Facebook video – enjoy it while you can

We have all seen organic reach falling on Facebook, but I’ve had remarkable success with Facebook videos recently.

This video of Victorian tunnels in Bradford reached over 50,000 people, being shared 300+ times, within its first five days:

That video didn’t take long to put together. I filmed it on an iPhone and edited it on an iPad. It was online within a couple of hours of me donning a hard hat to enter the tunnels.

To put the 50,000+ reach of that video into some sort of context, Bradford Council’s Facebook page has fewer than 2,000 likes, and other recent posts have an average reach of just a few hundred people. The tunnels video has been by far the most successful Facebook post Bradford Council has ever published.

But even before that freakish success, I had observed a trend, with videos on our Facebook page outperforming other post types:

Another recent video that did well was one announcing the sudden closure of one of our customer service centres due to wind damage. It was a far from brilliant video, but that didn’t matter. It seems that using Facebook video for news items is working well.

As well as giving page owners control over how videos are set out on a page, it is clear that Facebook is being generous with its algorithm, and allowing videos a healthy organic reach. I should perhaps allow myself a bit of credit for the success of the tunnels video. I think I did a pretty good job making it, and I published it at a tried and tested time (a Sunday evening). But it certainly feels like Facebook is favouring videos.

I feel sure this is part of Facebook’s attempt to eat into YouTube’s dominance in the video world. If that is why they are doing it, it is working.

The tunnels video has had 7,000 views of 30 seconds or more on Facebook (19,000 if you include shorter plays too). Meanwhile, the same video on YouTube is gradually creeping up towards 300 views. Granted, Facebook’s autoplay feature for videos inflates the viewing figures. But even after taking that into account, the difference is quite staggering.

It is not just me who has noticed this shift. Viki of Kirklees Council has had a similar experience:

Up until now, I have been happy to just put campaign videos on YouTube, and share them on Facebook. But not now. I will be duplicating such videos in future, uploading them to both YouTube and Facebook.

One thing that bugs and surprises me, however, is the relatively low quality of Facebook videos. I have tried to stick to Facebook’s guidelines for uploading high-quality video. But I always end up disappointed by how poor my videos look on Facebook.

To illustrate this problem, here is the YouTube version of the tunnels video. It looks much better than the Facebook version at the top of this page.

If Facebook is serious about video, I feel sure they will fix this. They have to make it easier to upload HD videos. I’m actually amazed they haven’t already done so. In the meantime, if you have any advice on retaining quality in Facebook videos, please do let me know.

I suspect Facebook may one day adjust their algorithm again, and charge for the type of reach we are currently getting organically on videos. So, enjoy it while you can.

Have anything to add of your own about videos and Facebook? Pop a comment below or tweet me @albfreeman. I would love to know how others are getting on.

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albfreeman

I am a digital communications and marketing officer for Bradford Council and a musician.

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