As a musician, you’ll probably be in a music video at least a few times in your life. It could be a live video of a performance, cover video, album preview, or tour vlog. It may not even be your video per se, but something that you played in. Or maybe it’s yet another Adele cover video. (Really, we’re not done with those yet?)
Regardless of what the video is, you’ll distribute it online with the hopes of getting views, gaining fans, and making a name for yourself. For years the go-to standard for videos online has been YouTube, but in the past few years things have started to shift significantly.
It’s no secret that Facebook video has been growing. It’s quickly becoming a video platform on par with YouTube. You’ve seen more and more Facebook videos in your newsfeed, possibly without even knowing it. So what’s the difference between Facebook video and YouTube? Is one better than the other?
Let’s dive into the specifics of each platform, take a close look at a couple specific examples of videos on Facebook and YouTube, and answer this question. Fight! Fight! Fight!
Facebook has 1.65 Billion monthly active users. People in the United States spend almost an hour scrolling through Facebook every single day. Because Facebook prefers their own video platform to any other, videos uploaded directly through Facebook start playing automatically as you scroll through your feed. If the video they’re scrolling past is a YouTube video, it displays only a link. Because of this, Facebook video has a greater potential to hook people as they scroll by.
Here’s what a YouTube link looks like in your feed:
In order to watch the video, you have to click the link. On a desktop computer, the video will play in your Facebook feed, but on the mobile app and browser the link pulls up an external window and loads YouTube’s website.
Now here’s what a Facebook Video looks like:
Without clicking anything, the video starts playing as you scroll past it. This pulls the viewer into your Adele cover video before they even know they’re watching it. (It also can destroy your phone data plan)
Facebook’s Fancy Trick
By default, Facebook videos start playing, but with no audio. If you select the unmute button, you’ll hear the audio (surprise). But what’s even cooler is you can keep scrolling and the video rests in the top left corner. It’s a modern day picture in picture.
This nifty trick works on mobile as well:
Because Facebook prefers their own video platform, they do everything they can to ensure that people will watch their videos. In addition to the fancy picture in picture feature, Facebook video saves users from having to actually click and load the video.
I know, I know: How lazy are we? We can’t be bothered to click on a video? That may not seem like much, but it has a bigger impact than you would think.
Why does any of this matter? It’s a just one click, right? Let’s take a look at a few specific examples of how one click can make a dramatic difference.
My friends Sean and Kesha form a band called Browder Sister. They recently shot a music video for their song, “Love In a New Way”. They initially posted a link to their YouTube video. It got 59 likes and 32 shares.
When you click through to the YouTube page, you can see the views: 472.
After seeing their YouTube video posted on Facebook, I texted Sean to tell him to upload it directly to Facebook. He uploaded it to Facebook Video the next day. Notice the difference in numbers:
Not only does the Facebook video have 121 likes and 67 shares, but it has over 5600 views!
Next, I’ll show you an example of one of my own videos: my NAMM 2016 review, and we’ll dive even deeper. No, it’s technically not a “music” video, but the concept still applies.
Here’s the number of views on YouTube:
382 views… it seems like this video isn’t doing so well. Now let’s look at the Facebook video numbers:
Almost 25,000 views! That’s a staggering amount more.
On the surface, Facebook Video seems like the clear winner, but there’s a little more going on here.
YouTube counts a “view” anytime someone watches your video for 30 seconds or more. On Facebook, they count a “view” as 3 seconds or more. Yes, you read that correctly. To earn a YouTube view a user has to watch 10 times more of your video than on Facebook. Facebook also lets you view how many people watched past the 10 second mark (which, unsurprisingly sees a huge drop). While this may seem like Facebook video views are cheaper and not worth as much, I disagree.
Even if someone only sees your video for a few seconds before scrolling on, it still gets your name in their head. Next time they see another video or post from you, they’ll be more likely to watch it since they’ve been exposed to your music before, even if it was only for a few seconds.
Sure, it’s nice to say your video had 25,000 views, but views isn’t the whole story. Just because someone watched your video past the 3 second, 10 second, or 30 second mark doesn’t mean they actually finished watching it. Both YouTube and Facebook have viewer retention data to help shed some light on this. Let’s take a look under the hood of the NAMM video on both platforms:
Facebook’s Audience Retention
YouTube’s Audience Retention
For the NAMM video on Facebook, only 16% of viewers actually finished watching it. Compare that to YouTube’s 51%. That’s a huge difference! But using some simple math, we can figure out what that actually means:
Facebook Video: 16% of 25,000 views means that 4000views were fullviews through the end of the video.
YouTube: 51% of 382 views means that 195 views were full views through the end.
If you have a larger pre-existing YouTube presence (unlike me), you would have more views, and therefore many more people finishing the full video. These days though, with so many great YouTube channels, it’s difficult to really stand out if you’re starting from scratch (especially if you’re sticking only to the Adele cover videos).
Facebook and YouTube operate on different ideas of how video should work. YouTube’s video concept is passive: if your video is really good, it’ll gain more views, and they’ll consequently help you earn money from those views. Facebook operates on the exact oppositepremise: They are there to take your money, help get your video in front of more people, and get more views.
Here’s what that actually looks like:
For the Startup Musician NAMM video, once I posted it and it started to pick up some steam, I wanted to see how far I could take it. I payed Facebook $15 to boost it. Using Facebook targeting, I put the video specifically in front of people who were currently at the NAMM show.
This increased the views on its own, but when one of those people clicks “like” or shares it, it pops up in even more news feeds. The video started snowballing on its own, I boosted it to help it along, and it continued to snowball even more. On YouTube, there’s no such boost available.
Instead of paying to get more views, YouTube gives you the option to monetize your videos with ads. (Facebook currently doesn’t have any option for monetization) For my NAMM video check out the sweet sweet dollas I’ve made:
Obviously for me, monetizing videos on YouTube isn’t going to do much. I don’t have enough passive views. For some people though, especially musicians with a large YouTube following, this can translate to some decent money. But if you don’t have much of a YouTube following already, it’s an uphill battle. YouTube is a crowded place, and as Facebook Video grows in popularity, it’ll be harder and harder to make money from YouTube views. Don’t expect to put up some videos and then immediately start rolling in the YouTube bucks.
The big advantage of Facebook video is the ability to have your video shared around. It meets people where they already are (Facebook) and it automatically starts playing. By spending a little bit of cash, you can put it in front of the people you want. With Facebook Video, your video gets put in front of a large number of people (some of whom may actually finish watching it).
Facebook Video Personified: “Lookit!”
While YouTube may not meet people where they’re at, it doesn’t have to. YouTube has become like a museum for online videos. People go there to see something specific, and they’re there with the expressed intention of watching a video. No one goes to Facebook to search for “Hoobastank The Reason Official Video.” And honestly, no one should go to YouTube to search for that either.
A shot of Hoobastank Hall at the YouTube Museum
Side by Side
Should I Post My Video on Facebook or YouTube?
Knowing that both platforms have their own individual strengths, you should absolutely post your videos on both Facebook Video and YouTube. You probably aren’t making a ton of money from YouTube views, and could use the attention that Facebook will get you. Post to Facebook for the instant share-ability. Post to YouTube to archive it in the public library. Regardless of where you post, please stop with Adele cover videos.