Videos on Facebook: Native vs YouTube. Which Wins?

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Videos on Facebook: Native vs YouTube. Which Wins?

From 2014 to 2015, SEJ saw a clear increase in native video uploads on Facebook, versus YouTube video embeds, which had dominated Facebook until late 2014/early 2015.

However, over the last few months, we have heard numerous references eluding to the idea that Facebook was favoring native video uploads, versus third-party video embeds, such as YouTube.

Not too long ago, Facebook announced they would be limiting the reach of 3rd party images, which along with Facebook’s history of not exactly getting along with Google, made the concept a possibility and definitely something worth testing further.

At Search Engine Journal, we like to test these theories ourselves, especially since each page has a slightly different audience and not all ‘tactics’ apply equally.

So, we decided to partner with Kairay Media (my company) to conduct a more structured study, which compares the same video content, updated both as native video uploads and also as YouTube video embeds.


We really wanted to make sure we could compare both types of video updates, without any outside factors playing a role in the results, so we identified three separate Facebook pages, all with sizable followings, and identified seven videos that were ideal for each page (totaling 21 total videos and 42 total Facebook updates).

We set up a schedule to upload both versions of the video on the same day of the week, at the same time, on the same account, with one week separating the updates, so having seen the video recently would not affect the study results. Additionally, half the updates started with native video uploads first, with the other half starting with YouTube video embeds first, just in case seeing it a week later impacted

Additionally, half the updates started with native video uploads first, with the other half starting with YouTube video embeds first, just in case seeing it a week later did impact someone’s decision to like or engage with the update.

The study lasted for two weeks, after which we reviewed all the data.

Let’s take a look at the numbers:


Study Details

We utilized the following accounts:

The videos we selected were chosen to match the accounts they would be used on. For example, marketing related videos for Search Engine Journal and various interesting facts and trivia videos for the other two accounts.

For you that really love to see the numbers, you can view the engagement numbers here.



Facebook does seem to favor native video uploads versus third-party video embeds, at least when compared to YouTube. Of course whether they actually favor them or they just perform better is unknown, but either way, native video uploads on Facebook does seem to be the best approach right now.

In fact, our study indicated that on average, native videos reach 2.04 times more people, getting 2.38 times more likes, 2.67 times more shares, and 7.43 times more comments. 

Have You Noticed the Same?

Like any study, the more information you have, the better. So, have you noticed similar or contradicting results from uploading video directly to Facebook?

Please let us know in the comment below!

Brent Csutoras

Brent Csutoras

Managing Partner & Chief Social Media Strategist at Search Engine Journal
Founder & CEO of Pixel Road Designs, a well respected marketing design firm, and Managing Partner at Search Engine Journal. Brent has over 10 years... Read Full Bio
Brent Csutoras
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  • Anesti Vega

    This is a great and informative article! I’ve noticed, myself, that FB seems to prefer native videos to YouTube, especially with treating some youtube codes as external links instead of embedding the video it links to. Also, when you watch a native video on FB mobile app, there pops up a bar of other suggested videos that are also all native, helping to drive more views and engagement. It also helps tremendously that native videos start playing automatically on your timeline, which grabs attention better.

    • Brent Csutoras

      Thanks for the comment and you are right that there are a number of Facebook features that help their videos perform better than any third party videos.

  • David

    We have definitely noticed a spike in the initial organic reach of native videos vs. uploaded. Of course, longer term organic reach and engagement is largely going to be a product of the quality of the content. But still very interesting study, thanks for sharing!

    • Brent Csutoras

      Thanks David and of course I agree with you on the real impact being about using the information to promote quality content!

  • Matt

    Another reason that Facebook prefers native video upload over YouTube…Facebook has over the last 18 months declared war on badly behaving affiliate marketers whilst taking the approach of using a shotgun to shoot a fly. Placing Youtube videos in the stream financially favors affiliate marketers, not Facebook, and Facebook doesn’t like that one bit.

  • Ayaz Malik

    No Shiz Sherlock…
    Obviously facebook will prefer its own vids compared to youtube..

  • Kristy Harper

    I have always wondered which is a better approach. I usually use YouTube embed because I want to drive YouTube channel views. However, if I can see more actual brand engagement, I would like to test the Facebook native approach. Thanks for the study Brent!

    • Brent Csutoras

      My pleasure Kristy and we went through similar thoughts ourselves, which really made us want to know for sure which was a better choice for our video updates.

  • rahul

    Thats really true…. native videos reach more people and get more views and likes

  • Fabio Cuffaro

    We have been recommending to our clients to upload videos to Facebook vs embedding Youtube videos for nearly a year now. We had noticed a difference when we compared the stats between the two.

    Thank you for providing this information.

  • Eric

    Aside from reach and engagement, native videos’ have larger screens on the feed compared to the tiny thumbnail size of embedded Youtube videos, which also has an effect on engagement.

  • Ritoban Chakrabarti

    I’ve noticed the same thing. FB prefers native videos and they apparently get shared a lot more than Youtube embeds. My golden rule is to upload the same video to Youtube as well as Facebook to reach the most number of eyeballs.

    • Brent Csutoras

      That is a good plan overall, but I would also consider uploading to Vimeo as well.

  • Amit Shahani

    You have done good job and its really good information for us.
    yes i agree with you native video win

  • Julia McCoy

    I’m sharing your post so social media managers can give their video sharings on Facebook a thought. This is very useful for our in-house SMMs, too. Smart move on Facebook’s end. I’d also like to add that they’re considering doing the same in planning to limit third-party sharing of photos (in line with their “not getting along with Google”). Kudos to you and your team, Brent!

    • Brent Csutoras

      Thank you for sharing the post and for your comment here. I am glad you found this useful!

  • Neparno

    Thank you for this. It’s really valuable research, I’m sure lot of us were wondering about. I belive lot of people upload videos just on Youtube and share to FB because it’s easier and faster, but after reading this I can see giving bit more effort and time can be very valuable.

  • Ignaciosantiago

    Nice numbers Brent, but they don´t suprise me.

    Native video is more mobile friendly (and facebook has a huge % of mobile). It will start even without thinking of pressing “play”. That, compared to opening another window and waiting for it to load is the result you just worte down. I think there are lots of new opportunities for the video in facebook.

    Best regards.

  • Sharon

    What do you think about posting the same video on YouTube and Facebook? So you can embed the video on other social platforms and then natively on Facebook. Any problems with that?

  • Robert Payne

    Thanks for the informative article Brent. I would assume the same principles hold true on Twitter, but wanted to get your thoughts, and see if you’ve done any head to head comparisons on Twitter native videos vs promoted tweets that link to YouTube videos?

    • Brent Csutoras

      We actually have not tested Twitter. We are doing some of our studies (two more coming soon) as a sort of myth-busting exercise, where we are testing out theories we have heard people say or reference.

      I will add this to our list though, as it would be interest. In fact, it might be interesting to test across all the top social platforms.

  • Vaishakh Nair

    Good analysis Brent !! Just wanted to understand if there is any correlation between the reach of a video and its comments, shares and likes. How to increase the reach of a facebook video post through organic means ?