Though Christopher already covered the latest comScore report, in particular focusing on the implications for mobile operating systems and mobile video, I wanted to touch on another piece of the report: Facebook. Specifically, it appears that Facebook's time as a dominant source for video may be dwindling… or is it? Let's find out.
PaidContent has broken out the stats from comScore's report that center around Facebook and video, and the results aren't pretty. In the final five months of 2010, unique visitors to Facebook video have been on a steady decline:
The decline carries over into other video-related statistics as well, like the number of video sessions or the total viewing time (in minutes) per viewer.
Now, before we go any further we need to state the obvious: these numbers don't include YouTube embeds… only video that is uploaded by users and hosted by Facebook. With that out of the way, let's move on to my observations.
Facebook Is Not A Video Destination
Facebook isn't the destination, it's the car you use to get there. People who want their videos to get a lot of views are never going to upload it to Facebook as a distribution platform. Why? Because it would be stupid–the only people who see the videos you post on your Facebook page are your Facebook friends. Sure, they might spread it to some other individuals you don't know, but that will only go so far. Hosting your video on Facebook tragically limits your potential audience.
That's why brands put their videos on YouTube–that's the destination, mostly because it's so widely used and flexible. You can then embed that YouTube video on your blog, link to it from Twitter, or place it on your Facebook wall–use Facebook as the destination to drive viewers to your content.
I Don't Know That Facebook Cares About Hosting Video
In the YouTube/Facebook relationship, you could argue that Facebook has all the power. Let's say I upload a video to YouTube, okay? Now… it's possible that some folks will accidentally stumble onto the video just browsing YouTube, but the odds of that are pretty low. Why? Because viral video doesn't happen without social behavior… period… end of story. A great video–with no social behavior around it–can go up on YouTube, flounder, and die. But a mediocre video with tons of social behavior around it can go nuclear.
That's why YouTube (and nearly every other content site) includes so many social options–including Facebook–below each video. They know that social media is the key to viral spread. I mean… just look at all the avenues YouTube is offering users for video sharing:
Buzz, Twitter, Facebook, tumblr, StumbleUpon… they're practically desperate for you to share!
Facebook, on the other hand, is about so much more than video. They're trying to connect people regardless of what the content type is. It makes sense for them to allow users to upload video, obviously, but it's hardly their core business.
Facebook Is About Relationships, YouTube Is About Entertainment
Facebook is great for personal video… private video… video intended just for your immediate social circle. It will never be great as a video hosting option for businesses or videos that hope to go viral… it's just not what they're about. Facebook connects friends and acquaintances over comments and content, and they do it better than anyone.
YouTube, on the other hand, is entirely devoted to video hosting. As social behavior becomes more and more crucial to video success, unique visitors to Facebook video should fall, and should continue to fall. The videos best-positioned for success are the ones with the most flexibility. Facebook video, as a hosting option, could not be any less flexible if it tried.