Facebook Video Performance Index 2017: Trends, Stats and Takeaways

Our comprehensive analysis of Facebook videos in 2017 is here!  This trend report is based on an analysis of over 33,000 videos, created by almost 300 publishers, that appeared on 500-plus Facebook pages between December 2016 and December 2017. We’ve identified the key trends that brands, media companies need to know and how to best leverage them for success. From elements such as aspect ratio, duration and engagement to tips on titles that correlate to success, the 2017 Index has key insights for any video strategy.

The report incorporates and compares the statistics from our previous analyses (Q1 Social Video Index, Q2 Social Video Index, Q3 Social Video Index) with new data from Q4 (September 2017 – December 2017). One notable finding is that views are on the decline. Following significant increases in the first half of the year, declines of 8-15 percent in the second half point to the impact of the changes to Facebook’s newsfeed.

“While we’re only seeing the headlines about Facebook’s latest changes now, our 2017 report shows the impact is already setting in, and this makes it even more important for brands and publishers to know and act on trends,” said co-founder and CEO Dror Ginzberg. “Let’s also remember that, even with algorithm changes, Facebook is second to none when it comes to opportunity to reach and engage with audiences, and the best approach is one that focuses on your specific audience and video content they will think is worth sharing.”

2017 Social Video Performance Trend Highlights

    • Views are declining: Changes in Facebook’s newsfeed are already impacting video performance, as indicated by a declining engagement in H2 following significant increases in the first half of the year.
    • Square is the Winning Format: While not yet the majority of produced videos, this format consistently shows a  significant advantage over other aspect ratios, in particular, the increasingly important “comments” metric.
    • The “1 percent” Persists: A minority of videos take the lion’s share of engagement, but those videos come from publishers of all size
    • Longer Videos get Better Results: The majority of social videos are between 30 and 60s, so hold the highest share of total views, however videos longer than 90 seconds have considerably higher per-video metrics.
    • All Video is Not Created Equal: Some content is simply more viral-ready, often because of simple factors like production techniques and story lines that have proven appealing to a particular audience.
    • “In the Know”: titles are popular but don’t perform: While video titles purporting to show something the viewer NEEDS to know are common, these videos receive considerably fewer views (15-70 percent fewer!) than average.


2017 Trends by the Numbers

Views are Going Down

While Facebook only recently announced new changes in the newsfeed that will de-prioritize content from brands and publishers in lieu of posts from family and friends, such changes were going on all throughout 2017. A likely result of these changes was that the trend of increasing in views and engagement seen during the first half of the year was followed by declines in the second. Facebook views per video decreased by 8% on the third quarter following by an additional 15% decline on the fourth quarter.

Key takeaway: Especially given Facebook’s latest algorithm changes, publishers face new challenges in getting their content seen, making it more important to be aware of the latest trends and seize every opportunity to gain an edge.

Square is the Winning Format

This was the year of square video. In just one year since Wochit introduced a tool that enables creators to easily produce videos in less-traditional aspect ratios like 1:1, we saw the format’s popularity and effectiveness soar. The share of square videos increased every quarter of the year, growing from 26% of all videos in Q1 to 50% in Q4.

Square video, which provides a better viewing experience on mobile devices, significantly outperforms horizontal videos across all engagement metrics.

It is no wonder we’ve reached a tipping point, and in 2018, we project that square videos will make up the majority of videos on O&O websites and social.

Key takeaway: With more and more viewing happening on the go, mobile devices have become the primary screen on which viewers consume content, which makes producing mobile-friendly content an even greater imperative.

Video’s “1 percent” Persists

Consistent throughout the year, only 1.2% of videos “go viral”, which we define as receiving over a million views. This relatively small quantity of videos is responsible for the lion’s share of total engagement this year, receiving 38.7% of total views and 58.3% of total shares.

Popular videos, defined as having 100,000 or more views, comprise only 18.9% of the total amount yet account for 43.3% of the views and 33.5% of shares.

Videos receiving fewer than 100,000 make up the vast majority of quantity at 79.9%, but receive only 18% of the total views and 8.1% of the total shares.

The good news is that, looking throughout the year, we saw several publishers getting up to 10% of their videos going viral. Sure, some of them have an advantage of large followings to begin with (e.g., Editorial Televisa with magazines like National Geographic), but not all do. For example, USA Today HumanKind has less than 1 million followers, but still a whopping 12.4% of their videos created with Wochit went viral in 2017.

Key takeaway: While millions of followers will make getting millions of views easier, creating more content in line with viewer tastes will up even small publishers’ chances.

Longer Videos Are Getting Better Results

Another trend we saw throughout 2017 is that videos over 90 seconds have a much higher rate of engagement than videos of other durations. Indeed in 2017, videos over 90 seconds received 52.1% more shares (1192 compared to 783) and 48.2% more views (161,309 vs. 108,872) than the average of all videos).

This trend was seemingly apparent to publishers, who throughout 2017, increased the number of long videos they published on Facebook. In  Q1, only 12.6% of Facebook videos fell in the 90+ second category, and by Q4, that number had reached 22.1%.

With this elevated engagement rate as well as the opportunity that longer video has for monetization through Facebook midroll, we expect the proportion of 90-second-plus videos to continue climbing in 2018.

Key takeaway: Videos with a duration of 90 seconds or longer will continue to grow in popularity with publishers, as they hold great promise for increased audience engagement AND open the opportunity to monetize via Facebook mid-roll.

LATAM Audiences are the Most Engaged

Overall, average engagement per video is highest across all metrics in LATAM, with shares outpacing the average by nearly triple (269.6%). LATAM videos also attained 253.3% more reactions, 166.8% more views and 134.3% more comments. While views in LATAM dropped in Q4 below the average video (from average of 271,739 views in Q3 to 181,638 in Q4), this region still leads in terms of video engagement in 2017.

Key takeaway: This sizeable audience is a highly valuable one that should not be overlooked by publishers, content creators or brands

All Facebook Video is Not Created Equal

In previous reports, we observed an interesting phenomenon: social videos made using the Wochit platform received significantly more engagement than did other videos posted to the same Facebook pages by the same publishers. This held true in Q4.

We’ve dubbed this phenomenon “The Wochit Effect” but its drivers are variables that every producer can take advantage of in their own video strategy.

  • Optimize for social viewing, which is often mobile and done without sound
  • Put those who know the audience best on the video team to ensure you’re creating the content they most want to see
  • Don’t get bogged down by artistry
  • Make informed decisions about topics and visual identity to make sure your brand and its personality are clear

Key takeaway: When creating content based on viewer behavior is more important than being a creative genius, publishers should entrust those who know the audience best with video production and equip them with the right technological tools.  

Facts About Fun Facebook Video Titles

Based on our analysis of more than 33,000 videos published in Facebook in 2017, we identified the following, interesting title trends:

Now we all Know: “In the Know” Titles are Popular, but Don’t Perform

Examining the most common three and four-word phrases in video titles, we noted that most frequently occurring ones essentially posit there’s something the viewer should know. The below chart shows the most common phrases in decreasing order of frequency, while the X-axis shows the average views across the videos using that phrasing.

What we found is that, while popular, this style of titles isn’t necessarily an effective “hook” for audiences. In fact, the average views for these videos fall considerably (15-70%) below the average of all videos.

Who’s News Doesn’t Equate to Who Gets Views

Unsurprisingly, President Donald Trump was the individual most frequently mentioned in Facebook video titles, however, perhaps fittingly, pervasiveness does not popularity make. Video titles that mentioned former President Obama received more than twice the views on average than did those mentioning the current President. Even Melania Trump’s average viewership ranked higher than that of her husband.

When People think in 5s, be the 7

When it comes to quantity, there are more Facebook titles that incorporate the number 5 or 10, however in terms of views, 7 is where it’s at.

Once and for all, size DOESN’T matter

We looked into the length of video titles and found that there is essentially no correlation between length of a title and popularity. There is a wide variety of word lengths, between 1 and 15 words, with 7-8 word titles being the most common. Almost a quarter of videos (23.8%) don’t have a title at all. And our data show that, if any title length has any impact on viewership, it is a minor one, indicated by a slightly higher views for videos with longer titles:

Key takeaway: Templated titles works less often than you think. Invest the time to come up with creative and novel titles to get audiences’ attention.

Most Viewed Videos of 2017

We analyzed the top 20 videos in 2017. They were viewed 576,482,828 times and shared over 7,784,345 times this year. We viewed and rated them. Results were inline with our viral video analysis from earlier this year. Here are the highlights:

  • 85% of the top 20 viral videos in 2017 were emotional
  • 90% videos were positive
  • 50% were timely and 50% evergreen
  • 75% of the videos used editorial assets
  • 80% of the videos included video assets

Here are the top 3 Wochit-made Facebook videos of 2017:

CBS News The News Press USA TODAY HumanKind
Stranger stops to offer young man ride to work Loving swan reunites with partner, and it’s magical This is what true love looks like
92M views, 1.6M shares 70M views, 170 shares 60M views, 380K shares

Hope that the report was beneficial to your video program. Make sure to register for our blog updates to get the next research directly to your inbox!


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