If your brand is planning to invest in social video this year, you may have heard some buzz about Facebook’s updated News Feed algorithm. Essentially, Facebook users may see longer videos in their feeds based on their viewing habits. Mind you, these new changes won’t affect paid video advertisements—but for those who invest in original, organic content on the platform, longer doesn’t necessarily equal better.
Finding The Completion Sweet Spot
You would think that the shorter a video is, the more users would consume the entire message. Surprisingly, a study by Kinetic Social found that video ads less than 15 seconds were only completed by 26 percent of users. Meanwhile, video ads more than two minutes long were completed by 31 percent of users. At a completion rate of 44 percent, video ads between 30-to-60 seconds in length appeared to be the sweet spot.
While Facebook’s new algorithm doesn’t affect video ad distribution, it’s still interesting to note the behavior of viewers and attention spans thereof. It’s worth noting that as of September, around 93 percent of Facebook users accessed the site through a mobile device. How long a user is willing to spend watching a video on his/her phone will vary, but even Facebook admits that video length should depend on the story brands want to tell.
“As always, Pages should focus on creating videos that are relevant and engaging to their audiences,” the social network advised in a blog post. “Longer videos that people don’t want to watch will not perform better in News Feed. The best length for a video is whatever length is required to tell a compelling story that engages people, which is likely to vary depending on the story you’re telling.”
The idea behind Facebook’s new update is to give users more of what they’ve enjoyed in the past. “[L]onger videos that people spend time watching may see a slight increase in distribution on Facebook,” the company noted, “so people who find longer videos engaging may be able to discover more of them in News Feed.”
Making The Way For Mid-Roll
Facebook is testing mid-roll ads for its live videos, which would be great news for brands who’d like to earn more on the platform. If the tests are successful, mid-roll ads on Facebook will encourage creators to upload videos of at least a 90-second duration, and the ads only appear once a viewer has watched a clip for at least 20 seconds. In order for these ads to appear, however, the News Feed algorithm has to find enough videos that are long enough—and completed enough—to even show up.
Boasting roughly 100 million hours of videos viewed per day, Facebook continues its quest to compete with Twitch and YouTube for video-viewing supremacy. Whereas users typically pop onto the aforementioned video sites with a topic in mind, Facebook faces the challenge of engaging consumers with seemingly random videos that appear organically and automatically begin playing without sound.
In a statement accompanying Facebook’s third quarter earnings, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said they are “making progress putting video first,” which includes testing a new app feature that will offer direct access to the camera with one swipe—similar to Snapchat or Instagram.