Watch Time has been an important metric – perhaps the most important – on YouTube for some time, and now Facebook has updated its own video ranking algorithm to factor in whether a user has watched a video, and for how long. Facebook confirmed in a blog post that this extra feedback on video content, alongside other well-known metrics such as shares, likes, and comments, will determine how video content is presented to a user in their own News Feed. Users who love watching videos can expect to see more of this type of content, and users who don't engage as much will see less.
The site confirmed that beta testing of the Watch Time metric resulted in more users watching more videos that they felt were relevant to them. Now implemented, the algo change will only affect those videos that are directly uploaded to the site, and doesn't change how videos shared from other sites (YouTube, Buzzfeed, etc.) are ranked.
Video is Booming on Facebook
Twice as many users now watch videos on Facebook compared to just six months ago. That's a direct quote from the site, although it doesn't confirm whether that figure relates to direct uploads or linked video content. Whatever the origin of the content, Facebook understand the value that video can have for a brand, and have implemented a new video metrics section in Page Insights to give marketers and creators more informed data on how their content is performing.
As for the new Watch Time metric, ReelSEO'ssuggested that the new ranking factor is almost certainly a response to YouTube's method of rewarding engaging videos that keep viewers watching.
Facebook is following YouTube's lead and including "watch time" to improve its video ranking. This means that digital marketers need to create content that is unique, compelling, and entertaining or informative for both YouTube, as well as for Facebook. Both sites are following the lead of Google, which started reducing the rankings of low-quality content starting with the first Panda update in February 2011. Digital marketers need to focus on developing high-quality content, including videos. That's been the trend for the past three years, and Facebook has just climbed on the bandwagon.