BuzzFeed Video Titles Deep-Dive: Facebook Vs. YouTube

BuzzFeed Video Titles Deep-Dive: Facebook Vs. YouTube

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If you want to really grab viewers’ attention, you’re going to need the right title for your video. A compelling title can entice a viewer to click on your video, and also invite them to click on others on your page or channel. We already know the importance of using the right keywords, and crafting them into a phrase that snappily sums up your content, but did you know that the length of your title can also impact search results and views and engagements?

We took a deep-dive into the way BuzzFeed crafts its video titles, and the impact that word and character length has on its uploads to both YouTube, and to Facebook. We studied over 9.7K videos from BuzzFeed, an inventory that has generated over 18 billion views. The strategy it employs regarding titles may help you to make your own the right length to keep them buzz worthy.

BuzzFeed Video Title Length: Facebook vs YouTube

BuzzFeed produces video content optimized for clicks and views, but one thing that jumps out immediately is the length of titles on Facebook vs. YouTube.  The titles on Facebook are noticeably longer, although this may be due to the fact that you can create long titles for your video content to begin with on Facebook.

Avg Words per TitleAvg Characters per Title

YouTube titles are locked down at 100 characters with best practice recommendations suggesting that titles end before 70 characters as more than that may be truncated in search, BuzzFeed’s data would support this claim. Videos over 70 characters performed more than 37% worse in views compared to BuzzFeed’s YouTube average.

FacebookAvg Views
YoutubeAvg Views

On Facebook it seems there is certainly a benefit to keeping the titles short and sweet.  This may be due to the fleeting nature of the Facebook feed and the necessity to get your point across as quickly as possible.

On YouTube, however, it seemed that the video would perform roughly the same so long as the title was under 70 characters.  If you are posting your video to both Facebook and YouTube, I’d consider coming up with a 70 character or less title for YouTube and then making an alternate title under 40 characters to be used on Facebook.  Just because a title works on one platform doesn’t necessarily mean it will work on another.

Titles That Include a Question Don’t Perform As Well

About 13% of the titles we looked at from BuzzFeed began with a question word.  On average, Facebook videos performed 22% worse when they began with a question word with YouTube videos doing 24% worse.

When you’re talking about somebody like BuzzFeed, that’s more than 500k views lost based on the first word of the video alone.  Don’t think that simply slapping a question word on the front of your title will build intrigue and mystery, it has to compliment the content that follows.

Video Titles: Shorter is Better

Whether you are trying to get views or make engaging content the trend remains the same for the length of titles: shorter is better.  What’s more, according to BuzzFeed’s videos, engagement per view on Facebook is at about 2.35% whereas YouTube is at 1.57%.  If you’re trying to spread the word about something, Facebook is looking pretty good right about now.

Like the data on length of title vs. views, YouTube videos seem to get average engagement regardless of title length, so long as you stay under the magic 70 character limit.  On Facebook, BuzzFeed actually got below average engagement with every title length except for those under 40 characters.  Once the video went below 40 characters, the engagement was around 44% higher than their average engagement.

PlatformAvg Engagements

Title length is just one component of writing a great title and getting the exposure you want for your video content. There is certainly a sweet spot for YouTube around 41-70 characters and a significant benefit on Facebook for staying under 40. Keep that in mind the next time you consider trying to break the world record for longest video title.


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