Cooking Videos are a Recipe for Success on Social

Published on Nov 30th, 2015

Move over, Julia. There’s a new chef in town. Chefs, actually. But calling them chefs isn’t exactly accurate, either. Social media recipe producers? That doesn’t have the right ring. Whatever you call them, there’s a new group taking over Facebook.

If 2014 marked the rise of social video , 2015 is the year that video recipes conquered Facebook, becoming the platform’s most engaged type of new content. You know the recipes I’m talking about. They’re about a minute long and include time-lapse images throughout the cooking process with on-screen instructions.

The most engaged Facebook video of the year was the apple roses recipe from life hack website Tip Hero. The 1:14 video with a handful of basic instructions has generated nearly 7.7 million total actions (likes, comments and shares) and counting. Of those, a staggering 73% were shares.

It’s also the most engaged post of the year, of any type of content, including photos .

A New Type of Video

Recipes accounted for five of the year’s top 20 Facebook videos, including Tip Hero’s omelet muffins , Tasty’s mozzarella-stuffed slow cooker meatballs , BuzzFeed Food’s pizza cone and Tasty’s chocolate cream cheese stuffed monkey bread . Tasty didn’t exist five months ago, and other recipe producers like Tastemade really didn’t start engaging audiences and adding to their fan bases until this year.

These recipe videos vary slightly. Some are savory, others are sweet. There are snacks and entrees. But they all have two things in common: simplicity and brevity. It also doesn’t hurt that the recipes look delicious.

Those first two characteristics are noteworthy because this type of content is optimized specifically for Facebook , which now autoplays video in the news feed without sound.

But there’s something else that makes these videos easier to engage with, more shareable.

“Food is an easy thing for people to bond over on social media no matter if they know each other really well or only know each other a little, if they’re constantly in touch or have been out of touch for a while. It’s a lighthearted topic, it’s not too serious or overtly political (most of the time),” BuzzFeed Food co-creative director Emily Fleischaker told Digiday . “Not everyone wears makeup or likes to workout or is getting married or is a parent — or even likes to cook. But everyone’s gotta eat.”

The success of recipe videos hasn't been limited to any specific time of year, but the start of the holiday season has already included some posts that have generated significant engagement. Tasty's Egg Rolls with Sweet & Sour Cranberry Sauce , Shepherd's Pie and Make Sushi's Savory Thanksgiving Poppers (via Tastemade) were among the top Thanksgiving-related posts in November. They all boasted using Thanksgiving recipes to create delicious meals and snacks.

Social Video is Shareable                                                                

Videos are among the most shareable content in social media. Through the first three quarters of the year, shares accounted for 11% of all Facebook actions. However, video posts were shared 46% of the time.


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors last month that video views have doubled since April to more than 8 million per day .

While views are important when evaluating the success of social video, actions, such as shares specifically, can give brands insight into what content resonates most with consumers. When a video is shared, its audience grows, increasing its amplification and the impressions it ultimately generates for a brand .

Actions on video content have increased 103% on Facebook through the first three quarters of the year.

It All Started with BuzzFeed

Publishers were early adopters of the Facebook autoplay feature, and BuzzFeed was among the most successful .

It transferred that success to its BuzzFeed Food brand, which debuted in 2012. According to Digiday , BuzzFeed Food started experimenting with short recipe videos on Instagram, but didn’t find success until it moved them to Facebook earlier this year.

Shortly after, BuzzFeed created Tasty. It launched on July 31 and now has nearly 13 million fans. In less than four months, Tasty’s following has surpassed BuzzFeed Food’s and more than doubled BuzzFeed’s.

Tastemade, another video recipe channel, has grown from more than 83,000 fans in December 2014 to nearly 4.9 million today. Tastemade’s success led it to create Sweeten for its dessert recipes.

“Everything about food works on Facebook.” Steven Kydd, Tastemade’s co-founder, told The Wall Street Journal .

Revenue Potential

While audience engagement with video recipes is undeniable, brands are still trying to figure out how to monetize the content.

Facebook is now experimenting with suggested video. When clicked, users will get a series of related videos that they can choose to engage with. Some of those videos will include ads. According to Re/code, brands whose videos are featured with an ad will split 55% of the revenue with the rest going to Facebook.

Facebook said in October that it was pleased with initial results , but didn’t provide any more specifics.

Until then, recipe producers can generate revenue from video by finding advertising partners. Tasty mentions that the following recipe was inspired by Panda Express.

Recipe producers could also generate revenue from the brands and products they use in their videos. BuzzFeed Food uses Oreos in several of its recipes.


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