Access Facebook. Scroll through your timeline. How many videos do you see?
Just three swipes of my index finger on my smart phone and I counted seven.
The videos in my timeline vary in theme, but they share several common protocols: they are direct uploads to Facebook, and they are very short. A year ago they would have all been links shared to YouTube or Vine and longer in length. All of the videos are short and most trace back to a brand page rather than a personal page. Beyond that: About half of the videos are sponsored content and four are from news websites.
The first video in my feed was this clip from the Fox News Page:
Post by Fox News.
As you can see, this clip has racked up an impressive number of views, likes, shares, and comments. The short length of the clip, the fact that it was embedded directly into Facebook rather than linking out to another site, and the content of the video all impact the reach and engagement of the post. And you don’t need to be a fan of Fox News on Facebook to see this video. It could land in your timeline if a friend likes the page, shares the video, or takes a number of other actions. The point? If you want your message to be seen on Facebook, grab a camera. Video is the way to go.
In response to the popularity of video on Facebook, MSNBC just launched two daily video programs on the platform: Sound Off and Face Palm. Sound Off will focus on one morning breaking news story, and Face Palm content will be posted later in the day and discuss unusual events in the news. The point of these video programs is to reach millennials with prevalent and pressing issues in society in a way they understand and will respond to. In a staff memo, MSNBC President Phil Griffin said, “If we’re serious about reaching younger audiences where they are, we have to create content in the formats that work for the platforms where they live. And we also must seek out other partners and content creators who are experts at doing this, and share our interest in compelling storytelling and innovation.“
National news organizations aren’t the only ones utilizing Facebook video—local affiliates are, too. For example, Baltimore’s WBAL TV 11 posts at least one Facebook video each day, often a teaser to what viewers can look forward to on the morning’s broadcast.
The current Facebook algorithm definitely favors video content. It will be interesting to see if this will be a lasting trend and, if not, how news organizations will readjust their social media strategies if it turns out to be short-lived.