This Facebook Video Stat Just Got a Lot More Important

Written by Team Edgar

On January 31, 2017

What’s really the best length for a Facebook video?

A minute? Five minutes? Five hundred minutes?

(Okay, it probably isn’t 500 minutes.)

But this is one of those mysteries that Facebook doesn’t want to solve for you. In fact, they say that “video length is less important than telling a cohesive and concise story.”

Basically, the perfect length for a Facebook video is like the perfect length for a piece of string: as long as it needs to be.

That’s why now, Facebook is changing the way it ranks videos – and making it a lot easier to actually share videos that are as long as they should be!

What’s changing about how Facebook videos are ranked in the News Feed? 

Here’s what’s up:

Making your video the perfect length

In the past, conventional wisdom has said that Facebook videos should be short and snappy.

And there’s been good reason for that!

Way back in 2014, Facebook mentioned that when ranking video quality – which determines how many people actually see your video in the News Feed – one of the factors they look at is how much of your video people view.

(Here’s a look at how they determine who sees your non-video posts.)

It makes sense, then, that you’d want to share shorter videos! In theory, that would make it a lot easier to score higher – if somebody watches 30 seconds of a minute-long video, that’s a much higher percentage than if they watched 30 seconds of a five-minute video.

That was years ago, though – and since then, video has gotten a LOT more popular.

Breakfast Club So Popular.gif

Between 2014 and 2015, Facebook video uploads in the US increased by 94 percent. In 2015, video views went from less than 4 billion per day to 8 billion per day.

Facebook has had to make some changes to how it measures video quality since then – including fixing a few things that were broken – and this new change is a perfect example.

Now, long videos and short videos aren’t measured exactly the same way – and it should mean that longer videos have a much stronger chance at finding an audience.

Because longer videos are, well, longer, Facebook is making high percent completion numbers more valuable for them than they are for short videos.

(Note: Percent completion refers to the percentage of a video that was watched, not the percentage of viewers who completed the video.)

Basically, long and short videos are now being graded on a curve – if someone watches 80% of a longer video, that’s more valuable than if they watched 80% of a shorter one!

Simpsons Grading Curve.gif

And because you’re probably wondering – Facebook has not publicly specified how short is “shorter” or how long is “longer.” (As of posting, the maximum length for a video upload is 120 minutes, while the maximum length for a live broadcast – which will save to your Page after its completion – is four hours.)

The extent to which this affects you and your Page may  vary – Facebook has said that longer videos may see more distribution, and that to make room, shorter videos may see slightly less.

That’s mostly going to depend on what you share and how it performs, though, so here’s how you can keep track of the statistic that just got a lot more important!

Keeping an eye on your percent completion

Whether your Facebook videos are long or short, the longer you keep people watching, the better.

If you want to share videos that people will watch, start by looking at your existing performance.

Use your Page’s Insights or Publishing Tools tab to find a video you’ve shared, and you’ll be able to see performance statistics that include how much of that video people tend to watch. You’ll also be able to see how many of your viewers you retain (and lose) throughout:

Edgar Video Completion.gif

Patterns in your viewers’ habits from video to video might help you optimize what you share in the future.

For example, do you find that viewers are more likely to watch one type of video to completion over another? Do they prefer animated, or live action? Tutorials, or Q&As? Funny cats, or cute babies?

The better you can determine which of your videos find (and keep) an audience, and why they do so successfully, the easier it becomes to repeat your successes. (It’s hard to share the types of videos your viewers enjoy most if you don’t know what types of videos they are, you know?)

Does this change YOUR approach to Facebook video?

Now that longer Facebook videos don’t have quite the same disadvantage they used to, do you think you might experiment with creating them?

Or are you gonna keep on making ’em short and sweet?

(Do you think it makes sense for Facebook to factor in video length like this?)

Share what you think in the comments below!

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