Everyone knows that video is where it's at on social in 2016.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg summed up the rise of video in his first ever Facebook Live Q & A session recently:
"If you go back to the internet ten years ago, most of what we shared online was text - the internet was very slow, it was very hard to get visual media, so most of what we were doing was text. [...] And now, as our internet and networks are getting better, we can start to support more video - we can upload videos, we can do this live like we're doing here, and that is making this experience richer and richer and you're getting a better sense of what people are experiencing and feeling, which is really powerful"
This is, of course, the logical evolution of video content's popularity - we all love to be able to share our experiences, to show others the world as we see it, to capture the moment in order to either re-visit it ourselves or connect with friends and family. And in order to do this, we utilize the medium best able to convey that sense of space and time. As Zuckerberg says, it was text, then photos, now video (the next evolution will of course be VR).
Given this, the increased consumption of video content makes perfect sense, and working with that in your marketing and outreach efforts is obviously also a sound strategy. As technology advances so too does consumer expectation - why read the book when you can see the movie, right?
And now, new research has underlined that not only is video popular amongst consumers, it's also generating way more reach on the world's biggest social network, a crucial consideration in how to maximize your on-platform performance.
Here are the numbers.
Facebook Loves Video
In order to measure which content is performing best on the platform, BuzzSumo analysed 25 million Facebook posts published by the top 10,000 publishers over the last year.
Their key finding? Video content is driving significantly higher shares over time.
As noted by BuzzSumo:
"Average shares [of video content] have more than doubled since last August. This may be due to Facebook's focus on video, the auto-playing of videos and similar factors but whatever the reason the data is quite clear."
This is in comparison to link posts:
Which are both on a downward trajectory in terms of total shares.
Now, of course, there's more to it than that - BuzzSumo is measuring total shares not URL clicks, so it is possible that despite those post types receiving less reach they could still be getting higher click-throughs, which is a more important metric for most brands (and something that can't be measured without access to each individual Page's Insights data).
But when you look at the corresponding video output of those top 10,000 brands in response to the improved share performance of video content, you can see a pretty direct relationship.
"If we look at the number of videos published on Facebook by the top 10,000 publishers over the last year, we can see that they have more than doubled their Facebook video output."
Reach remains a crucial consideration - while it's more important to be tracking that data in relation to its impact on your bottom line, various studies, including a recent one from Facebook themselves, have shown that reach plays a key role in subsequent content performance, even in our advancing age of customer segmentation and data-targeting.
In a separate (and admittedly much smaller scale) report, journalism group Poynter has reported that their Facebook Live videos are generating way more reach than their regular Facebook posts.
The most interesting element of Poynter's analysis is the relation between engagement and reach - as you can see here, their Facebook Live videos are generating way more reach despite getting significantly less engagement (clicks, Likes, comments and shares).
As noted by Poynter:
"...our top Live video reached more than 6,000 users for every engagement while our top article post only reached 36. That's an astonishing disparity."
Facebook, of course, is very keen to push their live-streaming option, so it makes sense that they'd be upping the reach of such content, but that amplification margin is pretty amazing.
For their part, Facebook has told Poynter that they're not prioritizing Live videos more than any other video "when they are no longer live" - when they are live, however, Facebook is giving them a reach boost. If that's correct, and that boost is reflected in the above numbers, that is a massive lift Facebook's giving to live content as it's being broadcast.
As noted, this latest data really only supports what most people already either knew or suspected - Facebook wants more Pages posting video content and is actively working to incentivize them to do so. Why? Because users are consuming more video on the platform - video consumption on Facebook has more than doubled in the last year - and catering to that increased demand keeps people on Facebook for longer.
This has actually been the case for the last 18 months - socialbakers produced a report last February which showed that video posts on Facebook were generating the most organic reach of any post type.
As such, it's no surprise to see Facebook is still putting significant emphasis on video - but what is worth noting is the disparity between the reach of video and non-video posts, particularly content posted via Facebook Live.
And given Facebook's latest algorithm update which will emphasize personal updates over Page content, there's no doubt going to be a heap of Page managers looking for new ways to stimulate reach and growth in the very near future.
The good news is that anyone can "go live" anytime - the barriers to entry are low and the reach potential is clearly very strong. And with Facebook working to put more emphasis on Live content, including through the formation of partnerships with celebrity broadcasters, you can also bet that Live will get continued focus from The Social Network.
And given this, getting on board now could be a good strategy.