach a younger crowd, you’re more likely to find success on YouTube. Only 51% of users aged 13-17 use Facebook (compared to 79% of users aged 18-49), and 62% of Gen Z-ers say that they use YouTube every day (Statistica).
If you’re looking to target older generations, like Millennials or Gen X, you could likely find success on either platform.
Video content is not one-size-fits-all. The success of videos on YouTube and Facebook often depends on what the videos are about, their style, and length.
In general, YouTube works well for influencers and specific niches. These videos are typically focused on a the “characters” who are sharing their lives based around things like beauty, fitness, fashion, and travel (NewsWhip).
How-to videos are also popular on the platform, with 65% of people saying they use YouTube to help them solve a problem. The platform is able to capture the attention of viewers for longer periods of time, with the most popular YouTube videos and channels having an average video length of 12 minutes,.
The videos that Facebook users engage with are typically from a variety of pages, creators, and topics. This audience typically favors shorter, more snappy videos that share touching stories, fun products, recipes, quick how-to’s and DIYs. Facebook’s videos only average about 71 seconds.
Facebook feeds videos to users based on what the platform thinks they would engage with. It’s much more of a casual viewing experience and will auto play as users are scrolling. This leads to more passive viewing since there was no real intent to watch them in the first place.
On YouTube, users are in control of what they want to watch and will actively search for the type of content they’re interested in. It’s much more targeted and active on the user’s part and drives more quality engagement. These users who are watching your video made a conscious decision to do so, since it didn’t just pop up while scrolling through their newsfeed. While you may potentially get less views on YouTube, you’re much more likely to get viewers who are actually interested in your content. Quality over quantity.
YouTube counts an action as a view once a user hits “play” or watches for at least 30 seconds. Facebook, on the other hand, will count a view once the video is playing for 3 seconds. This can easily get skewed because of the platform’s autoplay feature. It’s likely that a video will get “views” where the user didn’t engage with the video at all.
Both platforms allow for creators to monetize, but your eligibility differs across both. Facebook requires your page to have 10,000 followers with 500 hours of watchtime over the last 2 months (or 250 hours a month). YouTube requires at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watchtime in the past 12 months (or about 330 hours every month).
YouTube requires less monthly subscribers, but more watchtime. Facebook requires more page followers, but less watchtime. Take a look at your current subscribers or followers and your watchtime to decide which channel you can better monetize on.
- The leader in total active users at 2.6 million
- Native videos get on average 477% more shares on the platform than YouTube links
- Feeds videos to users, less work in optimizing for search
- Possible skewed “views” data due to autoplay feature
- Less targeted, more passive engagement
- Low organic search visibility
- Behind in Gen Z users
- Harder to meet monetization requirements
- Users across all age groups
- Targeted, active engagement
- High organic search visibility
- Easier to meet monetization requirements
- Saturated with videos (A study by Pew Research found that the 10% most-viewed videos were responsible for 79% of all the views that went to new content posted by popular channels during the week)
- Videos aren’t fed to users like they are on Facebook, so they’ll have to search for your video to find it
Take this information into consideration when deciding which platform is best for you, but don’t be afraid to do some trial and error. Each creator is different, so you have to find what works best for you. Try posting the same video on both channels and see which drives more engagement. Or, you could test different lengths and formats on each to determine a winner. Be creative with your testing.
The truth is, there really is no “right” or definitive answer to this question, and both platforms have their advantages and disadvantages.
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