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Facebook News Feed Study: 3:20 Ideal Vid length

Buzzsumo Facebook News Feed Study

Getting good organic results on Facebook, via the main News Feed anyway, gets more challenging each year. However, a new study just released provides plenty of actionable takeaways which will help marketers maximise their unpaid social exposure in 2019.

The team from BuzzSumo analysed 777 million Page posts from 2018 to determine the optimal post length, post type and posting times, among other factors, that can help boost your on-platform performance.

Video Still Dominant Facebook Format

According to Buzzsumo, video remains the best performing post type on the platform, generating some 59% more engagement than other post types.

On the surface, this may seem somewhat contradictory to many marketers’ findings from 2018 since many reported that video results were down substantially last year.

However, within the study, Buzzsumo doesn’t breakout the data between the different video formats within Facebook:

  1. Regular Video post
  2. Facebook Live
  3. Watch Party for Page
  4. Watch Party for Group
  5. Facebook Premieres
  6. Story Videos

Another study by Social Bakers in 2018 demonstrated that the bulk of the organic video performance was being driven by Live Video, not regular video posts.

So, whilst video still offers the best organic results, implementation is likely to be more nuanced than the data initially suggests.

The recent global launch of Facebook Watch further signifies video’s resurgence on the platform, however. It also demonstrates the potential for News Feed fragmentation, as organic content now serves in a range of alternative environment on Facebook:

  • News Feed
  • Stories
  • Watch
  • Local
  • Messenger
  • Events
  • Groups

Shortish Facebook videos still working best

The data within the study also suggests the optimal length for an organic Facebook video, to maximise engagement, is between 3 – 5 minutes.

Favouring the lower end of that scale, at 3:00 – 3:20.

That said, Facebook’s video retention rates are notoriously poor. If not overinflated.

So where this engagement is taking place, i.e. in the first 60 seconds or later, is unclear.

Similarly, Facebook Live drives much higher engagement (up to 6 times more) and tends to skew long, due to its more conversational nature. But again, this is not broken out.

To be fair, Facebook has been shifting the News Feed to favour longer form video since 2017. Therefore, this should not come as a surprise that average lengths have crept up.

The problem with Facebook video in the main News Feed is that Facebook is not a video destination in the same way as YouTube. Yet. Most users hop onto social while waiting for a bus, a meeting to start or on the toilet. Dipping in and out regularly.

Therefore, they are not bedding in for a 15 – 30 min video viewing session, unlike when on YouTube, where session viewing times are dramatically higher. YouTube probably has more in common with Netflix than Facebook.

Successful uptake of Facebook Watch will change this in time, increasing average video viewing sessions year on year ongoing. However, it is more likely that different video formats, and even narratives, will optimise at different lengths through 2019.

You can check out the complete Buzzsumo study for yourself here.

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