Published August 23rd 2017

Facebook Video Engagement: What We Learned From Analyzing 100 Million Videos

What a difference a year makes. Last summer we wrote a post on why video is key to Facebook marketing. This summer our research data shows just how overwhelmingly dominant video, including Facebook Live video, has become. We analyzed 100 million Facebook videos published in the last year and using this data we can reveal:

Video Is The Most Engaging Facebook Format

Videos are the Facebook format most likely to reach and engage audiences according to Locowise. The average video post in April 2017 reached 12.05% of the total page audience, just ahead of photos at 11.63%, links at 7.81%, and status updates at only 4.56%. Videos also had the highest levels of engagement.

For major publishers, such as The Guardian, the most engaging articles on their website are traditional text articles.  But when it comes to Facebook, the top performing content is video. Below are their top four posts ranked by engagement.BuzzSumo research Facebook video is most engaging format

See the most engaging posts in your topic areas

Find Evergreen Content

What Are The Video Topics That Generate Most Facebook Engagement?

The most popular video topics ranked by Facebook engagements were as follows.Facebook videos that get the most interactionAs we can see food is a very popular topic. Pages such as BuzzFeed Tasty get very high levels of engagement. Below are their top four videos in the last 6 months. Turns out that Banana Bread Cheesecake is considerably more engaging than Real Estate – in Facebook videos, at least…Food is a popular video format on Facebook

When it comes to DIY, pages like First Media Blossom also generate exceptionally high levels of engagement. Below are their top videos in the last year. DIY videos perform well on Facebook

These are in effect how-to videos that are well edited with high production value. Food and DIY are visual topics with broad appeal, so they lend themselves well to short videos.

What Is The Optimum Length For A Facebook Video?

As we can see from the chart below, our analysis of 100m Facebook videos published last year  shows that shorter videos generate more interactions on average. The sweet spot for video length is 60 to 90 seconds.Best length for Facebook videos

After 90 seconds average engagement fell as the video length increased, until around 6 minutes when engagement remained constant. It is interesting to note that very short videos of below 30 seconds generated the lowest engagement on average overall.

What Is The Optimum Length For A Facebook Live Video?

The number of Facebook Live video broadcasts are growing. In April 2017, Fidji Simo, Facebook’s head of video, announced that 20% of all Facebook videos are broadcast live and that the daily watch time for live videos had quadrupled in the last year. This is in part due to the priority Facebook has been giving to live video.

Our analysis of Facebook Live videos found that interactions increase the longer the video lasts, until about 15-16 minutes. After this time the interactions remain fairly stable.Best length for Facebook live video

This makes intuitive sense as Facebook Live Videos will typically be longer than other videos. For example, if you are doing a live Q&A then a video of under say 3 minutes is unlikely to provide much value. Also doing a live session requires a certain minimum time to allow users to join or see the event is taking place. From the data it would appear that Facebook Live videos should be a minimum of 15 minutes to gain maximum engagement.

When we looked at the top performing 10,000 Facebook Live videos we found they were 20 minutes long on average.

Average Interactions For Live and Non-Live Facebook Videos

Overall the average engagement with Facebook and Facebook Live videos was very similar.

  • Facebook videos: 928 average interactions
  • Facebook Live videos: 1043 average interactions

This was surprising as many people are reporting much higher levels of engagement with Live videos. However, we should emphasise that these are average figures across a very large sample of posts. 

We also found that Facebook Live videos attract a much higher number of comments relative to overall interactions. Around 25% of the interactions were comments. This makes sense as it’s a live session with people asking and answering questions and responding in real time.

What Are The Most Common Reactions To Videos?

We analyzed the most popular reactions to videos on average. In an increasingly polarised world it was good to see that the most dominant emotional reactions to videos were laughter and love.
Most common reactions to Facebook Videos[Note: The chart shows average interactions based on the dominant reaction to the video. Thus where HaHa was the dominant reaction the average number of interactions was over 750.]
There were so many different videos that provoked laughter, but many were simple and joyful such as this one.

Facebook video baby

If only all audiences were as engaged as this little girl…

The top videos generating love reactions tended to be more reactions to films, sports stars and celebrities. Here are a few examples.

Most loved Facebook videos

The average reactions to Facebook Live videos were different as we might expect. Typically there were less laughter reactions with love being the top reaction on average. You probably don’t want people laughing at your Facebook Live video, at least in a B2B context… Top reactions to Facebook live videos

[Chart note: The chart shows the average interactions based on the dominant reaction to the video. Thus where Love was the dominant reaction the average number of interactions for the video was nearly 500.]

How Much Introduction Text Should You Use For A Facebook video?

We analyzed the top 10,000 most engaging Facebook videos between June 2016 and June 2017 and found that for these top performing videos the introduction text was very short. The average was 84 characters and the median was 61 characters.

As an example here are the top three video posts for the Redbull Facebook Page. They keep the introduction very short and just get you to dive into the video:

redbull facebook videos

Want To Create Great Facebook Video? 5 Takeaways

There are number of observations we can make from our analysis of the top performing 10,000 Facebook videos last year, and tips for what you can do to make the most of Facebook video.

  • Keep it short: The videos were typically short with an average length of 115 seconds and a median of just 65 seconds.
  • Keep the intro crisp: The introductory text to these Facebook videos was also short with a median of 61 characters. The post text encouraged you to just dive into the video.
  • Try going Live: Facebook is promoting Facebook Live video, and these can be longer – think 15 to 20 minute focused sessions.
  • Hacks, Tips and How-tos: These types of videos perform particularly well, as do inspirational and humorous videos.
  • Create shareable content: The top videos were more likely to be shared than liked. This makes videos very powerful for content marketers and publishers on Facebook. Studies show that people like to share valuable and entertaining content and this particularly applies to video.

Do Your Own Facebook Analysis

BuzzSumo’s Facebook Analyzer allows you to analyze public posts on any topic or published by any page. You can filter by date, by content type such as videos or images and sort by the most likes, shares or comments. You can search for top posts on a topic or enter a Facebook page to get a detailed analysis of their content including most engaging post types, average engagements over time, days and times of day when they get most engagement and much more. You can also export data to undertake further analysis. Sign up for a 14 day free free trial and give it a test run.

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35 responses to “Facebook Video Engagement: What We Learned From Analyzing 100 Million Videos”

  1. Fernando Santos says:

    Thank you very much for the info. Would you please say if the 1:1 videos has more engagement than the paronamic videos?


    • Steve Rayson says:

      Hi Fernando, unfortunately we don’t have that data. Something else for us to look at in future.

  2. Ray Beharry says:

    ” It is interesting to note that very short videos of below 30 seconds generated the lowest engagement on average overall.”

    Engagement is an interaction.,
    What is the number of completed video views for the varying lengths?
    FB counts :03 or more as a view.
    How many are viewed to 95%?

    • Steve Rayson says:

      Hi Ray, good questions. Unfortunately we don’t track completed views or numbers of views. we were just looking at engagements in the form of likes, shares and comments. Definitely be something for a further study to look at. Someone else has already pointed out that view length eg 90% is an important consideration. Will see if we can get that data.

  3. Julia Bramble says:

    Brilliant resource – thank you – and one I’ll be sharing!
    As has already been asked, it would be fantastic to know which video format (landscape, portrait or square) drives the most interaction ….
    and I’d love to see some of this data broken down for sectors – eg. is a short video intro as compelling in B2B say, as it is for sport/ food?
    Without sector-specific data it can be tempting to rush off and think ‘oh, for maximum engagement I need a 60- 90 sec video with an intro post of under 70 characters’ whereas your sector might just be the outlier where the opposite is true!
    Thanks so much – lots of food for thought here!

    • Dimitri Stuer says:

      That’s really a good topic you’re talking about: which video format drives the most interaction: landscape or square. I think for Instagram video, it’s better to use square. For Facebook you can use both, alternately. It depends on the subject, I think.

    • Steve Rayson says:

      Great points Julia. These are just average figures you really have to research what works for your audience, your topic and your objectives. I am doing some more research looking at specific sectors, so let me know if there are specific ones you would like me to explore.

      • Julia Bramble says:

        Oooh how exciting!! B2B (marketing) would be amazing please – as I’m guessing if you took the average (mean) of the data you described in the article, it would have been skewed by the sectors using the most videos… Also I’d love to know what works best for small, local businesses, as opposed to larger brands/ celebritities please, if that’s at all possible!!
        Thank you for your fantastic and comprehensive research!

      • Julian says:

        Excellent analysis Steve, thanks for your efforts! If you are taking suggestions for further research, Steve, I’m very interested in the Fashion sector which you’ve already identified as being the second most popular video topic ranked by Facebook engagements. Since it’s significance is quite high, I guess reader interest will also be high. Thanks for considering 🙂

        And, you make some great observations Julia, well done.

  4. Andy Reese says:

    Very good post. Do do you measure financial impact to the brand vs. engagement (ROI)?

    • Steve Rayson says:

      Thanks. Here we are only analyzing engagement data which is what is available to us. Brands would also want to track against their objectives such as conversions, followers etc.

  5. Andrew Hall says:

    Solid piece of research Steve. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Josh Miller says:

    What about the use of captions since videos play without sound by default? Doesn’t that increase engagement as well?

    • Steve Rayson says:

      Yes, good point. there have been separate studies on this aspect. They show that most Facebook videos are played with sound off.

    • Daniela Reeve says:

      Thanks for pointing this out. I was coming here to say just this. Speaking as someone in the transcription/captioning business, it baffles me that there is such a large amount of visual media without captions.

  7. Devin Stagg says:

    Seriously awesome data points and insights, thank you!

  8. Leslie Burnett says:

    Great information! Especially since I make food related videos 🙂

  9. PicToMagnet says:

    Great information – thank you for sharing

  10. PicToMagnet says:

    would you have a hard copy as would be great to review ? thanks Simon

  11. Sadrach Baker says:

    Great tips shared here – thanks 🙂

  12. Andrea Ramos Cornejo says:

    Thanks, Steve! top information!! I’m interested to know what is actually the performance of de Facebook Cover Videos. It is possible to know the average engagement; how long them stay on-air and if then have impact over the number of fans?

  13. This is gold! Thank you Buzzsumo.

  14. Marium says:

    Would love to know more about Personal Finances, Debt and Saving money. Also would love to know more about Travel

  15. Sherry Hayes-Peirce says:

    Awesome guide! Thank you for crunching the numbers and sharing best practices. I have already seen a boost in engagement just doing a weekly 2 minute or so video. Any data on if you use BeLive or something getting better numbers than just using the native tools? Will Facebook be offering lower thirds soon? I love the captions option and use it. That’s another question any stats on videos with captions vs. without stats?
    The best tool shared is the analyzer!

  16. Donna Moritz says:

    Awesome stats Steve! Super helpful. Thanks for diving into the data to put this together. Was great to see you in Cleveland at CMW!

  17. Khalil Shreateh says:

    thank buzzumo for this useful analytic article, i have been working on private extension that spreads videos over Facebook limits. however this the correct values for the highest top video engagements :

    Shopping and fashion”,”audience_size”:1304303310

    for more details you cant contact me via PM.