Why do Videos Look Bad on Facebook?

Why do videos look bad on Facebook, to begin with? It's all about compression, but let's look more into ways to improve Facebook video quality.

So you upload your crystal clear, beautiful videos to Facebook… and they look like garbage compared to what they look like on your phone or your desktop. Frustrating, right?

Videos Look Bad or Blurry on Facebook

Cameras are pretty amazing these days. The quality is sharp, they're affordable, and most of us have an Ultra High Definition video camera in our pocket. It's not hard to create a great-looking, high-quality video that our friends and family, or Facebook fans will love to watch.

But uploading your video to Facebook isn't always what you were hoping it would be. Sometimes the video looks bad on Facebook, or blurry, pixellated, or fuzzy.

Compression Causes Videos to Look “Bad”

The first thing you should know is that when you upload a video anywhere, to Facebook, YouTube, where ever, the platform you upload to has to compress the video to save space on their own servers. That's just the way the Internet works.

We'll talk more about that compression in just a second but there are three important things I want you to look at right off the bat. Be sure to watch my YouTube video (above) for a better explanation.

#1 It takes time for Facebook to process your high definition videos

A lot of times I see people say they uploaded a 1080 video, and Facebook only lets them view it in 720. Well, give Facebook some time to process the 1080 version of that video. Go make a cup of coffee, come back, and see if you can view the 1080 version. It shouldn't take that long but The longer your video, the longer this takes.

#2 Set your mobile upload settings to HD in the Facebook app

Within the mobile Facebook app on iPhone and Android devices, if you're going to upload videos from your mobile device, there are some settings within the apps themselves that you can change to upload videos and photos in HD. On my iPhone, we come down to the menu in the bottom right, scroll all the way down to settings then account settings, and then go to videos and photos, and turn on the Upload HD setting under video, and also under Photo.

Set Your Mobile Upload Settings To Hd In The Facebook App

For uploading from your desktop, I can't find any actual upload settings. Of course, you know FB will change how to get to these settings and where to find them. Click here for the instructions from Facebook (current as of the time of this writing).

#3 Adjust your video viewing settings

Don't forget to check your video viewing settings. I set mine to always view videos in HD when available. That should cover my Facebook account as a whole, including when I'm on mobile. But for sure, make sure you are viewing your videos in HD either by changing your settings or hitting the little gear icon and choosing the highest res and HD.

Adjust Your Facebook Video Viewing Settings For Better Quality

Can you improve Facebook Video Quality when you Upload?

I know you're wanting to know is there anything we do to improve our video quality on Facebook videos. Unfortunately, Facebook's help center doesn't appear to give any recommended upload settings. I looked all over the Facebook help section!

The only Facebook video quality recommendations I found were for videos that would be used as ads. If you're uploading a Facebook Ad, they do recommend some settings:

  • Video Ratio: 9:16 to 16:9
  • Video File Size: 4GB Max
  • Video Length Minimum: 1 second
  • Video Length Maximum: 240 Minutes
  • Video Captions: Optional but recommended
  • Video Sound: Optional but recommended
  • Text: 125 characters
  • Bitrate: If your file is under 1GB and uses 2-pass encoding there is no bitrate limit. Otherwise, the limit is 8 megabits per second for 1080p and 4 megabits per second for 720p.
  • Video thumbnail images that consist of more than 20% text may experience reduced delivery. Learn more about text in images.
  • Vertical videos (with aspect ratio taller than 2:3) may be masked to 2:3

But does this apply to regular videos that aren't ads? I don't know because Facebook doesn't say.

Resolution and Bitrate for Facebook Videos

I’m not the best person to explain this super technical side of things, but to make sure we're on the same page, the resolution of your video is the dimensions like 1080 is 1920px wide by 1080 high. Or you might have a resolution of 720 or 4K.

But the resolution alone doesn't dictate the quality of your video, there's a little thing called bitrate. Bitrate is a compression setting, it does a lot of the heavy lifting to determine the quality of the videos we view online.

Generally speaking, a 1080 resolution video with a high bitrate is probably going to look great but the file size is going to be pretty big, and it’s going to be really hefty to stream over the internet.

So Facebook will happily compress it for you by lowering the bitrate so your video is more accessible to its users… your friends and family. They're kind of doing you favor… Not everyone is on blazing fast fiber networks!

So lowering the bitrate is like lowering the bar for users who are on mobile networks, or on shared wifi networks where they speed isn't that great, for example. Facebook wants all users to be able to tap a video and have it just play, no loading, no buffering, nothing, just play.

I think we can all appreciate that.

Does Facebook Video Quality Even Matter?

So The resulting video you get from Facebook is ya know, not as great as it looked on your computer or your phone. But is it really that bad guys? You have to kinda weigh, ya know, what was your desired outcome in creating the video in the first place.

Did you want your friends and family to say “Wow, nice pixels! Lovin' watchya did with the high def, buddy!” or did you want them to say “hey that was fun to watch, thanks for sharing!”

Chances are, your friends, family, and fellow human beings who genuinely want to watch a video that you create, are not going to notice or care. They want to see what you created, re-live the experience, then they're gonna give it a thumbs up and move on to the whatever stupid cat meme shows up in their feed after your video. It's facebook guys!

Video Quality on YouTube

YouTube doesn't compress your videos as much as Facebook, so if you're more concerned with how the video looks, you could upload to YouTube and put a link to the video on Facebook. Generally, that's not going to result in as many views or get as much engagement on Facebook as if you uploaded a video natively to Facebook, so you have to kinda decide what's important to you there.

Now if you are looking to upload native videos to a Facebook page, like for a business or a blog, then if you really want to maximize engagement and reach, don't drop a link to youtube. Facebook does NOT like that and you'll basically be shunned by the algorithm.

Personally, I don't concern myself with Facebook video quality much at all. If you have discovered the mystery of video export settings that result in crystal clear quality on Facebook, drop me some hints down in the comments! I'd love to know what settings you use and if you're happy with how your videos look on Facebook.

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