Keep Facebook Videos Short and Sweet for Best Engagement

Keep Facebook Videos Short and Sweet for Best Engagement

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When posting videos to Facebook, try to ensure they are as short as you can make them without losing context. A new study from Socialbakers, indicates that videos that run for less than 21 seconds do better in terms of completion rates than those over. Of course, the shorter the video, the more likely it is to keep the viewer’s attention, but that’s not always the case, especially if it fails to captivate the user within the first few seconds. And with more videos than ever appearing in Facebook’s News Feed, marketers need to take note of what is actually going to work for them.

Video Performance on Facebook by Length

The Socialbakers study confirms that the average length of a video uploaded to Facebook is 44 seconds, but there is an enormous variance in that data, based on statistics gathered for June 2014. The site chose completion rates as the metric to test against, and noted that Facebook will count a video as completed if the viewer has watched at least 95% of it. You can see from the chart below how the shorter length leads to better completion metrics.

facebook video retention

Watch Time and Video Metrics

In June of 2014, Facebook updated its video ranking algorithm to factor in whether a user has watched a video, and for how long. Why was this such a game-changer for the site? Well, for a start, with auto-play now in full-effect, Facebook needed to present more accurate data to publishers to confirm that viewers actually were (or, indeed, were not) engaging with video content further than scrolling past it to get to the next post.

User retention rates fall quickly, the longer the video. Again, this isn’t always the alarming metric it appears to be. A substantial portion of viewers will click on a video if the thumbnail/title is engaging enough, or it’s from a trusted source like BuzzFeed or the BBC. The trick is to keep that viewer watching for as long as possible – ideally, up to 95% of the clip. Interestingly, after the initial few seconds, the second highest drop-off occurs in the last 5% of the video, coinciding with the closing credits/end slate etc.

facebook viewer video retention

How does This Completion Rate Compare to YouTube?

Socialbakers confirmed that it didn’t have access to the full data, but believes that retention rates on Facebook are outperforming those on YouTube. Why? Possibly because Facebook’s News Feed algorithm is doing a more effective job of presenting the best video content in user’s News Feeds. YouTube may be leading in terms of unique visitors, but publishers still need to focus on sharpening up their video marketing strategy with Facebook videos to ensure the very best ROI.


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