Facebook, Instagram, YouTube: the competition among video platforms is heating up

Where is the best place to present your moving images. Spoiler: it depends...

Facebook, Instagram, YouTube: the competition among video platforms is heating up

YouTube’s market power in the video sector long seemed unassailable. After all, competitors like Vimeo are many times smaller. Facebook, however, is sawing on YouTube’s throne: initially with a moving image offensive on its own platform, and now with “IGTV” on Instagram. Suddenly, it’s not that easy to choose where to be active in video.

YouTube: the master of the masses

When it comes to sheer size, there is still no way around YouTube. The official statistics become more dizzying from year to year: videos with a total duration of one billion hours are now played daily on YouTube. That is equivalent to almost 115,000 years. Per day.

The strength of the “grandfather of video” lies in the long tail. YouTube is also the second largest search engine in the world after Google. For this reason, videos can still find new viewers here weeks, months or even years after publication. And this happens simply because these videos naturally appear in matching Google searches.

On the other hand, YouTube has hardly managed to position itself as a community over the years. From time to time, new features are offered to allow channel operators to communicate with their followers even between videos. But it doesn’t seem to have really taken off yet.

The platform nevertheless remains the go-to solution for reaching users interested in specific topics or issues. And it provides the possibility to develop a followership at the same time. However, this requires a clear strategy, appropriately prepared content and continuous work.

Facebook: the master of the social web

When it comes to potential reach, Facebook takes the game to another level at least in terms of user numbers. The company most recently reported 2.2 billion active users per month. YouTube refers to 1 billion users in its official statistics without further defining how many of them are active at least once a month.

In this respect, Facebook is in a good starting position and many companies are already present on the platform anyway. At the same time, however, it is clear that user numbers alone is not enough. After all, the video portal “Facebook Watch” doesn’t really seem to be gaining momentum. What continues to work well, however, are videos as part of a general content strategy on Facebook.

One significant difference as compared to YouTube is that users do not search for specific content here. Instead, they receive the content in various ways depending on whether they follow a page or one of their Facebook friends shares, likes or comments on a video.

So you don’t develop a portfolio of moving images here like you would on YouTube. It’s more about using the reach of (live) video to help attract attention to your Facebook page. Last but not least, you can reach new viewers for your videos using Facebook Ads.

Instagram: the master of influencers

Facebook’s Instagram has been working on becoming a video platform since 2013. In the beginning it only offered 15 seconds of moving images. This has become more and more relaxed over the years, however. Most recently, “IGTV” was unveiled at a vibrant kick-off event in San Francisco. The videos can now be up to an hour long and are posted in vertical format.

Instagram is the stronghold of influencers alongside YouTube. Depending on the topic, the two platforms already had a lot of overlaps. It therefore seems logical for Instagram to make another step toward becoming a video portal.

Instagram’s offer is entirely designed for mobile use. This is not only seen in the vertical format. As soon as you open IGTV, the first video starts without requiring any searching or selecting. This is just the right format for anyone looking for a little distraction while on the go, for example. With a simple swipe, you can switch to the next video or channel.

It is not yet clear what the success factors of IGTV will be or whether the offer will even really take off. However, it can be assumed that shorter videos will tend to be more popular. It would therefore be better to share one thought, one idea or one tip per video instead of providing full instructions, as can be found on YouTube.

The bottom line

IGTV is of course being dubbed by many as an attack on YouTube. There is some substance to that. After all, YouTube itself says that more than half of all videos are watched on mobile devices, even though the video portal is not ideally prepared for this usage. Instagram, on the other hand, relies entirely on the mobile generation. And that could be a decisive factor when it comes to winning over the “influencers” and “creators” for its platform.

Companies will realize that the three offers ultimately have very different characters. This means, on the one hand, that it hardly makes sense to use the same video content across all channels. On the other hand, different target groups can be reached in different situations. As such, content can be much more closely aligned with these different groups and situations.