We’ve already warned you that Facebook is coming for YouTube in a big way with its own internal video service, but a new study proves that Mark Zuckerberg and friends are not fooling around. Research firm Socialbakers studied more than 20,000 Facebook pages and 180,000 individual posts over the last year and they’ve concluded that Facebook video is close to eclipsing YouTube videos as the most shared on users’ timelines. That’s bad news for the ‘tubes which, like most websites, depend on Facebook for a healthy chunk of their referrals and views.
So why is Facebook video suddenly on the rise? The most obvious explanation for the increase is that Facebook is running the board. Facebook’s own video player is easier to post and share because it’s a part of the platform; it’s enabled for auto-play, and doesn’t need to be embedded from an outside source. More importantly, Facebook controls the magical algorithm that determines what makes it to the top of your timeline. That algorithm is the secret sauce that makes Facebook work by picking and choosing what kind of content gets a boost. Marketing and media companies have spent millions figuring out how to game that system, but a simple tweak from the inside would move Facebook’s native video to the front of the line.
Facebook has been getting more serious about online video in recent months. Instead of distributing content for others, Facebook wants to start making its own. The social networking giant has even set up an LA-based entertainment team staffed with YouTube pros. That team has allegedly been lobbying YouTube’s creators and networks behind the scenes, reportedly offering better terms and more lucrative deals if YouTube’s stars bring their content to Facebook first. While the study shows that Facebook has yet to top YouTube in its own backyard, it is certainly on track to do so. That sort of performance could be a major advantage in their campaign to win over YouTube’s stars.
The moral of the story? I sure hope YouTube is watching its back, because Facebook is not playing around.