We know that YouTube is the 300lb gorilla of online video. We know that videos posted on YouTube have the potential to be seen, and shared, by millions of people. We know that YouTube is indexed by Google extremely well. Then there’s Facebook. Facebook is the world’s most popular social network. Facebook has millions of users who actively read and share all kinds of content—including videos—every single day. So, if you want to put your video on Facebook—say your business’ page—you can either upload it to YouTube and embed/link to it or you can upload the video directly to Facebook. The question is: which is better. SocialBakers and ReelSEO both have some commentary, but leave what to do for us to decide. I’m going to go out on a limb take a stance.

Better Engagement and Reach With Facebook Native Videos

Let’s look at the data first. SocialBakers published two related studies on Facebook native versus YouTube links to videos. One study looked at interactions and the other focused more on reach. These are closely intertwined numbers, so I think it’s important to see them both together.

First the interactions chart (original post):


According to SocialBakers, native Facebook videos have a 40% higher engagement rate over links to YouTube videos. For individual metrics, you can see that the only item were Facebook has a clear lead is comments. Comments are important, but I don’t know how YouTube link engagement is measured (I’m going to hazard a guess that it’s from Facebook data publishers can see) maybe comments are more heavily weighted that other kinds of engagement. Now let’s look at the reach and lift chart (original post):


Facebook native videos get a reach of 12.5% versus 9.1% for YouTube links. This is a key stat, maybe the most important stat for us to consider when making an informed decision. You can get more reach with Facebook-native videos than YouTube linked videos. Chris over at ReelSEO hit the nail on the head with his summary:

I think there’s no doubt that what SocialBakers found here had a lot to do with the ease-of-use for Facebook users to watch the video completely on-site as opposed to being re-directed to YouTube. Obviously, it’s easier for those who share video to simply upload it to YouTube, which is what a brand/marketer is going to do anyway, and then provide the link which is very easy itself. However, getting people to jump around, even though it’s not much, makes a pretty sizable difference.


“Frictionless sharing” might be a buzz word, but it has real-world implications for how content spreads across the Internet. The faster and easier people can share and item, the more likely they are to actually share it. For video, what’s important is for people being able to watch the video in the fewest number of clicks so they can feel comfortable sharing it (and in the shortest amount of time—remember viewers start abandoning videos within two seconds if the video doesn’t immediately load). So Facebook native videos perform better over YouTube video links, and these are probably due to videos loading quickly and natively within Facebook. Interesting, but…that’s not the whole story on which platform to choose for your videos. SocialBaker outlined a few pros and cons in their engagement post:

The Benefits of YouTube Links

  • YouTube is the most popular video-sharing website that can aggregate, not only your videos, but also data concerning its views and shares.
  • You can share the YouTube link anywhere that supports your online exposure, unlike Facebook videos which cannot be shared outside of the social network.

The Benefits of Facebook Videos

  • Your Facebook fans can be tagged in the video.
  • Your Facebook videos suggest that users Like your Page via a button directly in the video.

Which option do you prefer and why? Are Facebook videos suitable for the needs of businesses or are they intended for casual, personal rather than for content creators?

From SocialBakers

What’s the Right Choice for You?

SocialBakers left the decision up to commenters; which didn’t work out so well, with no consensus in the 16 comments so far. I don’t like leaving data like this just hanging out there, so I’m going to put a stake in the ground and give you an answer that I think will satisfy everyone: Yes. I think that given these data, if you want more engagement and reach with your videos within an active Facebook community, upload the videos to Facebook so they display natively. For the occasional video, or if you have a large and more active community on YouTube than on Facebook, just embed the link to the video from YouTube. However, if you upload your video to Facebook, don’t forget to upload it to your YouTube channel as well. This might be a blinding flash of the obvious, but since Facebook remains (essentially) a walled garden from Google, you need to make sure your videos are on YouTube as well to ensure you have the widest possible audience—and greatest breadth of sharing options.

That’s where it stands. This isn’t an either or decision, it’s a “yes to both” decision. This decision is also one that you need to experiment with yourself and your audience. Maybe you have a large Facebook community, but a community of bloggers who will want to embed your video on their blogs as well—and the best way to do that is via YouTube. There isn’t going to be a one size fits all solution. The only sure thing is to make sure you have all your bases covered.

What has your experience been? Have you experimented with native Facebook video versus YouTube links? Chime in below…

Photo from Flickr by Jon Rawlinson.