Facebook Video Stats Come Under Scrutiny


Facebook video statistics are big news these last few weeks. Stefanie and Sharon discuss the fallout from the breaking news and lawsuits over the last few weeks that accuse Facebook of misrepresenting their video watch time statistics. How does this affect the worlds of social media marketing and traditional publishing?

Listen to the podcast here:

Our discussion leads us from the lawsuits to the fallout in the publishing world from the explosion of video in general over the last few years. Some publishers went all and even created entire new departments often replacing traditional reports and outlets. But is video really all it is cracked up to be?

Listen in to hear our experts take on the still unfolding situation.




Stefanie LaHart: Hey everybody, so this is Stefanie LaHart and Sharon Noot from Tri-digital podcast and we have a lot going on today Sharon Noot don’t we, because of facebook video,


Sharon Noot: Oh yes,


Stefanie LaHart: What’s up with the that?


Sharon Noot: Big news.


Stefanie LaHart: You told me something that I was not aware of. Okay, now you know I live in a land of rainbows and unicorns where everything on social media is beautiful and wonderful and totally necessary, and then you called me the other day and you said to me “Do you realize people have lost their jobs over this video thing?”


Sharon Noot: This absolutely rocked the world of P.R. professionals when newsroom started to lay off their journalists, in mass, when the contacts you had Rolodex were leaving, because the news department or the publication decided, hey we’re going to pivot to video. So all of a sudden all these journalists are totally out of work and all these publications rooms decided to invest in video, and now what do you know years later after these journalists have been out of work and had to move on and do what the things they decide are they realize many people realize a video has not been as effective as they were told. 


Stefanie LaHart: Right, so the story really started breaking about 3 weeks ago in the news but, it’s been a story that’s been developing for a couple of years where there have been talks about it, there’s been a lot of you know discussions and then Facebook revealing information and not revealing information so you know again you know I am on the social media site so it is something that I usually recommend to my client saying hey you should do some kind of video and even for building my own business I had started doing a lot more Facebook video, specifically stuff that I was creating on Facebook like Facebook life so with native to Facebook and living there because Facebook started squashing all of the outbound links really, so if you were trying to link to something on YouTube or anywhere else or to your website all of a sudden you were just not getting any kind of viewer numbers they just really weren’t sharing with anyone. So we all start posting you know Facebook Live or native Facebook video as they call it and we were seeing numbers, that was being shown to us saying Hey people are watching your video and now what I’m learning is even those numbers are not what we thought they were.


Sharon Noot: Let me ask you this, did you as a consumer watch a lot of Facebook video when you’re scrolling through your timeline and looking if you saw a video from something that an advertisement or one of your feeds would you watch a lot of that or would you scroll past it?

Stefanie LaHart: Well, okay, so here’s the thing I’m a different animal for Facebook though because when I’m on Facebook I’m working. So I’m never just sitting there kind of just scrolling and watching stuff for my own interests, and I always tell people I’m like look I do social media drive by’s for my own personal interest, like I just I’m on and off and the rest of time I’m working so I’m not like a really good, example here, because really what Facebook targets are people that are you know watching are on Facebook or spending a lot of time on Facebook throughout their day, but not from a business sense right? But to answer your question honestly No I watched a very little video on Facebook. Now I will make one comment when I said that I had started to more Facebook for my own business, I was saying you know I don’t have a gigantic following on my Facebook page but I was seeing, viewer numbers that were in line with what you would think, like there would be the ratio, the percentage of what you would think right. What’s been interesting for me is, I have not had, just the general public or people who didn’t know me really making comments or interacting or contact me after a video but what it did for me, as a business owner, was suddenly let my own personal network more fully understand what I did as business and I ended up getting 3 business for us from people I knew though, and they were watching it because they specifically knew me and maybe just curiosity like why is Stefanie LaHart on all these videos. So I did generate business from it but, if I was doing it like in a paid way I don’t know if I would have seen anything so going back to what you were saying about the journalists tell me what happened in traditional P.R. then?


Sharon Noot: Well it was… I mean it still is actually still a problem that means there’s still a lot of journalists that newsrooms are continually shifting their people they’re always there constantly downsizing and changing things and for P.R. folks we really live and die by our relationship with journalists. So when journalists change that means that relationships changed. When you’re constantly having new people come into a newsroom or new people coming on to an editorial staff often very young people very green people which is

fine, but those folks are new to the business and what not those are new relationships that you have to develop. What’s most frustrating is, sometimes you’re searching for a contact you know that you’ve got a great story and it’s just literally impossible to find, the journalist that actually is working and is appropriate for the story and has not moved on to something else. Also that the publication has not moved to a completely new format, where they’re basically more of a pay to play concept rather than true journalism I mean so many outlets were struggling to make money so they have to figure out how they’re going to monetize so they’ve changed from being an editorial outlet to something completely different, so it also depends on if you’re going to be or consumer but it’s just changed the landscape tremendously and everyone has had to make an adjustment and continue to adjust.


Stefanie LaHart: Right, so but the new story that with that we’ve heard about in the last couple weeks was that Facebook was over-inflating their video numbers right?


Sharon Noot: Right.


Stefanie LaHart: So what was happening then on the P.R. side or the journalist side was what they thought that they were getting more viewership than they were?


Sharon Noot: Right, but I mean basically all the outlets they had journalists like newspapers you would see online they decided they wanted to pivot more to video, because video if what Facebook was saying was true that means people were consuming news through video rather than print or through words. So they would lay off departments or they’d shrink their newsroom and then they’d hire a video department and they’d build a video department and they would be producing video and putting up that up on their website and I think now even a lot of outlets are trying to shift back because the video hasn’t been affected for them. I had in an event that I did annually for many many years where I had you know print journalists that I worked with for a decade all of a sudden would be letting me know well you know we’ve been laid off or they would say our department has kind of made a shift to video so I’m going to come and do video coverage of your event rather than print coverage and you know it was just very apparent that you know companies were going to spend their money on video and media and turn was going to also start spending their money on video which means less money for print journalists.


Stefanie LaHart: Right. So did you see anything happening like specifically with your clients where they were saying that you’re specifically with your sources did you lose any sources? 


Sharon Noot: I lost a ton of sources. I think all the everyone in P.R. that’s been in P.R. for more than 10 years as you know 10 or 15 years has lost a ton of contacts and it’s been extremely depressing because these are people that are your friends, and actually a lot of them made the jump from journalism’s to P.R. They just switch sides which is great because you know they have that option, often the best public relations people are former reporters because they 1st of all they can’t write, their great writers and 2nd they understand what makes a great news story. So they could make a natural jump from the journalism the reporter side right into the agency or consultant side on the P.R. side of things and that at least you know I think for some of them was the brighter side of the story and hopefully they’re happy now in P.R. But yes, absolutely it changed it changed a lot of things going on in the P.R. world.


Stefanie LaHart: Yes, I mean that’s really interesting like I said there wasn’t something that I was super aware of I mean for a long time we have been wondering about the Facebook ad numbers and things like that because you know we’re seeing this data about the reach and impressions and things like that but knowing how people sit there on their mobile so on and scroll through the news feed, there was always the question of like well are you counting if somebody just scrolls by as if you and it turns out from what I’ve read that yeah like a three-second view was being counted and that’s why I think where the inflation came in. So people were stopping to watch the video.

Sharon Noot: No and you have to, the company should be, I would think I’m a little bit more conservative when they make wholesale changes in their business based on the information coming from one entity. I mean Facebook is like look at the power that they had as a company to be able to cause such a huge shift in momentum and money, but this all happened because of what they reported from you know basically their audit in P.R. we look at outlets that were pitching and we look at the places where we want to have our stories and we look to see how many people are watching, what is the demographic makeup of that person does it match what I’m looking for with my client and if those numbers aren’t accurate then I mean that’s a that’s a big problem, I mean even we’ve always been challenged with making sure that the digital entities we’re trying to get our stories placed have very accurate descriptions of their audience figures and in those, you know, basically what you’re paying for. Everyone should be making sure that they’re completely doing their due diligence in that department 


Stefanie LaHart: Right, yes, and so now I guess it’s just going to be this ongoing suit then, this lawsuit against Facebook as they try and figure out you know… I mean what are they going to try and figure out they can sue Facebook and get what out of it? You can’t like change the past like you said departments are going and things like that. 


Sharon Noot: The question is have you… well it’s a little too soon but I’ll be interested to hear if in your business you see that there is a shift away from just video and it moves more to you know infographic type or static images and social media versus video because you’re in the during the social media world where you can have you know a tweet or an Instagram or you know a photo or a video and in my world where you know it’s video but it’s also print publications, and online news stories and basically we live with words so we will see that shift hopefully back more to print and to language and words and away from this balance out video but the big question is I mean here’s the question. Anyone under a certain age is grown up with their phone and they’re consuming all their information over their phone and they’re there they consume things, they consume video, they watch YouTube rather than get news from other places and they get their entertainment on YouTube. So once that audience completely matures are they going to be more receptive and look for a video for their news information and for you know basically everywhere we currently would our pushing traditional news stories yeah they’re not going to watch the television news and they’re not going to watch they’re not going to watch they’re not going to read the newspaper online are they going to go online and but the only look at the videos on the newspaper or are they going to read the article. I think the jury is still out you’re not going to know how these can these individuals who are going to consume their news…


Stefanie LaHart:  Well, we’ve already seen it with video that people, if you notice more and more, are transitioning to actually having captions and subtitles and actually having an article attached as well because yes people are seeking out news and they are clicking on video first but if you’re out in you know the public and you have your mobile phone, first of all you’re not going to have the, usually if you have any kind of social etiquette you’re not going to have the sound on so you do need some kind of caption running with the video game and see what they’re talking about and I think there’s a place for both and I definitely within my business I’m seeing you know just the trend just from the get go had been like yes we’re going to do a video but we’ll also have something written accompanying it to explain or give a little bit more detail or something within that as well, but when you’re talking about you know like well are people or are they only going to be watching video or what’s going to be going on I think the question we need to back up and ask is like how effective is Facebook for videos that’s the question. The video numbers that they were trying to say and charge for where you know in allegedly inflated it didn’t make sense you know as far as the advertising dollars and I can tell you just from the social media side. A huge… company within the social media called Social Media Examiner, which have been doing a lot of native Facebook video over the past year and a half they just made an announcement that they’re stopping all their Facebook video because they’re like you know, we’re not getting traffic on this, we’re getting far fewer views and that when they weren’t even coming from an advertising standpoint say actually still advertise on Facebook for their conference because they do social media marketing world. But, they were noticing, we’re putting all this video on there and people aren’t coming to Facebook to watch long form video they were saying. So if they do any kind of video it’s going to be very short snippets I guess. So there are long form video guess what everything’s going to youtube, so I think again it’s what you’re saying is where people expecting to see stuff. For as much as Facebook likes to try to be everything to all people at all times, if people aren’t going there expecting to watch it as like a network and you know what is the thing they just launch that the portal you know they’re trying to do that push but you know in reality our habit still is that we go to T.V. for news and youtube now has we’ve been trained we go to Youtube for a longer videos and I don’t see Facebook garnering that market as much as they think they are they want to be. Because like I said a huge company Social Media Examiner decided, we’re not doing long form video on Facebook anymore. And you know even me has a small business that made me step back and be like is it worth it to me to do many of my videos on Facebook, because you know, yes i did the initial interest from  my own personal circle but after I got those people and they know what I am doing and what I am talking about, like how much more bang for my buck am I going to get, I don’t know. Because I just actually relaunched my own channel, so I have been putting a lot of effort over there and I am sitting there thinking well should I do anything on facebook or do I just do a snippet, that direct some of to facebook in some way. I man of to youtube, you know.


Sharon Noot: Well, you have to keep in mind that in addition to just living in the Facebook world and the advertising dollars that companies might put into Facebook when new outlets of all kinds looked at what Facebook is doing and looked at Facebooks numbers. They decied… well they would figure, well we need to also pivot to video, so outlets completely seprate from (inaudible 16:13) like maybe a fitness magazine that you would read. So you would go to your fitness magazine and you are reading them online, you all of a sudden, a bunch of the reporters was laid off and they have a lot of videos now on the running publication or the fitness publication, because they said that Facebook niche said that these are the numbers, this is what people want so they are going to do that as well. What I would say the lesson to be learned here is that, companies independently have to look at their measurement  they have to see what kind of results they are getting, and if they are not getting results, from whatever changes they have been making in the way that they have tried to reach their consumers and there is definitely a problem, you can’t just take it at face value that even though Facebook is huge and obviously it sets a lot of the trends in the play you can’t, rely on that completely, you have to actually look at your own results.


Stefanie LaHart: Right, exactly like that company did, like I do for my own business and also, I am going to make a very bold statement here and that is written word is never going to be irradiated. I mean for as much as we think people aren’t going to read stuff you know what happens when email became a thing like 20-25 years ago? People are like, “oh my God, people are just going to email no body is ever going to write a letter again. Well that’s not true, you know, that didn’t kill people writing letters, in fact, what email did was make people write people more, so whether it just became digital or whatever, like people, are still interested in reading and writing, from where I come from, so I think…


Sharon Noot: Well, what about people said, now we have email no one is ever going to use the fax machine again. Who has a fax machine now that’s dead.


Stephaine:  But that is a different situation, the reason that facts started dying out is cause fax is incredibly insecure. So people remember that was the way you said all you secure documents, well it is incredible insecure, so the reason that you would do security counting and also, it just became an out dated technology, you know, unless there is an online fax replacement which they are but there were other better ways of doing things, there isn’t a better way  of writting, like there always has to be some kind of written word, I think to provide more explaination.


Sharon Noot: Something very magical about standing infront of the fax machine waiting for that ring because it is the most important thing.


Stefanie LaHart: Would you like to bring the dail up modem back too Sharon Noot.


Sharon Noot: You are standing infront of the fax machine, you are trying to making sure no one walks over and you are kindoof like of but this is kind of private and fortunately the pages come in face down. 


Stefanie LaHart: Do you know, when I planed my paris trip back in 1995, I made all of my reservation through a fax machine.


Sharon Noot: Fax Machine, use to be..,


Stefanie LaHart: Fax was everything.


Sharon Noot: Man I just remember logging an actual fax machine to events, after carrying the big old fax machine to your mobile newsroom, so you can be faxing reporters, your breaking news.


 Stefanie LaHart: I had no idea.


Sharon Noot: I don’t know how many people remember that. But yest that was part the(inaudible 19:30-19:31) thank goodness for emails.


Stefanie LaHart: Well I think the cautionary tale for this just in general is that we just need to be I think a little bit more suspicious about what facebook does or says, you know, I think… you know also what it is? It is always that you know well it is ease, so people always choose convinence over actual facts and I think just, we just need to be aware of that you know, Facebook keeps… things keep roling out that are questioning what is going on in Facebook and I think there need to be more diligences about following up on that. So if services are created or changes are made, you know there as to be, some kind of like check up on that, to make sur that itis legit. I don’t think we can take…. can that be our takeaway? You don’t take things at face value, from Facebook.


Sharon Noot: The take away is don’t pivot.


Stefanie LaHart: Don’t pivot, okay.


Sharon Noot: I mean the whole… well I am using the word when I say pivot because it became… that is what everyone was saying. all the outlets were saying we are going to make a pivot to video. A pivot if it is a wholesale change were you shift all of your marketing dollars into a different type of entity before you have really tested it, that is dengerious. You can’t, you know, that’s just not I would consider that fairly reckless especially to be doing it because Facebook seems to have sucess with it. I believe those marketing dollars should spend a little bit more conservatively and there should be some effectiveness measured before throwing out the baby with throw bathwater right?


Stefanie LaHart: Sharon Noot that is why we have you here because you have to remind us of these tradtional longstanding (inaudible21:17) that actually work and are actually quantifiable and measureable.


Sharon Noot: You make me feel so old.


Stefanie LaHart: I didn’t say you were old, I said that understood, how trididtional media works and that is important because  you do have people like me that are shiny social people and we see stuff, we are like . that is realy greatwe should do that and like I said you teach me stuff all that time, just about how media was donr before… I forget you know, you remember I have a degree in journalism it’s not like I am coming from a strange background that I wouldn’t this thing but I do get sucked into the shiny social media machine all the time and you know, it is a good reminder, so you call yourself old, I called you informed, how about that?


Sharon Noot: Well next time we will talk about hyrogliphics and P.R.


Stefanie LaHart: Can we talk about the dirty graphite, in ancent Rome too?


Sharon Noot: I don’t know anything about that.


Stefanie LaHart: No because youknow that, there was graphtie like all over Rome, like political graphity and sytier and cartoons and stuff like that and people always think when they see lik ancent cities, that everybody walked around in there beautiful  prestine white toga, with these beautiful walls, it was a city, it was New York. They should make that show, I think they tried to, a couple of years ago, I think it was called Rome. But, yes graphity as always been around, but more in a political way.


Sharon Noot: Graphity and P.R. are a whole different… I am sure there has been a thysis on it, but we well just talk about the olden days the fax machines and the modem, the 1200 bot modem and how that changed our lives. 


Stefanie LaHart: You know what? I just got back from Defcon and they actually did a whole presentation about how the security flaws in faxes and mail why it is so bad. I’ll have to send you the link, it was facinating because guess what? I still have a fax machine, I haven’t used it in a long time but I didn’t know that there were all these problems with security in them, so…


Sharon Noot: What about the security flaws of email, what about the security flaws…


Stefanie LaHart: Yes be we already know that we accept that now. We (crosstalk 23:36-23:338) I think in a lot of ways we accepted we are going to be hacked and you know, right, part of life. So this has been awesome and I learn a ton from you, as usual, I hope you learn something from me other than you still don’t want to be on social media. But you asked me earlier in the show, because I mentioned last time, that I was going to start doing live video, during our podcast and I was going to put it up on You Tube and that I will show me at my desk and then I will just show a head shot of you or of your dog lola. Cute little Lola and I would simply you know just be doing a video and you asked me why I would want to do that and here’s why? 


Sharon Noot: I’m not going to pivot. 


Stefanie LaHart: No you don’t have to, but in trying to build our podcast listenership, one of the ways that we’re seeing people really pick up podcast listeners believe it or not is because they’re putting some kind of video content out there. Because people are voyeurs, they just want to see what other people are doing while they’re doing something else, so I’m just sitting at my desk having a conversation with you nothing exciting but other podcasters are seeing guess what people are signing me through video and then they’re converting over to being a podcast listener. So that was why I suggested that, not because like why would somebody watch a video it’s just simply a way of getting people interested in you or finding people on other platforms. 


Sharon Noot: I hope you’re going to have scrolling text to go with it because the words are going to be important. 


Stefanie LaHart: Yes but I told you but what else did I tell you, I started rethinking if I was going to do video because then I looked around my office and I’m like do I want to show a camera, on this hot mess that is my desk? No, not really. 


Sharon Noot: Yes it’s a whole thing. It is a whole production and here you are you’re going to be spending money, you’re going to be doing all these things and I’m thinking about the podcasts that I listen to and some of them do have video but I I listen to podcasts in my car, like I’m not going to be watching the video. Why would I watch… when I go


Stefanie LaHart: No but they’re not doing it so you watch the video, lke I said, they’re doing video in order to draw people that aren’t aware of their podcast into the podcast. 


Sharon Noot: Well good luck being searchable on youtube for that. That’s you. 


Stefanie LaHart: It’s all about the hashtags sister and the titles and tags and things like that, but no I mean it’s actually been working for some people and also, some people are sitting there in an office job and they’re bored and they’re like I just want to watch another human being and they’ll just sit there have a headset but you know a video running in the background audio is not even on because it’s interesting to see other people in work, like people that you don’t work with, but again I have to really think about what I’m going to show you because you know I do my own You Tube channel but I have my own little set that I use for that. so I don’t know, I’ll let you know. 


Sharon Noot: You’re a natural on camera, you are dynamic, and you’re energetic and you love public speaking. I’m a P.R. professional, we’re used to being on the other side of the camera standing with the producer watching the shot, we don’t we don’t get on camera and we’re not taking the spotlight that’s your job. 


Stefanie LaHart: But I’m telling you, Sharon Noot.


Sharon Noot: But I would say. 


Stefanie LaHart: Listen do you know why people would watch a video? If we did a shot of me sitting at my desk just doing my blah blah blah and then your camera was just focused on your animals like whatever they were doing, your little minajury of animals over there whichever way you want to show, obviously not the sugar gliders because they’re sleeping but whatever animals up during the day, and people would watch it, like I’d (inaudible 27:14) hugely popular, and then you know what would happen in the comments, everybody would be common and all your pets and nobody would be talking about me. 


Sharon Noot: Well there you go. 


Stefanie LaHart: So I can put a camera on Lacey but you know she just lays around so I don’t know how exciting she’s going to be. She’s a Panda cam, where she never moves. 


Sharon Noot: You can get some interesting video of her when she’s having one of her moments. 


Stefanie LaHart: Well it might be more exciting because guess what I got in the mail today? 


Sharon Noot: The thunder (inaudible27:45)


Stefanie LaHart: No, I got her wheelchair. 


Sharon Noot: Oh the wheelchair.


Stefanie LaHart: After we hang up on actually going to start putting that together and I was telling my neighbor about it and she hears of her wheelchair and she’s thinking Lacey is going to be sitting up in the wheelchair like a person, I don’t know it’s like a harness that attaches wheel to her back legs, she’s still walking like a dog.


Sharon Noot: You’re going to have Lacey cam, you have to actually mount… 


Stefanie LaHart: Totally, listen if I can get this thing set up on her and she actually starts walking I will get a Go Pro I will. 


Sharon Noot: She’s going to be like a brand new dog


Stefanie LaHart: I hope so


Sharon Noot: When she realized that she can actually walk again. 


Stefanie LaHart: But I just have to put the wheelchair together.


Sharon Noot: Good luck with that. 


Stefanie LaHart: I have those feelings that parents have on Christmas Eve when it’s like midnight and they finally decide to put the toys together and they look at the box and think this has way more parts than I thought it did. 


Sharon Noot: Well I hope it works out, you have to let me know how it goes, I’m excited for Lacey. 


Stefanie LaHart: I’m excited for her too because she’s a super social dog and she needs to be out, so I’ll let you know how that goes on our next show because our new schedule is we are recording and then immediately it’s going live so, we’ll see how that works. 


Sharon Noot: Perfect


Stefanie LaHart: I’m going to go put this wheelchair together we’re done right? 


Sharon Noot: We’re done have fun with that we’ll send me some a video of that. 


Stefanie LaHart: I heard sarcasm in that, I’m hanging up on you goodbye we are done, and we will see you all next time if you have ideas for show topics that you’d like to hear us talking about please just leave them in the comments and we’ll see what we can do about that.


Thank you for listening to the Tradigital podcast. You want to hear more? Please join our mailing list at tradigital podcast.com   


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