Facebook is not only trying to beat YouTube at their own game, they seem to be doing a pretty good job. According to Business Insider, Socialbakers, a company that tracks social media data, determined that Facebook users uploaded more videos to Facebook than they shared from YouTube. This is a major shift, especially since not that long ago pretty much all videos on Facebook originated on YouTube.
While YouTube is still the king of video, with YouTube being the second most trafficked site on the Internet (second only to Google), the fact that many users may be skipping YouTube and sharing directly to Facebook represents a major change that may end up having a significant impact on video advertising. This chart from Socialbakers shows how people are increasingly choosing to upload straight to Facebook.
However, it’s important to not read too much into the research from Socialbakers. In addition to the fact that this data comes from a sample of only 20,000 Facebook accounts, we also don’t know if people aren’t uploading both on Facebook and on YouTube. Just because people aren’t sharing from YouTube doesn’t mean the content isn’t ending up there as well.
Facebook trying to tap top YouTube producers
Facebook seems pretty serious about becoming a video sharing platform, and my guess is that they want a slice of the advertising dollars that video ads can bring. Per this Wall Street Journal report, Facebook appears to be attempting to woo major YouTube content producers. A spokesperson told the WSJ:
“Our partnerships team regularly has conversations with content creators about how to best utilize all of Facebook’s offerings, video included. Beyond that, we don’t have anything to share at this time.”
While they are being fairly cagey about their dealings with these video creators, it appears that Facebook is already working on incorporating ads into shared videos.
What Facebook has going for and against it
The biggest thing working in Facebook’s favor is that they have an enormous existing user base, and they also have set videos to autoplay as people scroll through their feed. 1 Additionally, videos that people see are shared and commented on by people they know.
However, there are three major hurdles that Facebook will need to overcome to really compete:
- Problems finding videos
- Incorporating ads
- Revenue sharing for content providers
YouTube has a much superior search engine for finding videos, even compared to the new Facebook search system. A major part of getting advertisers on board is to point to a large number of viewers and views for popular videos, and people are going to need to find them for this to happen.
There’s also the ad incorporation issue. In theory, Facebook could just slap an ad at the beginning of each video and call it a day, but the problem is that while people are okay with autoplay videos without ads, it may be a whole different ball of cats when ads are incorporated.
Finally, if Facebook really wants to get major content producers on board, they’re going to need to involve profit sharing. While businesses often use video, including non-promoted video, to sell items or improve brand recognition, a large number of content creators see most of their income from profit sharing of ad revenue from their videos. From the aforementioned WSJ article:
One content creator who has been experimenting with putting his videos on Facebook is Jack Vale, a comedian specializing in prank videos, who has built a following of nearly 1.2 million subscribers and has generated over 224 million views on YouTube. Over the past few months Mr. Vale, who is part of the Fullscreen network, has been experimenting with Facebook. The results have been “phenomenal,” he said although he isn’t making money on Facebook yet.
To get around the fact that he won’t make money on videos seen exclusively on Facebook, he posts snippets and previews to Facebook that link to the full YouTube video. Until Facebook starts providing monetary incentives for creators like Vale, they’re just going to be a gateway to their competitor.
 This is also something that may work against them because ads may not end up being really seen, and it could compromise the accuracy of viewer statistics since people don’t actually have to hit play for a video to be counted as having been watched.
Image Credit: Maurizio Pesce