How to Navigate Between YouTube and Facebook Watch as a Video Content Creator

Yes, it’s a pain to distribute to both, but it's worth it

There are pros and cons to each platform. YouTube, Facebook

YouTube and Facebook Watch compete head-on. They compete for eyeballs and market share. But they also compete for talent—in the content creators producing videos for each platform. The problem is that they don’t play nicely together.

Facebook’s algorithm actively de-emphasizes any YouTube links to their content shared on Facebook. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean content creators get to pick or choose. It’s not one vs. the other. Yes, it’s a pain to export and distribute both. Yes, it adds a few extra steps. But spoiler alert: it’s still worth it.

Here’s why:

YouTube is expanding into your home

YouTube’s online reach is already second to none (well, besides Google). It’s been the second largest search engine for years, and that doesn’t look like it’s changing anytime soon, either. It’s not just that online viewership is growing, though. YouTube is also aggressively expanding into Smart TV placements across the country, and will soon reach 98 percent of U.S. households according to USA Today.

This all goes beyond simple apps. YouTube TV is morphing into a legitimate cable alternative that now offers access to major networks like NBC or ABC, along with sports-specific ones like ESPN.

YouTube viewers are trending younger than Facebook

Facebook may have started with college students before expanding into every demographic imaginable, but over the last decade, the demographics have almost flipped to the complete opposite.

A recent study from Visual Objects reports that Gen Z—which includes everyone born in the mid-1990s to the early 2000s—spend more time on YouTube.

Facebook videos are your best chance left for ‘free’ distribution

Two huge trends have happened on Facebook over the past few years. Its advertising revenue has shot up, while organic reach (the ability to reach your own fans for free with promotional content) has dropped to around 2 percent on average. I’m not a betting man. But I’d guess that’s no coincidence.

The end result is that companies often have to pay to reach their own fans. And the same trends are playing out on Instagram, too. Thankfully, marketers and advertisers still have one silver bullet left: video. The catch is that it has to be native videos on Facebook directly. Sharing video content hosted elsewhere, like YouTube videos, won’t give you the same bump in reach or engagement.

Facebook is putting its money where its mouth is

Facebook publicly committed a billion dollars in new shows for its Watch streaming tab. User adoption has been slow so far. But that still doesn’t deter the possibilities, with EMarketer forecasting Facebook’s video ad sales to nearly double YouTube’s.

Today, Facebook Watch is still a tiny slice of overall ad revenue. But the trends are as bright as day: digital content consumption is going to video, where Facebook is patiently waiting to snap up the best producers with a small war chest.

But in the face of competition, YouTube is expanding monetization options

Facebook has matched YouTube’s 55 percent cut of ad revenue to content creators. It’s a bold move, as there have been some issues with YouTube revenue declines.

But YouTube has stepped up its game recently with some new Patreon-esque monetization options, including monthly subscription options, swag and “Premieres.” This last option is the most interesting. It allows you to spin up recorded videos on a landing page, with the ability to unlock a date and time for people to see it. In other words, it’s building in urgency just like offline advertisers do on TV, or online marketers do with on-demand webinars.


Both YouTube and Facebook Watch have a place in marketer’s playbooks. It adds some logistical complexity and added distribution headaches.

However, the market opportunities for both are big enough to warrant it. The trick is to recognize the role each plays for different consumers, and where they’re going over the next few years, to figure out how to position your video content strategy over the next week and month.

Neil Patel is co-founder of Neil Patel Digital.