How to Understand the Difference Between YouTube, Instagram and Facebook Video


YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are three of the most popular and visually-orientated online platforms – perfect for the video you’re about to share! But hold on, they’re not as alike as they seem!

Yes, they are social sharing platforms, but they differ in content, content delivery, audience and sharing options.

Below we outline the various tips to bear in mind when considering publishing video on these popular platforms. 


If you were to report your last weekend’s events to your best friend and your boss, would you tell them the same version of the story?

Similarly, different social media have different audiences and content your video should be optimised for. Your goal in relation to Facebook and Instagram is to stop people from scrolling their feeds and watching your video. Whereas when it comes to YouTube, a platform based on searches, users are often looking for a wider range of content such as music, tutorials, DIY hacks or information. So while Facebook and Instagram require more visually stunning and attention-grabbing video content, with YouTube videos can be more informative rather than stylised. 


In terms of duration, the snappiness of video is much more important on Facebook where users tend to move to the next post in their feed quickly. According to eMarketer, the videos that fared best on Facebook in 2016 (were watched right to the end) were those between 30 - 60 seconds long.

Instagram, which is more focused on images and videos than written content, originally only allowed for 15-second long videos, but last year finally introduced 60-second videos. It’s important to remember with Instagram that video will play silently in a user's feed meaning openings and intros should be visually grabbing rather than relying on sound.

When it comes to YouTube, you’ve got a little more leeway. When you join YouTube all your videos will be capped at 15 min, however, the average length of online video in 2016 was 4 minutes   (remember these are YouTube videos and not YouTube ads which are much shorter). So it’s unlikely you’ll need to go over this if you plan your video content correctly. Viewers of your YouTube generally land on your video as a consequence of their interest (via search or suggestion), so if your content gives them what they are looking for, they are likely to stick around!

Aspect and Ratios

Regarding design and ratios, you can customise and crop your videos in post-production, but if you are planning on targeting just one platform or if you’re having different cuts of the same video for different social channels, then you might want to plan your shots to fit each of them at best.

Instagram works with a square format so the best ratio for an Instagram video is 1:1 (though you can use a wider video format too). On Facebook, both portrait and landscape orientation are used, landscape orientation is advised, still depending on your target device view. YouTube hosts horizontal and widescreen videos best.

Vidyard lists a full breakdown of recommended technical requirements for each of the three platforms:


  • Caption length text: Text only, max 2,200 characters

  • Recommended Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1 / 16:9 / HDTV, 2:39:1 or 2:40:1 / Widescreen / 9:16, 1:1 / 1.33:1 / 4:3 / SDTV, 1.375:1 / film, 1.85:1 / Film, no pillar boxing or letterboxing

  • Length: 120 minutes max

  • Minimum resolution: minimum width 600 pixels, length dependent on the video aspect ratio

  • File Size: Up to 4GB max

  • Frames: 30fps max


  • YouTube uses 16:9 aspect ratio players. If you’re uploading a non-16:9 file, it will be processed and displayed correctly as well, with pillar boxes (black bars on the left and right) or letter boxes (black bars at the top and bottom) provided by the player.

  • Content should be encoded and uploaded in the same frame rate it was recorded. Common frame rates include: 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, 60 frames per second (other frame rates are also acceptable).


  • Aspect Ratio: 1:1

  • Video: H.264 video compression, high profile preferred, square pixels, fixed frame rate, progressive scan

  • Caption: Text only, 125 characters recommended

  • Caption length text: 2,200 characters Max

  • Video aspect ratio: Landscape (1.91:1), Square (1:1), Vertical (4:5)

  • Minimum resolution: 600 x 315 pixels (1.91:1 landscape) / 600 x 600 pixels (1:1 square) / 600 x 750 pixels (4:5 vertical)

  • Minimum length: No minimum

  • Maximum length: 60 seconds

  • Maximum size: 4GB

  • Frame rate: 30fps max

Now you understand a bit more about what type of video you need for each of the major video-sharing platforms – it’s time to crack into your video marketing strategy.

For more info on what Together Video can do for you, give us a call at 01 681 4440 or email