There’s a whole world of difference in YouTube and Facebook when it comes to video marketing. To illustrate, we should look at YouTube as a library and Facebook as a cocktail party. (I’ll admit that I’ve stolen this analogy from the whip-smart Wistia guru Phil Nottingham)

So what does this Library/Cocktail Party distinction mean? Let’s explore:

YouTube: The Library

If you’re over 30 years old then you remember having to learn how to use the Dewey Decimal System and those little wooden card drawers in your school library in order to find and discover books. YouTube has the 21st-century version of that with its ever-present search bar.

That search bar is THE key distinction between YouTube video and Facebook video.

I would never go to Facebook to search “How to install a 2003 Honda Civic radiator”. Would I perform that same search on YouTube? You bet your ass I would. I actually have performed that search, and it saved me $250!

When you post a video to YouTube, it lives on way past its original post date. It can be found many months or years into the future via organic search or the “related videos” section on the right-hand sidebar.

So what does this mean for YouTube content strategy?

It means that you can know that even if your video doesn’t get an immediate spike in views when you first upload – it will likely receive a trickle of views on into the future via search and suggested videos (if the content is awesome).

It also means that – since YouTube is owned by Google – there’s always a chance that your video could show up in Google search results. This is actually a pretty clever hack to obtain page one SERP listings for Google. Here’s an article that goes a bit deeper.

Bottom Line? YouTubers come to YouTube with intent. They are there to search for something or browse their subscriptions. When you’re creating content for YouTube, think in terms or what your target customer might search for on Google or YouTube, then create content to fulfill that need.

To win big, make sure you optimize for the watch time, the #1 YouTube rank factor.

Facebook: The Cocktail Party

If people go to YouTube to search and learn, people go to Facebook to hang out with and check in with their friends.

Facebook is a cocktail party.

You aren’t there to discover any one particular thing. You’re there to see what’s going on with your network of friends. This is a completely different intent than YouTube, where you almost always arrive with some specific intention in mind.

Ever gone down a YouTube rabbit hole? Yeah, me too.

Ever gone down a Facebook video rabbit hole? Yeah, me neither.

On Facebook, your video will likely not live long past its original post date if it does not receive likes, shares, and comments.

That’s the difference. It’s all about user intent. To optimize for Facebook, you must create something that is interesting enough for your audience to stop scrolling and watch your video. This means shorter videos, since people are more likely to like, comment, and share on short videos. It also means that it’s even more important to grab the viewer in the first 5 seconds on Facebook.


Think about the real life scenario of a library and a coffee shop. What gets the most attention in a library? The book with the most helpful information. What gets the most attention at a cocktail party? The guy doing amazing card tricks.

Whether your video is going to a library or a cocktail party, optimize accordingly.