Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) YouTube announced Monday that it has received 1 billion views of ice bucket challenge videos. That's bigger than the Harlem Shake meme that spread around the video platform in 2013.
You know what it's not bigger than? Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). The social network announced on Sunday that its ice bucket challenge videos had been viewed more than 10 billion times.
Facebook is in the early stages of increasing its presence as a video sharing platform -- a domain YouTube has dominated since its inception. In one month, the Ice Bucket Challenge -- a fundraiser that's raised more than $110 million for the ALS Association -- has shown that Facebook is capable of taking on YouTube as a platform for user-generated video.
Where Facebook is beating YouTube
Earlier this year, Facebook began rolling out video advertisements to select brands while introducing users to autoplay videos in their Newsfeeds. Autoplay turned out to be a boon for the Ice Bucket Challenge because users saw their friends in a video getting ice water dumped on their heads, and wanted to find out what was going on.
The update to showcase video has led to wider adoption, too. The New York Times reported Monday that Beyonce's management company now uses Facebook as its primary platform to communicate with fans, which includes uploading videos. Last Friday, it uploaded a video of some behind-the-scenes footage of Beyonce's MTV VMA performance, and saw 2.4 million views within the first four hours on Facebook. The same video on YouTube saw just a few thousands hits in the same period, according to The New York Times.
The difference is atrributable to the key advantage Facebook has over Google as a video platform -- sharing is built into the platform. Clicking "share" or "like" automatically makes the video pop up in more users' Newsfeeds. While YouTube makes it pretty easy to share videos on Facebook or almost any other social network, it can't match the one click it takes on Facebook.
Additionally, Facebook has the advantage of dominating people's time on the Internet. And more often than not, people on Facebook are looking to consume content (or share content with friends). This makes Facebook a natural platform for announcing new content. YouTube will send out notifications to a channel's subscribers, just as Facebook puts a video in people's Newsfeed, but more people spend more time on Facebook compared to YouTube.
Where Facebook can (and will) improve
Facebook is still in the early stages of video. Facebook's Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, told The New York Times that it needs to do a better job of informing average users how to shoot great video with their smartphones, and showing professional creators how to use the social network to amplify their audience (like Queen B did last week).
On the first point, Facebook recently released a new app, Hyperlapse, which makes creating great video content easy for even the most inexperienced videographer. The app uses your smartphone's gyroscope to stabilize the video, and enables users to speed up the video playback speed (time-lapse). The app encourages users to upload their videos to Facebook or Instagram in order to share their creations.
In order to get more professional creators, Facebook has a lot more work to do. The first is to get more cases like Beyonce's video from last week. BuzzFeed has had a lot of success with native Facebook videos, too. Facebook needs to use these as prime examples and reach out to more big-name content creators.
One feature that could help improve Facebook's adoption among professionals is the ability to embed videos on other websites -- something Cox mentioned in his interview with The New York Times. YouTube's embed functionality makes it the platform of choice for web publishers looking to add video to their own website. If Facebook implements that feature, it could see wider adoption from publishers that also have a strong presence on Facebook considering the added benefits of uploading directly to Facebook.
But the biggest thing Facebook needs to attract professional content creators is a means to share revenue with publishers. YouTube's Partner Program has over 1 million creators earning money off their uploads. Facebook doesn't currently have anything to offer in return for furnishing its site with content.
The Ice Bucket Challenge introduced millions of users to creating content and uploading it to Facebook. Now, the social network is working quickly to capitalize on that momentum with the release of Hyperlapse.
With more native videos, Facebook is able to increase engagement within Facebook -- providing more opportunities for advertisements. It also means users may be more apt to watch native video advertisements, which the company is slowly rolling out.
Attracting more professionals, however, will be key for Facebook to rival YouTube. Integrating pre-roll advertisements into professional videos, and sharing that revenue, is the next step Facebook needs to take.
Adam Levy has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Facebook, Google (A shares), and Google (C shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook, Google (A shares), and Google (C shares). Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.