YouTube vs Facebook: Which Is Best for Your Brand?

18 September, 2020
George Pappas
6min read


  • Platform differences  

The profusion of social media channels available today can confuse even the most perceptive business owners when it comes to the placement of your marketing videos. The differences and comparative advantages between Facebook and YouTube can be confusing and initially difficult. It is hard to know where to start, understand which one is best for your brand and how to get the best return on your investment. Both platforms provide an opportunity to reach your audience but where should you focus your efforts? To begin with its best to understand the chief differences and advantages of the two platforms.   

Platform differences  

We all know that videos do work – we just have to look at successful marketing campaigns like Dollar Shave Club (2012), the Ice Bucket Challenge (2014), Dove Real Beauty (2013) –  all demonstrate just how effective a good video can be. Music, imagery, and words work together to create an experience for the viewer. There is no single successful formula but some of the best draw upon combinations of emotion, information, and/or entertainment value. More importantly, understanding your intended platform is essential. But before you can choose it is best to understand the differences between Facebook and YouTube. 

Facebook videos are all about virality – if your videos are clever and engaging people will ‘like’ them and share them with their friends and contacts, but you need to recognise they are short term and have a shelf life of only a few days. On the other hand, while people need to search for videos on YouTube, they have a ‘permanent’ shelf-life. Facebook is great for funny, entertaining eye-catching videos while YouTube videos are more likely to tell a story and be more informative. 

People on Facebook have less time, and are more likely to be doing something else at the same time such as travelling or in a queue – they may have to stop watching immediately to get off a train or join a meeting. You need to grab their attention and make your point quickly. They may also have the sound switched down or off and be watching on a mobile device so visuals are king. For those watching YouTube it is more a dedicated activity where they already primed for a video watching experience, perhaps with a bigger screen and audio speakers or headphones – perfect if your video has music or a narrator. You need to keep these factors in mind when deciding on which platform suits your product positioning. 

Which platform provides the best value for money? 

So now you have a better idea of some of the differences between Facebook and YouTube how do you decide about where the best value lies?  Well again, its horses for courses. If you want to put your video in front of as many eyeballs as possible, you may opt for using Facebook. It can cost you less and has better audience targeting features – you can use age, gender, and general interests when choosing who to target. 

Facebook is versatile & offers three different options for buying ads:  

  • ThruPlay – shown to those who watch the full ad if it’s less than 15 seconds long. 


  • 10 second – shown to those who watch 10 seconds or more of a video. 


  • 2 second – shown to those who watch two seconds or more of a video. 


Remember, while each one is different, if your website marketing ad is watched for three seconds or longer, it is counted as a view. 

YouTube has 2 video marketing options: 

  • in-stream or 


  • in-display

In-stream plays before or during a video and allows the user the option to opt out after the first 5 seconds. In-display ads are located outside of the video you are watching and are only played if the user clicks on them. YouTube can only put so many ads into a video; the other option relies on users to click on the ad, which is unlikely. 

Facebook boasts that it captures about a quarter of all video ad spend in the United States. Facebook is generally cheaper as people can scroll through multiple ads in one session, making Facebook more money. As a result, they can put more ads in and don’t need to charge as much. But If you want to pay for quality watched time, YouTube is a better option and from the sheer number of videos on YouTube, many opt for this platform.

It may be sensible to cover your bases and consider both platforms – but be aware to avoid the common mistake some companies make by having the same video content and video marketing strategy for Facebook and YouTube. 

Facebook is not competing with YouTube on videos/video marketing but in fact complementing it. 

How do you measure success?

At the end of the day whichever platform you chose, you need to measure its success. This will involve assessing metrics – the number of views, total watch time, engagement, sharing and conversions. Your video’s view count is the simplest of the video metrics to track because it is just a simple count of how many people saw your video. For Facebook that can be as low as just 2 seconds but for YouTube it is more like 5-15 seconds, depending on the placement. Watch time is the total amount of time all viewers have spent watching your video, combined and it gives you the best overall idea of the success of your video measuring how much time your combined audience has spent taking in your message. The engagement rate (likes, shares, comments) is the most important metric for many social media marketers because higher engagement means your content is resonating with the audience, however these are only possible on Facebook and not YouTube ads. Sharing indicates a high level of user engagement and indicates how the reach of your video is being extended, getting in front of more people than you access initially. Conversions indicate the number of people who take a desired action after watching your video, such as clicking through to your website. These are just some of the many ways you can check the effectiveness of your Facebook or YouTube Video. 

G Squared’s experience with each platform (case studies) and our recommendations.  

G Squared is in an ideal position to help you decide which platform is best for your company and product. Here are two examples of video marketing campaigns we have run that have both been successful.

With a $1,000 budget, G Squared promoted a 20-second video ad on Facebook for a tech company that targeted tech-users and creative professionals, as well as lookalike audiences. The ad which ran for 4 weeks reached over 134,000 users, accrued over 17,000 engagements and lead to more than 2,400 outbound clicks. 

On another campaign, G Squared used YouTube ads to launch a tech company’s new brand to the Australian gaming market. The ads reached over 380,000 users, accrued over 50,000 engagements, and averaged a cost of $11.95 per 1,000 people reached. 

Industry and service insights that will affect your ad campaigns? 

G Squared can help you decide which platform is best for your needs but here are a few simple things to remember. Facebook is all about sharing content so create content that compels people to share. Visuals need to explain themselves – large bold text and graphics can help, and add subtitles as needed or work in animations. Above all, keep it short and engaging with content that drives viewers to the website. Add a title to catch the imagination that will compel viewers to pause and enjoy! 

With YouTube make sure your ad is loaded with clear call-to-actions and a strong hook to pull the viewer to the next step. Telling a story throughout your video helps to keep viewers glued until the end, and if they have completed an entire video – you are on the money! 

Finally, seek expert advice and get to know the platform you choose as well as you can so you can make the most of it. 

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