Facebook Video View Counts Mean Nothing. But Snapchat and YouTube’s Matter.


Last week both Facebook, and its strongest new rival, Snapchat (who turned down a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook in 2013) released new daily view counts. Facebook now boasts 8 billion daily video views and Snapchat states they’re getting 6 billion video views a day.

However, Facebook counts a view as only 3 seconds “watched.” And the sound doesn’t have to be turned on. So all you musicians out there claiming that your videos get way more views on Facebook than YouTube, I encourage you to take a step back and actually check your Facebook video analytics and see how many people actually watch past the 30 second mark (where YouTube counts a single view) and how many actually click the video to turn the sound on (they give you this info).

I experimented with this back in August and noticed that of my 6,830 “views” from my video uploaded directly TO Facebook, only 787 people watched past 30 seconds. Contrast that with my YouTube views of 1,934 on the same video (all past 30 seconds). Also worth noting, I shared, promoted and “Boosted” the Facebook uploaded video and its numbers still couldn’t top my YouTube views. I paid no advertising for the YouTube video. The average time watched on the YouTube video was 1:42. On Facebook? :23. And only 444 people actually clicked the Facebook video (to turn the sound on). For a music video, that’s kind of important.

These numbers are fairly consistent with others who have run similar experiments.

+Facebook Lies Cheats and Steals To Win The Video War

So, although “8 billion daily views” makes for a great headline, it shouldn’t be taken at face value.

Views, just like followers, mean nothing. It’s now all about engagement.

That’s why Snapchat’s numbers are so interesting.

Snapchat’s videos, like YouTube, need to be manually played (in Snapchat’s case, by touching the purple square next to the user’s name, or loading their “story”). Every single view on Snapchat and YouTube is actually engaged with by the user, whereas it seems most Facebook views happen by accident – from people scrolling through their newsfeed.

So, don’t completely abandon YouTube for Facebook just yet because Facebook’s views seem like they are so much greater. Once you dig in a bit deeper, you’ll notice that YouTube’s engagement (and views past 30 seconds) is still much stronger than Facebook’s. Some artists are releasing just clips of music videos to Facebook (like 15 second previews sent from Instagram) with links to the original video on YouTube (to maximize view counts). YouTube videos can be monetized, Facebook’s currently cannot. However, YouTube monetization nets around $.00111 per play. Because the payout is so negligible, it’s not really worth choosing your video platform based on the payout. But YouTube also offers Cards which can be overlaid on the video and linked to a store, email signup or website. Facebook currently offers nothing.

Also worth noting, Facebook downgrades YouTube embedded videos and prioritizes Facebook uploaded videos in the Newsfeed. So, embedding your YouTube video TO Facebook won’t get you many views. It’s better to upload a Facebook preview video directly to Facebook and then post the link to the full YouTube video in the description. Or upload the full video to both Facebook and YouTube simultaneously and run your own experiments. That’s what BuzzFeed does. (8.1 million Subscribers on YouTube and 7.8 million Likes on Facebook).

Snapchat is a different beast altogether. Its direct competitor isn’t Facebook, but Periscope, Twitter’s live streaming app. Periscope streams stay active on the user’s profile for 24 hours (like Snapchat Stories). Both apps encourage real-time, real life moments. Nothing edited or posed – unlike Facebook and Instagram’s focus.

Facebook is betting big on video. They will be upgrading their video integration and will eventually enable search. We can only hope they will also incorporate their version of YouTube Cards, enabling Pages to link to external stores. Or, even sell directly to users on Facebook. How great would that be? Like this music video? Download the song right here (within Facebook). Or purchase the vinyl record, concert tickets or t-shirt right here. In Facebook. No need to link externally. I can’t imagine Facebook Commerce is that far off.


Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of the  music biz advice blog, Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake

12 Responses

  1. Remi Swierczek

    Ari, All those views no matter how you classify them ARE IRRELEVANT!
    They will not bring back valid recording industry equivalent.
    At the best they will bring us few lucky LIVE GRADE STARS.
    You might as well stop observation of your videos on media platforms and start to play local STATE LOTERY.

    TIME TO UNITE, get new fair use act, AND CONVERT RADIO , TV & STREAMING to $100B MUSIC STORE.
    Let the music play and artists be the artists – no need for stress and observation of your own HUNGER GAMES!

  2. John Mayo

    Hopefully if Facebook tries to do a video type of network, it would be possible to monetize, like youtube.

    • Anonymous

      FB will monetize but it will not resemble YouTube, as in the average use will never be able to earn money just by putting their music videos up, for example. Will be a curated video service for the forseeable future with selected partners participating in ad revenue.

      • Anonymous

        Ad revenue is just ad revenue that equates just 1/20 of the MUSIC BURNED for the purpose of ad revenue!

  3. Literati X

    I was born inside the digital music systems. I grew as an artist inside the digital music systems. I got trapped inside the digital music systems. When I tried to escape , the only eXit was a door on Wall Street. And I found myself standing in the midst of giants naked but never afraid. Stripped down to my bare ass–no drawers , pants or coat. I felt like the microcosm of an immortal slave inside a new land of abstract laws against my own humanity–eXistence . Then I made friends that wanted to make money with me and they shared their advice and eXperience with me . They told me that I was an eXotic trading instrument and the super stars are the music publishers on Wall Street and so I went to work with no clothes and nothing to eat. . .

  4. How Facebook Is Stealing Billions Of Views

    Guys, you absolutely have to see this YouTube video — HOW FACEBOOK IS STEALING BILLIONS OF VIEWS:


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