A few days ago, I tried to post a video on Facebook and boost it to promote an event, and ran into some interesting problems. From reading other posts/blogs, I learned that this is pretty much an ongoing thing resulting from Facebook and YouTube (a Google company..) having a hard time playing in the same sandbox.  Here’s a couple things to consider when attempting to promote video content on Facebook.

  • You’ll Get More Engagements Uploading Videos to FB

Embedding the videos directly into Facebook ensures that the engagement rate will be much higher.  Videos will auto-play when users are scrolling through their feed, and Autoplay generally constitutes more than 90% of our video views.  Here’s the result of a video we uploaded directly a few months back.  Notice the percentage of clicked-to-play:



Plus, with Facebook, it’s much easier to track engagement statistics, paid vs. organic views, view completions, etc.  But…

  • …..the quality will suffer.

The video that I was trying to upload was in .Mov format with a 1920 x 1080 frame and 10333 kbps bitrate.  It looked awesome when I pulled it out of Drop Box.

But when uploaded it to Facebook, it looked like an Atari game.  Even after adjusting the codec, frame size, and bitrate exactly to FB’s specifications, it wasn’t good enough. We spent a lot of money shooting and editing this video and there’s no way I was going to promote it to thousands of FB users looking like it did.  So I went the other route and uploaded it to our YouTube page and tried to share/boost on FB.  But..

  • Boosting YouTube Content is Tricky

Facebook Ad standards require that no more than 25% of the thumbnail provided contains text.  When I promoted the linked video at first, it was approved and ran for about three hours, then I got a message stating that ad had not been approved due to the text in the thumbnail (which cannot be edited), which was super frustrating.

  • Speaking of those thumbnails..

Thumbnails get weird when sharing videos on FB.  Even after you specify a thumbnail, Facebook will still have the original (og:image) thumbnail and not display it correctly, despite manually assigning it in YouTube or Vimeo.

If you are getting the wrong thumbnail even after you’ve changed it manually, you can go to:   https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug/, select “Fetch New Scrape Information” and it will replace the OG image with the right thumbnail.


So what did I end up doing?

I uploaded the video to Vimeo rather than YouTube, shared it on Facebook, and promoted the post with a budget and two week campaign.  The Vimeo thumbnail only contains the image I selected and the headline, without any additional text to prevent the post (read: ad) from being published.

To Recap:

Uploading videos to promote posts directly from Facebook seems to have a significant impact on the engagement rate, but you sacrifice the quality of the video in doing so.

There’s a lot of discussion about what is the best way to promote videos on Facebook. It seems to me that FB encourages users to embed directly, because from my experience the engagement rates have just been much higher. But the quality suffers greatly, with FB compressing videos to save space.

A friend of mine (the guy who shot the video for us) told me:

“The videos I’m proud of and want to keep the quality, I share from Vimeo.  The videos that I just want to rack up engagements, I share from Facebook directly.”

I’d say he’s right on.

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