The question is, can you actually compare all those video views? And, yes, there is a difference between how video views are measured on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

Someone asked me this week why her LinkedIn video was so bad. The post with the video appeared to be a failure, as the views were far less than her other posts. It demotivated. Why was that video so bad? Not much, in fact. Given the comments and likes, the video did quite well. However, LinkedIn only shows the number of times a video has been viewed for 3 seconds or more. Not how many times the post was seen.

What is social video success?

We want to know what works, so we can track our social media posts. But ‘works’ is subjective. You’ve done well if few people watch your video but many of those who do buy your product. You may gain thousands of new followers if your Instagram goes viral. Having hundreds of TikTok followers from a viral TikTok isn’t worth much because users mostly see content from accounts they don’t follow.

It’s complicated.

Regardless, it’s critical to monitor your video stats. Neither is better if you never look. But what are you seeing? Not all video views are created equal. I think social media stats are tricky. People cling to them as if they were gospel. In reality, there is only one truth (and not always as precise as you think). A good example is video views.

Of course, you need to understand how video views are calculated if you want to evaluate your video on social media. Your comparisons may be off. So a video may appear to be successful on one platform but not on another. It’s impossible to compare video messages with non-video messages or the same video on different channels

This is partly because different social media apps count a video’s “display.” However, some social media networks for video posts do not show the difference between the number of video views and the number of times a message has appeared on the screen – the ‘normal’ views.

Differ between views, impressions, video views, and unique views.


  • A post is ‘viewed’ if it appears in a user’s timeline on a social media platform where you can share things other than videos. It doesn’t consider how long it’s been visible.
  • Views and impressions are two terms used to describe how many times a post (video or not) has been seen in the feed.
  • The other intriguing and perplexing number is reach. There is a distinction between ‘views’ (how long the post was visible in the feed) and’reach’ or ‘unique views’ (how many people or accounts saw the post). Views often outnumber reach because people often view a post more than once.
  • Also, how long people watch your non-video message matters. The faster people “skip” a message, the worse it is. And the longer they stay, the better. But the number of ‘views’ is irrelevant.

You also have video statistics figures. You also want to know if your message is effective:

  1. How many people did my video message reach?
  2. Do you know how many people I reached without watching the video?
  3. How many people saw it?
  4. How many times has the video been watched?
  5. How many people watched it?
  6. How many responses?
  7. Sadly, not every social media platform provides those stats.
  8. How do social media video views work?


Views can be measured in two ways:

  1. A video is ‘watched’ when it appears in full or in part on the screen.
  2. Watched videos are those that have been played for a certain amount of time or have been acted upon, such as a click.

Each social media app makes different choices. The difference is in how a social media app thinks about statistics and algorithms. Maybe the videos are so long that a 3 second playback time, like on YouTube, makes them hard to compare. If videos play automatically, you can’t tell if people really like something until after they’ve watched it for a while. What if?

In fact, some social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram) only count a video display if it lasts longer than 3 seconds. On Twitter, for example, people look at 2 second clicks and views. On other platforms, the mere presence of your video is sufficient (TikTok).

YT uses a 30 second cut-off However, Snapchat counts video snaps as soon as they appear on screen, even if they are brief. We think TikTok is similar to Instagram Reels.

Instagram distinguishes between ‘normal’ videos in the feed (3 seconds) and Reels and Stories. Like stories, reels count as a display or impression as soon as they appear, without the 3 second threshold. It’s unclear what a ‘view’ is for Instagram video stories or if they are distinct from other stories.

See also recode on how video snaps are measured and how facebook video views are measured. TikTok also keeps it vague.

In Snapchat Insights, you can see both the total number of unique views and the total time spent on your story. That suggests that even brief views matter.

Apps that count video views differently

Other obvious differences in video counting include:

  • How much video is in the picture?
  • Whether the video plays automatically or requires a click
  • Or they click on the video to make it full screen.

The rule about how much of the video must be visible before the counter starts is important, especially on platforms that autoplay. Is it really a “view” if people don’t even see the whole video and don’t choose to play it?

There seem to be agreements, but I’m not sure if everyone follows through. I know Facebook got into trouble in 2018 because regular messages were counted but not shown on the screen as soon as they were set up for a user. That was later changed.

In the end, everything must be taken with a grain of salt. The numbers you see are only one version of reality, which you will never fully comprehend. It’s more of a common thread that can tell you about your success rate over time. Instagram counts ‘video views’ for posts that are 3 seconds or longer. Thankfully, Instagram lets you see how many accounts you’ve reached overall.

In the message below, you can see that my Instagram video has 218 “views” but 603 “reach” accounts. We don’t know how many people watched because that 218 probably includes repeat viewers.

Instagram Video Views and Post Reach

LinkedIn counts video views.

It’s even harder on LinkedIn because you don’t expect a video in a message ( native , i.e. you upload the video to LinkedIn instead of posting a link to YouTube, for example). range.

LinkedIn only shows video views longer than 3 seconds. Other messages show how many unique people have received your message:


If you only look at ‘views’, you can’t compare the success of different types of posts. It doesn’t matter, but don’t panic if your video message on LinkedIn has a lower reach than usual. ‘Video views over 3 seconds’, not ‘range’. Also, articles and newsletters on LinkedIn only count if people click on the link to the article. A text message, or a video message, shows how many people you have reached.

What is Facebook’s video count?

In fact, Facebook has the best video stats. Facebook has been heavily investing in video for years. For Facebook, people and businesses should simply make more and longer videos (whether that makes sense or not).

The benefit for creators is that they get a lot of data. A total number of people reached and 3 second video views will be shown. Which, for my tiny, inactive page, is quite low.


In this case, my message reached 77 people, and my video was viewed 31 times for more than 3 seconds. But we don’t know if that’s 4 or 30 people.

What is Twitter’s video count?

Thanks to Twitter’s transparency, we know how to count videos for video ads:

A video view is when someone watches your video for 2 seconds or more in 50% view or clicks to expand/unmute it. A 3s/100% view occurs when someone watches your video for 3 seconds or more, or when it is expanded or unmuted. A 6s view is when your video is expanded or unmuted for 6 seconds or more. Source Sadly, it’s unclear how it works for unpaid tweets. Tweeting a video to Twitter shows both the video’s views and total reach:


Twitter defines video views as “number of clicks on any video in this tweet.” Because this is not a paid tweet, this is all you will get. But I’m assuming they either watched for 2 seconds or clicked on it in that time. Something like that…??

In any case, Twitter appears to count video views differently than other apps. Never be fooled by statistics if you’ve tweeted or posted your video elsewhere. It’s difficult to compare.

YouTube stats

It’s obvious that YouTube has insane stats, and it does. Views and impressions are listed here, as well as the difference between those who viewed and those who actually ‘watched’ your video.


YouTube is known for its 30 second view threshold. For YouTube shorts, a click or swipe suffices for a view. But I couldn’t find any proof.

Video views are like apples and oranges.

Conclusion: comparing platforms is difficult. Not to mention whether a video view counts before the entire video is visible on the screen, depending on whether it is viewed on a computer or a mobile app.

All those different ways of calculating may not be a bad thing. Posting the same video in the same size on multiple platforms is also useless. No matter how many times we do it, we all know that a video’s impact is limited if it is not optimized for a platform.

Focus on the platform where you’re most active with video, then track the stats of all your videos over time. This is how apples are compared. And you can learn a lot.

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