From the evolution of the internet, conventional wisdom has been that shorter is better when it comes to viral videos. Now that the line between the web and traditional distribution platforms has almost completely blurred, Facebook is placing its bets on longer content.
The company announced in a blog post that it will be changing how it accounts for “percent completion” of videos, in favor of longer work. Currently, short and long videos are weighed the same in terms of percent completed. The change that Facebook is making will weigh percentages of longer videos watched more heavily, because, “We know that completing a longer video is a bigger commitment than completing a shorter one.” This change is expected to give a bump to longer videos in News Feeds, while resulting in a slight dip for shorter ones.
In addition to duration watched, the analysis for surfacing videos will include whether viewers choose to turn on sound, and if they view the video in full-screen.
With this move, Facebook is positioning itself as a potential competitor to streaming services like Amazon and Netflix.
So how long should you make your videos? The Facebook blog advises, "The best length for a video is whatever length is required to tell a compelling story that engages people, which is likely to vary depending on the story you’re telling." Essentially, the algorithm can't make people watch a boring video, so concentrate on quality over duration. The post also recommends reviewing your video insights in Page Analytics to better understand how your videos perform.
This algorithm shift is a big pivot from just this past spring, when the platform made a push to prioritize Facebook Live videos, even paying celebrities and media outlets to create live streams. None of those year-long live video contracts will be renewed.
With this move, Facebook is positioning itself as a potential competitor to streaming services like Amazon and Netflix. No word yet on whether the company will be creating its own original content, or even purchasing work for exclusive distribution, but it is more likely than ever that audiences might find and view your next movie on a social network.