Facebook Algorithm to Factor in Video Completion Rates

February 03, 2017

Christopher Spong

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In an official blog post published in January 2017, Facebook announced an update to its News Feed algorithm which will affect the organic distribution of native videos uploaded by brand pages and users. In addition to the engagement signals used to determine unpaid video distribution – including video-view duration, sound enablement, and full-screen viewing – Facebook will be analyzing percent completion as a ranking factor. Percent completion, or the percentage of a video that is viewed by a user, will help Facebook better rank videos and avoid penalizing longer video content. Facebook’s algorithm will weight percent completion more heavily on longer videos as there is more commitment required of the user.

As video content plays an increasingly important role in social content strategies, Facebook’s update is encouraging for social marketers looking to engage followers with captivating, long-form videos. Prioritization of three types of video within the platform’s algorithm – Live, short-form, and long-form – indicates Facebook’s intent on championing video as a primary form of social communication and expression for users, publishers, brands, and influencers.

Although long-form videos will benefit most from the algorithm update, it remains unclear as to the impact the change will have on video marketing strategies. Facebook’s advertising guide states that users can publish videos up to 120 minutes in length; however, the impact of this content may not match the effort and resources needed to create it. Note that the algorithm update will not affect the distribution of paid video content.

what this means for marketers

As always, it is important for marketers to test, learn, and refine their video strategy to get the most out of the content they create. Pre-planning to develop a strategy and determine how success will be measured is also key to ensuring that the content created ladders up to business objectives. Focusing on quality, rather than video length, will also help ensure success. By creating engaging videos that capture users early and keep them engaged, marketers will be able to benefit from Facebook’s most recent algorithm update.

It is important to be mindful of key performance indicators (KPIs) and their validity. Facebook’s acknowledgement of its flawed video view metrics in 2016 was worrisome for content creators chasing video views and focusing on average view duration to determine performance. Consider KPIs outside of Facebook that tie back to overall marketing goals to help demonstrate video marketing success beyond on-platform engagement.

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