Which Social Network Is Best For Video Content?

We keep being told that video is the future of content. All the main social channels are pushing video, and brands, publishers and content creators in all sectors are pivoting to this medium.

With today’s technology it’s not hard to create video content. Most people in the western world have a Hollywood production company in their pocket. But it takes time and skill to make great video content, great video content that’s relevant and engaging for your audience (that’s a topic for a whole other blog post/series).

If you manage to crack that “small” aspect there’s still another hurdle to jump before your audience see it – which social network should you post your video to? And that’s what we’re here to find out today. It’s time for an experiment.

Now this blog isn’t going to be looking in to the technical details of which social network is best for video content (Twitter’s compression algorithm turns most video in to stop motion Lego for example) but more the numbers behind the best social network for video. We’re going to find out which channel will give you the best reach and engagement for your super awesome hashtag engaging content?


For this experiment I’m going to take a look at the stats behind 3 types of video I’ve created for Newcastle University and how they went down on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

To try and get a spread of stats I’ve picked different styles of videos, from glossy “cinematic” style content to some really quick, cheap and cheerful stuff. Then I’ll look at how they performed on average over three different videos for audience penetration (views compared to audience size) and engagement (engagements compared to impressions).

The results will be split up in to the different styles of video before providing an overall average for video performance on each channel.

“How can you do a video experiment and not include YouTube?” you might be asking. Well simply because some of the content I’m going to be looking at doesn’t belong on our YouTube channel. Sure some of the high quality stuff gets posted, but the cheap and cheerful simple video content just isn’t part of our YouTube strategy, so it wouldn’t be a fair comparison.

Ok, so ready for another deep dive in some numbers? Then I’ll begin.

Cinematic fancy pants videos

That’s the official term I use to describe the high production value video content we put out on our channels. It’s mainly used for campus porn and beauty shots to make things look pretty and get our audience all 😍. Here’s an example of what I mean:

Campus + snow = 😍 ❄️ ☃️

Opslået af Newcastle University på 30. november 2017

Pretty nice right?  But on average, how did this type of video perform on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter?

Audience penetration

When you compare the number of views to the size of the audience at the time of posting, there’s a clear winner for this type of content and that’s Instagram. It hits nearly 40% of the audience – nice.


Yup, that big sticky up bit is Instagram going in for the win again. Facebook comes in last here for engagement, which is probably due to the passive nature of viewing on the platform (no matter what Zucks wants the users to do) and huge audience size.

Quirky video

This type of video can encompass different styles but is generally more light-hearted in tone and aims to show off the fun side of campus life. They can be pulled together quickly and showcase events, holiday celebrations or just something a little bit different. They’re meant to make our audience do a bit of 😂 with some  😮. This kind of stuff:

Still looks pretty polished, but a bit less serious. Does that help swing the stats in any network’s favour? Lets find out.

Audience penetration

So quirky doesn’t get nearly as many views as classy, but the winner’s podium is still the same. Instagram is on top, with Facebook in second and Twitter trailing. Will engagement tell a similar story?


Like views, engagement takes a hit on quirky types of video but Instagram is still the clear winner. Facebook engagement is considerably lower than the other two considering a lot of people keep saying how engaging video is for this platform.

We’re starting to see a common theme developing here. But will cheap and cheerful “low budget” (I say that but all the content our team produce is on zero budget) video change things up?

Cheap and cheerful video

This is the really simple stuff we post in an attempt to “game” the algorithms a little bit. Why post a static image when you could push out a quick video that the algorithms will give a reach boost to? We save this kind of stuff for simple messages and celebrations to make our audience 🙂. Kind of like this:

Audience penetration

Oh hai Instagram, smashing it on the penetration yet again. And for the first time, Twitter takes silver with Facebook wallowing in third place. Could this be Facebook’s algorithm determining this kind of content isn’t worthy of organic reach? Does the inclusion of words on the screen make problems?

Lets see if this change makes a difference to engagement.


Not really then. Instagram is still the clear winner and Facebook brings up the rear when it comes to engagement.

Average video performance

So that’s how three different types of video content performs on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But what if we just look at video overall? Here’s how the data looks when you average things out across the board.

Audience penetration



Well it seems pretty clear from the data that Instagram is the winner when it comes to video content. Not only does the majority of  the audience get to see the content, but they also tend to engage with it more.

Facebook makes a decent use of it’s sizable audience, but that pesky algorithm still throttles the chance of reaching a decent proportion of the organic audience. As for engagement, it’s barely there.

Twitter is an odd one. Not a lot of people get to see the videos posted, but those that did were happy to engage with what they were seeing. The fact it doesn’t get many views is backed up by the results of a snap poll we ran last month:

All this doesn’t answer the question “is video content is the future for reach and engagement?” To find that out I’d need to compare the performance of video content on these channels to other content types. Another day, another blog post perhaps.

How do these results compare to your own video efforts? Have you seen similar performance from Instagram or do you have a better channel for video? Let me know in the comments.

About Matt Horne

I'm a broadcaster and social media guy who makes digital content and spends too much time on the internet so you don't have to.

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