Facebook has shared some new insights into how its video content algorithms work, which ultimately determine the reach of your video uploads on the platform.
Mehrotra shares are range of tips, and while most of them are fairly general (e.g. 'create engaging content'), there are some relevant notes that could help video marketers optimize their Facebook approach.
First off, in explaining what Facebook's algorithm is designed to optimize for, Mehrotra explains that engagement is key:
“At the end of the day, what we really care about is we want to make sure our users are having a fun, valuable time when they’re on Facebook and watching videos, so really what the algorithm is trying to do is match what a user is interested in, what they’ll enjoy, what content they will actually watch with what we know about the content.”
As always, it comes down to your audience and what they want to see, which will differ across each brand and Page. Understanding your audience - via Facebook's Audience Insights tools, and other means - will ensure that you're creating videos that resonate with your fans, and that engagement will then further determine your expanded video post reach.
On the specifics of Facebook's distribution algorithm, Mehrotra says that keeping your viewers watching all the way through is key:
“There are many factors, so it’s hard to get into all of them, but I think at a high level, what I would like to say is we look at the likelihood that a user will watch the content, so the primary factor that really matters is what’s the probability that a user's going to engage with this content and watch it for a longer period of time. And then we also factor in, secondly, what is the likelihood that a user is actually going to engage with this content, meaning will they Like it, will they share it, will they comment on it and tell their friends.”
That extended shareability is what then maximizes reach, so creating engaging, shareable video posts is key.
Which, as noted, is probably not specific enough to drive real action - if you want to see better performance, create better stuff. But still, understanding the key principles could help in your approach.
Mehrotra also discusses viral videos specifically, and what makes a video 'go viral' on Facebook:
“What unlocks virality goes back to the core of we want users to enjoy the content that they’re watching, and so, if there is a video that users are consistently viewing that content, engaging with it all the way through, they’re re-sharing it and spreading it with their friends, we take all of those signals around the video watching the video engagement and that triggers, essentially, virality.”
So the same keys as general video sharing - retaining your viewers all the way through and prompting sharing.
In terms of what not to do, Mehrotra notes that creators need to ensure that they're upholding the platform's integrity guidelines and community standards. If your content doesn't adhere to the rules, it will see reduced distribution.
Finally, Mehrotra provides five key tips for maximizing Facebook video performance:
- Create Videos that drive intentional and loyal viewing – Again, retaining audience is key, but that's just within each video upload, but also for your Page content in generally, bringing viewers back to your next upload and your next after that. "Content that brings users back to the platform is the content that we want to continue to grow on our platform".
- Create videos that build meaningful interactions and drive authentic sharing – More than just being entertaining, you should also be considering what motivates people to share videos, and why they might want to tell their friends about your content.
- Create videos that are your original content – Mehrotra notes that Facebook is very keen to promote Facebook-original work. "The more original content you’re creating that is bringing unique value to Facebook and our users is content that we want to reward." Worth noting that Facebook-owned Instagram recently implemented new reach restrictions on Reels clips that are re-uploaded from TikTok.
- Upload videos that will consistently bring your audience back to your Page – Maintaining that connection is key, so episodic, continuing stories could be good for building your Facebook video reach
- Create longer, high-quality videos that keep users watching and engaged – This is a more practical note - as per Mehrotra: “If it’s high-quality content that’s longer than three minutes, and people are watching and engaging for 60 seconds plus”, that’s what Facebook is looking for in video uploads.
As noted, a lot of the tips here are a bit too general to provide real direction, but they are worth noting as you go about planning your Facebook video strategy. And there are some more specific notes and insights here.
You can view the watch the full interview with Mahncy Mehrotra above.