On August 9, 2017, Facebook launched a new feature called “Watch.” It is a platform for shows either live or recorded videos, which follow a theme or storyline.
As stated by the Facebook director of product, Daniel Danker, “Watch is a platform for all creators and publishers to find an audience, build a community of passionate fans, and earn money for their work.
Facebook has gradually rolled out the feature to a limited number of people in the United States, and a limited group of creators and publishers, with the plan to bring the Watch experience to more people “soon.”
What makes it different from Newsfeed videos?
Watch has a host of Facebook-familiar features designed to help users discover shows—personalized around what their friends, and the communities they are part of, are watching.
Tabs like “What Friends Are Watching,” “Most Talked About,” and “What’s Making People Laugh” (shows where a number of people used the “Haha” reaction) help foster the concept of community, allowing users to connect with friends and follow shows that they’re watching.
Speaking of community, the way Watch displays comments and reactions (similar to the Live feature) encourages people to join the conversation—something Facebook believes is as much a part of the experience as the broadcast itself.
What is Facebook’s goal?
According to Danker, Facebook aims for Watch to become a home to a wide range of shows, from reality to comedy to live sports.
While it remains unclear if they are targeting YouTube or Netflix with this new feature, Facebook vice president of media partnerships Nick Grudin, couldn’t make their agenda any clearer—advertising money.
“Over time, creators will be able to monetize their shows through Ad Breaks,” Grudin said. “We’ve been testing Ad Breaks over the past few months, and we will be slowly opening up availability to more creators to ensure we’re providing a good experience for the community.”
Grudin added that Facebook Watch can also be open to sponsored shows via the branded content tag.
What does Watch mean for marketers?
While it’s still early, marketers will have to put a close eye on how the current batch of selected creators are adopting the Watch platform, and how users are consuming and engaging the content produced.
With more than 2 billion active users, should the people receive Watch the way Facebook envisions it to be, no doubt that marketers will have to shift ad spending (digital ad spend surpassed television for the first time in 2016, and has increased to $4 billion in the United States alone) to Watch.
And with Facebook Groups used by over 1 billion users, not to mention having the most mature advertising platform as any social network, the community-centered Watch platform makes it enticing for current Facebook users to adopt.
How marketers can utilize Facebook Watch
When Facebook eventually rolls out the Watch feature to all users, brands (and individual professionals) can produce serialized content, addressing identified customer pain points, and audience submitted inquiries. A regular show focused on addressing current and potential customers’ concerns have the potential to increase sales leads, and drive traffic to brands’ websites.
Even smaller brands can find empowerment in Watch—as a small restaurant could publish weekly videos, teaching their audience how to prepare a different version of their most popular dishes; or a Facebook online seller can publish regular videos showing their customers how to best use their products.
Watch as an influencer marketing platform
Influencer marketing, already a huge deal on social media, can also take advantage of the many possibilities of Watch. Not only will those that consume influencers’ content already be targeted consumers, Watch makes driving conversations that much more seamless with its interactive features.
Naturally, much like YouTube launched, Watch will be encouraging a new breed of creators to build their following on this new platform. This gives marketers a new pool of micro-influencers to tap for their sponsored posts, while also assuring themselves that the people seeing the content remain interested in it.
As previously mentioned, Facebook already has the most mature advertising platform of any social network. Over the years, Facebook continued to offer a unique value proposition that became vital for the growth of any business or organization. Their recently introduced in-stream video ad placement (five- to 15-second mid-roll videos) continuously maintains viewer attention, as users are more inclined to see the content following the ads.
Depending on how the platform evolves, and how users embrace the evolution, Watch has the potential to tilt ad placement and become an attractive channel for both creators and marketers.
Podcasting and live streams
Watch has the potential to make the continually growing podcast and live video industry exponentially more interactive (with the aforementioned live comments/reactions feature, and community Watch pages)—this interactive nature alone introduces seemingly infinite potential for brands to take advantage of.
Just imagine how crazy it would be to be able to ask questions to the most influential people in the e-commerce industry, for example, in real time. It’s a scenario where everyone wins, and you can be sure that includes marketers.
What Facebook Watch means to marketers currently depends on two things—how creators adapt the platform to their content, and how users consume and engage with those content.
For now, Watch is essentially Facebook for consistent video content creators. And if all goes to plan and Ad Breaks holds its ground, Facebook hopes for it to be a major revenue stream.
But while Facebook started this to foster a community around creative and informative shows, there remains the question of how long will it take for sponsored content to drown out organic ones, just like what happened to our Newsfeeds.
However this turns out for Facebook though, you can be sure that the platform is already established in the sights of marketers, studying its potential, and the many possibilities in which they can utilize it.
Interested in publishing at Facebook Watch? Inquire here.
Jolina Landicho is a marketing strategist working with various brands online, and the content marketing manager of Avenew Media. She is devoted to helping businesses bridge relationship gaps by providing in-depth, actionable advice on online marketing, business development, and growth hacking.