Our pastor today was talking about Facebook Live and all the weekly views. I know from creating and running church websites that 50 views of a church YouTube video is pretty good. Even several years later. When my pastor at our 250-people-a-week church said our Facebook Live videos get 200+ hits per week, I had to find out if that meant as much as he seemed to think. Unfortunately, it didn't. Facebook Live hits are counted differently than YouTube, so the numbers don't line up. But they sure can lie.

Basically, YouTube counts views as someone clicking to play your video for at least 30 seconds, give or take. The important part here is that someone is making the decision to watch and not escaping as soon as he or she finds the X on the screen. Your Youtube videos are not auto-playing on your website or on Youtube, and if they were, that would be annoying, like Facebook Live videos.

Facebook Live counts a hit as someone watching for a short time, like three or five seconds. That’s just long enough for most of us to find the stop or x button. Some people DO watch Facebook Live videos all the way through, or at least for 30 seconds, but not nearly as much as people who have auto-play turned on their devices (I think it’s by default).

Based on the article I read, you can safely divide your Facebook Live video count by five to see a more accurate representation of who’s really watching your sermons. You’d have to do some real analysis to find out more details than that. I’m not saying Youtube is better than Facebook, but Facebook seems to be pretending it gets you more legitimate hits than Youtube does. That’s probably because Facebook is trying to establish itself as THE place to watch these kinds of videos, while Youtube is busy trying to avoid paying anyone for hosting videos through its advertising program. Because the two entities have differing goals, they use data to extract what they want you to see.

Basically, don’t get too dejected by your low hit count on Youtube or too excited about your awesome numbers on Facebook. The real test is whether or not you can get someone to actually show up to your church for service, not how many hits you can get on social media websites. Of course, it helps to have a decent website, and that’s where we can be of service.