I got my first notification that Twitter was rolling out the much-anticipated native video upload capability to everyone yesterday, so today I tested it out a bit and have a few related thoughts on video measurements, especially what metrics to discount.
Twitter Video Uploading
This is a screenshot from my phone of my first video post. (Paper Camera and Hyperlapse are a photo/video editing and timelapse apps, respectively, that I use frequently. ) You can record a video directly from Twitter’s mobile app or you can upload video you’ve previously shot. Videos are limited to 30 seconds or shorter but advertisers get to upload longer videos.
This is how the video looks using Twitter’s embed code.
Twitter is on a mission to acquire more users, so they are likely going to be promoting the ability to embed tweets.
Twitter Video Metrics
Most important, though, is how your uploaded videos perform and this is where Twitter underwhelms. Here’s a screenshot of the metrics a couple hours after I uploaded my video:
These are just the standard metrics you get with any tweet. The only indication I have that anyone actually watched the video is the fact that someone replied to me asking if I held the video myself or had it on a mount. (No comment). Twitter gives me nothing, not even a simple views metric.
But they are not the only social network lacking in video engagement reporting.
Facebook Video Metrics
Facebook has had the ability to upload video directly for some time and that, of course, is why Twitter added the feature. I recently uploaded the latest episode of my podcast to my personal Facebook page simply to see how it would perform. The reporting was underwhelming with Facebook as well, but at least they gave me something. Note the views number on the left just below the video in this screenshot:
With Facebook, at least I get a number but the number is fairly meaningless. What does a “view” mean? Does it count as a view if someone scrolls by it and it autoplays while they scroll past? Does it count as a view if someone only watches the first 10 seconds of a 25-minute clip? It’s a vanity metric and nothing else.
Vine & Instagram Video Metrics
Vine “loops” their six second videos over and over again and counts the loops and now Instagram is implementing auto-replay. So, do multiple views count as individual views even when viewed by the same person? Of course they do. But, again, without more context, it means next to nothing.
YouTube Video Metrics
Leave it to the video heavyweight (still) to provide meaningful metrics.
Of all the free video upload services, YouTube (from the folks who brought you Google Analytics, not coincidentally) gives you metrics that mean something and therefore matter.
This is a screenshot of some engagement metrics for a YouTube video I shot four years ago. The caveat with YouTube metrics is you need to have a critical mass of views before you get the metrics, so if you’ve only got 100 views, you’re out of luck.
These metrics give me an average view duration and percent and, more interestingly, if gives me attention metrics throughout the video so I can see what content is more or less interesting to my audience.
The Jeep Wave Video
Of all the free tools, the newest entries into the video upload market have a long ways to go in giving us meaningful metrics. So before you make any decisions or report to the boss on those view counts, know exactly what that means or does not mean.