Maybe Don’t “Pivot To Video” Unless You Want To Pivot To Food Video

An analysis of 100 million videos on Facebook is another reminder that video won’t save your news media company.

Maybe Don’t “Pivot To Video” Unless You Want To Pivot To Food Video
[Photo: Flickr user Salvatore Gerace]

Despite the fervent call for all media companies to double down on video, what news organizations expect from the medium may not jibe with what people are actually watching.


For instance, a new report from social analytics company BuzzSumo analyzed 100 million Facebook videos to see what worked the best, and the results weren’t terribly surprising. One big takeaway: The kind of content people prefer to view on Facebook is more on the–how do you say–consumable side: food videos were far and away the most interacted with videos on the site. Coming in 2nd and 3rd were “fashion & beauty” and “animals (pets)” respectively. 

Again, this shouldn’t be that surprising! People like to watch easy things—I personally LOVE food videos; the more basic the better!—even if I’m still a proud grown-up and professional journalist.

This should, however, be a warning to the Facebook-first media companies that are trying to bend to the whims of the platform. Namely, ones like Mic and Vocativ which have laid off staff as they “pivot to video.” The idea is that more people–and therefore, more advertisers–are interacting with video content on Facebook compared to other posts, and if only they could nail video, they could crack a central quandary for media companies trying to earn money or at least stay alive. 

This is true! (Maybe.) But these numbers show that most video subjects (with the exception of things like a shocking look at a racist, violent rally) just don’t do as well as an easy-to-watch how-to on crème brûlée. 

“It’s not just how to make the recipe, how to chop the onion,” Ashley McCollum, GM of BuzzFeed’s Tasty channel, said at last year’s Fast Company Innovation Festival. “It gives you a reason to reach out to your friend. It allows you to connect with another person.” Indeed: McCollum showed one video from the wildly popular two-year-old channel—quick recipes for four kinds of sliders—that at the time had racked up 147 million views and 4 million shares.


But remember: the moment Facebook changes it algorithm to favor the next trend in media for online content, all this video work could be for naught. And another reminder to editors and publishers considering what people on Facebook actually like to gorge on: just as we’ve been warned that delicious-looking things aren’t always the healthiest, food content is still not the same thing as news.

Unless, of course, we’re talking about food news. And I suppose, FastCoFood does have a nice ring to it.

You can read the full BuzzSumo report here.

Read moreHere’s Why Newspapers Are Banding Together To Fight Google And Facebook

About the author

Cale is a Brooklyn-based reporter. He writes about business, technology, leadership, and anything else that piques his interest.