What Counts as a View on Different Social Media Sites?

08/02/24         Author: Florencia Corazza         13 min reading

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Videos have revolutionized the way consumers and brands interact. This format is entertaining and easy to understand, so businesses are regularly sharing video marketing content—everything from testimonials to animated explainer videos—in an attempt to appeal to their audience and leave positive impressions. However, not all of them understand whether they’re doing it the right way, and that’s because they don’t know what counts as a view.

I understand that, to avoid bots and fake views that don’t reflect the public’s real interests, each social media platform has established its own specific criteria regarding when or how visualizations are counted. So, to make things a bit easier for you, I’ve put together this article in which I’ll help you understand how YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram views work. Ready to start making the most out of your data?


1. Why Are Views on YouTube Important?

We all love it when one of our videos goes viral and starts gaining a lot of views. But have you ever wondered why these are so important to your channel’s growth? Well, the platform’s algorithm recommends popular videos to other users, so a high number of visualizations can help your content reach a wider audience.

Additionally, they have an impact on YouTube SEO, helping your pieces rank better on SERPs. So, as you can see, they are pretty important. Now, let’s go over everything you need to know about what counts as a view!

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1.1. What Counts as a View on YouTube?

Each time a user plays a YouTube video and watches it for at least 30 seconds, a view is added to the count. You may think that 30 seconds isn’t that long but don’t relax just yet.

Video marketing statistics show that 20% of your viewers will abandon a video within the first 10 seconds. This means that when you hit the 30-second mark, 33% of your audience will already be gone. So, if you don’t see your visualizations growing, maybe you need to come up with a stronger hook for your animated ads or make those training videos a bit more interesting from the get-go!


1.2. Does Rewatching a YouTube Video Count as a View?

The easy answer is yes. Rewatching a video counts as a view in terms of YouTube stats. However, refreshing your page over and over again to accumulate them will be detected by YouTube, and it can result in ugly penalizations. That’s because they consider that you’re trying to artificially inflate the video’s popularity.

These actions are punishable according to current YouTube guidelines. They’ll delete all the views that they don’t consider organic—and sometimes, they even delete some genuine interactions from your community just to be safe.


1.3. Does It Count as a View if I Watch My Own Video?

I have some good news for you! If you upload a cool product video to your video agency’s YouTube channel and hit play, it will count as a view! You can also rewatch your own videos and that will add to the count as well. Just keep in mind what I said in the previous question, and be careful!


1.4. If My Video Is Hosted on Another Website, Does It Count as a View?

If you embed a YouTube video on your website, whenever someone watches at least 30 seconds of it, a view will be added to the count. The same happens if it’s hosted or shared on other social media platforms, like Facebook.

However, this rule has certain limitations. Some channels have complained that they weren’t getting views because the video was embedded without using the original “sharing” code provided by the platform. Additionally, the platform filters visualizations from low-quality users, such as machines or proxies, because YouTube is ruthless when it comes to bot views.


1.5. How to Accurately Measure YouTube Views?

Since YouTube has specific guidelines for what counts as a view and what doesn’t, it takes the plarform some time to make sure yours comes from real humans and not machines. In fact, the view count can take up to two days to be updated!

You can still see real-time—although not that accurate—analytics on YouTube Studio. In your analytics section, choose a video and go to the ‘Real Time’ section. There, click on ‘See More’—also a great way to review how your YouTube content ideas are panning out!.

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2. Why Are Views on Facebook Important?

Besides helping you play the algorithm to your favor, visualizations on Facebook allow you to understand whether users enjoyed that whiteboard animation you made (enough to stay and pay attention until the end!). In my opinion, it’s a valuable metric to compare to others. For example, if your videos tend to have a big reach but few views, maybe they aren’t catching your customers’ attention.

To avoid that, you need to understand the ‘Facebook video view count’ metric. Let’s go over the specific criteria you need to be aware of!


2.1. What Counts as a View on Facebook?

On Facebook, users have to watch for at least 3 seconds for it to add to the count. On the other side, for Reels, the rules are a bit different. The moment your video starts to play after an impression is made, a view is counted—that’s after just one millisecond!


2.2. Does One User’s Multiple Views on Facebook Count?

It’s true that rewatching a Facebook video doesn’t count as a view. On the other hand, replays on Reels are counted.

Considering that reels start replaying automatically—and that the second it starts playing, a view is added to the count—you can probably understand why vertical videos tend to have more visualizations and, consequentially, more exposure on the platform.


2.3. Is It Considered a View When You Scroll Past a Facebook Video?

What counts as a view in these cases depends on some specific factors. If the user is watching the video from their desktop, then the piece has to be fully on-screen before it starts playing to add a view. 

On mobile, if at least 50% of the video appears on screen, the visualization will count—a feature that pairs really well with promotional video content. After all, many of us scroll down when watching a video to read the description text below or check the comments.


2.4. How Does Facebook Filter Bot Views?

The bot problem on Facebook has gotten so big that, in 2022, 5,800 billion fake accounts were removed—half of the world’s population! So now, their system uses an algorithm to spot and reject any duplicate views and screen out fraudulent impressions. 

To do so, the algorithm checks users’ IP address, browser type, cookies, and account behavior. Then, it compares this to how a human usually acts on the platform and filters bot views.


2.5. How Does Facebook Measure Views?

To accurately determine the number of views a video receives, Facebook takes into account various factors. These include the time duration of the video, the sound it contains, whether it was viewed on autoplay, and if it was played manually.

For example, think of a video with bad audio quality. Users will likely spend more than 3 seconds watching it because they’ll want to figure out what is being said, but that doesn’t lead to an enjoyable user experience, which will impact performance in many other ways.


3. Why Are Views on Instagram Important?

Instagram has grown into a great platform for businesses and content creators to connect with a worldwide audience with their creative, visually attractive videos. Although their parameters are very similar to Facebook, there are some unique things you need to know about Instagram video views.

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3.1. What Counts as a View on Instagram?

As you probably already know, Instagram is owned by Facebook (Meta), so it also counts visualizations after 3 seconds. For unknown reasons, though, view counts will only show up on videos uploaded after November 19, 2015. #JustMetathings.

On the other hand, different types of videos have different regulations. For example, if you run an educational video production company focusing its content strategy on uploading Stories or Lives, views are counted upon opening.


3.2. Does Rewatching an Instagram Video Count as a View?

Insta views are counted each time a video is played, so multiple views from a single user are possible. The platform has taken precautions, though, to stop users from faking view counts by watching the same piece more than once. 

Say, for example, that you upload a cool motion graphics video and watch it multiple times in a row; only the first one will count. However, you can make each one count if you give it some time between plays. That said, always keep in mind that to improve a video’s performance, things like commenting, liking, and sharing it will give you much better, organic results.

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3.3. Does It Count as a View If Someone Watches My Video From a Story?

This may sound like a silly question, but I sincerely had that doubt, too. The answer is no; having your content shared on someone’s stories can increase your reach by showing the algorithm that it’s worth it. But watching a reel within an Instagram Story does not count as a view.

To increase views, you can place a juicy hook within the first seconds that urges viewers to click on it and finish watching on your profile. It can be an open-ended question at the start of your How-to videos or simply the promise of more depth in the description of any piece of content you upload.


3.4. Is It Valid to Watch My Own Videos on Instagram to Receive Views?

Instagram excludes self-views to ensure transparency. 

This comes from the fact that many creators monetize their successful digital content strategy on the platform, so it has specific measures to verify what counts as a view, whether it’s coming from a fan who genuinely likes what you do or from a bot.

Just like Facebook, they achieve this by using machine learning. Their algorithms examine the behavior of various accounts, their activity patterns, and each post to find similarities among fake profiles—like following and unfollowing many accounts quickly.


2.5. Why Aren’t I Seeing My Views?

Do your videos lack a visualization count? There are several reasons why this can happen. First, according to Instagram, it may take some time before a view shows up. If they’re still not showing up, it may be because your video is part of a post with multiple photos, and in those cases, view counts aren’t registered. 

Moreover, Instagram only measures views from the app—if someone views IG videos from other places like an embedded post or a browser, it won’t count. Last but not least, if your account is set to private, you may not see the count until your video has reached a certain number of views.

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4. Why Are Views on TikTok Important?

This widely-known platform has been praised by marketers, animation companies, and even small businesses due to its potential to make any attractive video content go viral. The reason behind this lies in the way TikTok measures views. Understanding this is crucial to making the most of your presence on this platform.


4.1. What Counts as a View on TikTok?

On TikTok, view counts are super simple: the very second your video starts to play visualizations are added. It doesn’t matter how long people continue watching after that or whether their screen is displaying it fully.

Considering that videos play automatically on this app, you can see why many people say TikTok can give you a lot of exposure and why the platform features in most video production companies‘ marketing strategies. Do keep in mind that while this platform may offer one of the highest view rates among all social media, their requirements for what counts as a view are also lower.


4.2. Does Rewatching a TikTok Video Count as a View?

For TikTok, replaying a video or having a viewer return to watch it more than once are both considered new visualizations; it doesn’t matter if those are views from the same IP address. You could even leave a video on a loop in the background while you do something else, and views would just rack up. As you can probably guess, TikTok has few—barely any—countermeasures against fake accounts.

In fact, some analyses suggest that up to 97% of TikTok’s traffic could be detected as an automated bot. These shocking figures warn businesses and advertising companies to be wary of their numbers in this app to avoid losing lots of money and wasting their ad spend on a video marketing strategy that won’t reach their target audience.


4.3. When Does TikTok Start Paying for Views?

Upon reaching 1000 views, TikTok begins to feature its creators. The platform offers a payment of $0.02 to $0.04 for every 1,000 views for accounts associated with their Creator Fund. That’s from $20 to $40 for a million visualizations.

However, to be accepted into TikTok’s Creator Fund, you need to have at least 100,000 views in the last 30 days.


4.4. How Are Views Measured on Ads?

Now that you know what counts as a view on TikTok, you may be wondering whether the platform is even a good place to promote your brand. Well, not everything is as black and white as it might seem. To measure the effectiveness of an ad video campaign, TikTok offers a metric called “View Rate.”

This metric shows whether viewers are skipping or ignoring your TikTok ads, and it’s calculated by dividing the total number of video ad views by the total number of ad impressions. That way, you can understand the effectiveness of a campaign without worrying about hyper-swiper users, accidental views, or bots.


4.5. How to Understand Your Views on TikTok?

The best way to understand your TikTok results is to compare them with other platforms. For example, imagine you make a series of product ads that have 1,000 views on Instagram and 3,000 views on TikTok. Taking into consideration that Instagram views are at least 3 seconds, the differences in each video’s exposure aren’t that big.

Moreover, try to make your viewers engage with your brand videos and subtly drive them to the rest of your online presence. That way, you’ll know whether your audience is real or solely made by bots. As a general rule when working with social media, don’t get enchanted by big numbers. When looking for the reason why one platform is better than the other, you may realize not everything that shines is gold.


Wrapping Up

Whether you work with live-action content or dabble more in animated video production, views are a valuable metric to keep in mind that can help you increase your reach, gain visibility, and appeal to new customers. However, views aren’t the only information worth tracking. Other metrics, like the engagement your content gets via comments and likes, will also influence your videos’ rankings.

The core lesson lies in seeing the bigger picture and paying attention to all metrics to measure content effectiveness. By understanding how and why followers liked something you’ve shared, you’ll be able to keep on improving, share things that delight your customers, and boost your channel’s growth.

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Florencia Corazza

Florencia Corazza – Content Writer and Co-Editor

A skilled writer, translator, and co-editor for our web and blog content. As a self-defined "wordsmith," she’s talented in adapting the latest marketing news into all kinds of digital formats. If she’s not watching the latest Sci-Fi show on Netflix, then can find her tending to her perfectly reasonable number of plants.

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