Meta Reveals 4 Video Ranking Signals for Facebook Videos

Almost everything you see online has been carefully selected to be shown to you. From the ads you see on news articles to the promoted tweets that get shown in your feed from people you don’t follow, barely anything you see online is an accident. Meta, or more specifically Facebook, is no different. From a user perspective, this can be somewhat unnerving because it reiterates the point that wherever you go online, algorithms are watching and monitoring your behaviour to decide what to show you. From a content creation perspective, it begs the question: how does the Meta search engine work and how can I manipulate it to get more exposure? Well, Meta has finally revealed the four signals it uses to decide which videos are exposed to a vaster audience.

meta search engine - The Brains
September 23, 2022
10 mins to read
meta search engine - The Brains
YouTube brought about the rise of mainstream video content creation in terms of social media, and TikTok accelerated the shift towards video content on other social media platforms. Meta was quick to jump in and so, in recent years, there’s been an exponential growth in the amount of video content that is posted on Facebook. Video content has, for the most part, always been present on Facebook (low quality pet videos from 2010, anyone?), but historically, it was never the focus and only those who you were friends with or who liked your page could see them.

Nowadays, video has become a core component of Facebook as a whole. Paired with the increasingly sophisticated algorithms, your videos have the potential to be shown to a large chunk of Facebook’s 2.9 billion users, but it’s not quite as simple as just hitting ‘post’. In fact, Meta has finally revealed the four signals it uses to determine who it will show your video to, and that’s what we’re going to discuss today.

What is the Meta search engine/how does it work?

Facebook is a bit like Google; both rely on algorithms to determine what gets shown to users, but unlike with Google, users and creators alike are often unaware of the Meta search engine and how the algorithm works as a whole. From a consumer perspective, most people by now know that suggested posts are similar to things they’ve interacted with before, and creators know that certain types of content do better than others, but this is the extent of most people’s knowledge.

Facebook’s algorithm is advanced and uses AI and machine learning to tailor content on feeds. This, in turn, helps when building out effective social media campaigns. Over the years, the algorithm has changed massively. For example, in 2009, the algorithm was introduced and posts with the highest number of likes were sent to the top of the feed. In 2015, an algorithm change saw pages that posted a lot of ‘promotional’ content get down-ranked. In 2019, original video that sustained viewers for longer than 60 seconds was prioritised, and in 2022, where we are today, they finally expanded on their video algorithm. 

Up until now, a lot of the Facebook algorithm, especially where videos are concerned, was shrouded in secrecy, but now, we have confirmation that Facebook directly decides the extent to which your video will be shared across the platform. Some may call it gatekeeping, especially those who create what they deem to be high quality, professional videos that don’t get widely distributed, but Facebook maintains its ranking signals are there for the benefit of users and creators alike. Again, not too dissimilar from Google, specifically its Helpful Content Update.

meta search engine - The Brains

How does Facebook rank video content?

As mentioned, Meta uses AI and machine learning to determine its non-static algorithm. It’s always learning and advancing in-line with what the people at Facebook think users want to see, and this is sometimes based on data from questionable tests. For example, in 2012, Facebook removed specific words from around 70,000 unknowing users’ feeds to see whether it would change their reaction to posts.

More related to videos, Facebook was also forced to apologise after its algorithm seemingly prioritised controversial videos on the basis they got more engagement. So, with all the secret experiments and official investigations into how data is collected and used, how exactly does Facebook rank video content on a broad scale?

In broad sense, it would appear that Facebook looks at the following things when deciding how to rank video content:


  1. Originality
  2. Audience retention
  3. Audience loyalty
  4. Engagement
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What are the 4 main ranking signals?

So, let’s look at the four main ranking signals in more detail. The better you understand how Facebook is going to be looking at your content, the more you can tailor it to work in the algorithm’s favour. 

  • Originality 

Much like Google, Facebook likes original content, and this is one of the top ranking factors that the algorithm looks at when deciding how far to share your video. Absolutely, 100% original videos will always take precedence, but there is room for those who like to add commentary or something ‘meaningingful’ to an existing video.

Essentially, if you post content that you didn’t create and add nothing commendable to it, you’ll lose brownie points. If you upload original content or repost someone else’s content and add to the discussion, you’ll be favoured by the algorithm. 

  • Audience retention 

The goal of every social media site (except BeReal) is to keep you on there for as long as possible and make sure you keep coming back. There’s some deep psychological tactics that are used in order to do this (think: relaxing colours, endless scrolling feeds that make you feel like you’re stuck in a time warp, and mini dopamine hits from the validation of others through likes, etc.). In a nutshell, Facebook wants your videos to add to this addictiveness, and that’s why videos that manage to keep viewers watching for 60 seconds or more will be rewarded. 

For extra brownie points, try and create compelling content that keeps people watching for three minutes or more. To do this, Meta has said creators might want to invest in higher production and better storylines for their videos. Also, making your videos viewable on the go – such as by including captions so people don’t have to click on it to hear what’s going on – is another rewardable tactic.

  • Audience loyalty 

Audience loyalty is similar to customer loyalty; you want people to keep coming back to you. Social media is flooded with creators which means getting people to subscribe to your content over other people’s is far from easy, but if you create high-quality, engaging, original content, there’s a good chance people will come back. 

Facebook looks out for how many people search for your profile or come back to watch your videos and ranks you accordingly.

  • Engagement 

Although the algorithm is dominated by computers and AI, social media is inherently still human, and part of the reason it’s so addictive is due to the engagement you’re able to have on there. Ideally, you want people to share, like, and comment on your videos. If they do, Facebook will distribute your content to a wider audience.

Do be aware, though, that underhand tactics like only posting controversial content (as mentioned before) likely won’t work in your favour.

Final thoughts

Facebook and the wider Meta brand aren’t too public about their algorithms, but by revealing the above four markers for content distribution, they’ve enabled creators to treat videos a bit like SEO, and this bodes in your favour where social media marketing is concerned.

That being said, social media marketing as a whole can certainly be tricky to master. If you’re looking to get your presence known on social media, we can help. Talk to us today to find out more.

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