When it comes to home entertainment, on-demand is in big demand. Many tech companies now offer video streaming services to ensure a steady flow of content to keep everybody glued to their televisions.
Netflix is the leader of the pack, boasting 167.1 million subscribers worldwide according to The New York Times. But competition is increasingly fierce. Amazon Prime has over 101 million subscribers and experts predict similar figures for Apple TV+. Disney+ attracted 10 million subs on its first day of operation despite not being immediately available in all countries.
Facebook’s own foray into video streaming services is Facebook Watch, which first launched in 2017. Unlike other services, it’s completely free and accessible to anyone with a Facebook account. This means it has an incredibly wide distribution, and great potential as part of a Facebook influencer marketing campaign. Here we discuss everything you need to know about Facebook Watch and how to incorporate compelling video content into your marketing strategy.
What Is Facebook Watch?
Facebook Watch is a video-on-demand streaming service. It offers a combination of original programming from partners and content from Facebook users, groups and pages. The service is completely free to view and accessible to anyone with a Facebook account. As part of a social media platform, Facebook Watch has strong potential for marketing and generating user engagement.
Facebook Watch is built directly into Facebook, making it possible to stream content in your browser window. Simply click the Facebook Watch tab on the left of the screen to access the feature. However, there’s also a Facebook Watch TV app that lets you use the service on a variety of additional platforms:
- Amazon Fire TV
- Apple TV (fourth generation and above)
- Android TV
- Samsung Smart TV (models from 2015 onwards)
- Xbox One
- Oculus TV
- Portal TV
It’s also possible to stream Facebook Watch to your TV. This is achievable by running the Facebook Watch TV app on your smart TV or connecting your TV to your streaming device.
Content on Facebook Watch is incredibly diverse, covering all types of entertainment. It falls into three main categories:
- Original premium content: Facebook has put funds into the creation of new and exclusive shows for the streaming service. This includes live-action dramas, comedies, talk shows, game shows, documentaries, animation and reality shows.
- Acquired syndicated shows: Facebook purchased the rights to show several old, popular television series that were originally aired on network television. Shows include “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and “Firefly.”
- User content: While not in the original scope of the service, Facebook has since incorporated user-submitted videos in the Watch collection. Any content is eligible for inclusion, but Facebook has final say over what gets featured.
To access Facebook Watch, select the “Watch” option in the left menu bar within Facebook. From here, there are several ways to find content that interests you:
- Top videos for you: When you first access the service, Facebook offers up a list of pre-selected videos. This is a personalized list, based on videos that Facebook’s learning algorithm has determined you’d like. This may be because you’ve watched similar content before or because you’ve subscribed to the content creator.
- Your watchlist: This is a list of all of the content creators you follow. From here it’s possible to select individual creators to see their latest videos. It’s also possible to see the latest videos from all of the channels you follow or to access videos you saved to enjoy later.
- Search videos: Facebook Watch has a search function. This lets you find specific shows or episodes, or run keyword searches for content that aligns with your interests.
Getting Your Content on Facebook Watch
The original concept for Facebook Watch was a streaming service akin to Netflix, but without the subscription. Facebook bankrolled new, exclusive shows and bought the rights to existing properties. However, by 2018 the platform began changing its approach and making Facebook Watch into something to rival YouTube. The service started showcasing content from company and brand pages in addition to new and existing premium content.
The offering has continuously evolved and now any video posted by any person, page or group is eligible for consideration on Watch. However, the important word here is “consideration.” While any videos may appear on Facebook Watch, it isn’t possible to create a video and post it directly to the service. The service comprises carefully curated content, so if you want to feature you need to focus on generating quality videos.
After creating compelling content, you need to upload it to Facebook. There are two quick and easy ways to do this:
- From your page: Select “Publishing tools,” then select “Video library” from the side panel. From within the Video library, click the “+ Upload” button, and the select the required video.
- From Creator Studio: From anywhere within the Studio, click the “+” button. Click “Video” and then select the required video.
When uploading videos, you have numerous fields to complete and options to select. In addition to adding a title and a description, it’s possible to target a particular audience using news feed targeting and audience restrictions. You also have the option of selecting your distribution methods. There are four options for determining where your video appears, and it’s important to select the ones that are suitable for your campaign goals:
- News Feed: Selecting this option means your video appears in your news feed. The video may appear in the timelines of the people who follow your page.
- Allow Embedding: This option allows users to embed the video in sites outside of Facebook. This helps to improve the reach of a video, which may even become viral. The downside is you lose control over the sites the video appears on.
- Add as Secret Video: This is an option that severely restricts the video’s reach. The video is only available via a link, so you have complete control over who sees it.
- Display in Watch: This is the important option if you want your video to appear in the Facebook Watch service. If you don’t select this option, your video is excluded from consideration. Selecting this option does not guarantee your video’s inclusion, but it does mean the video is considered for the service.
Top Tips for Making Videos
Creating a video and uploading it to Facebook doesn’t guarantee you’re going to feature on Facebook Watch. If you want to benefit from the wider distribution and potential engagement the streaming service provides, you need to ensure each video is as good as possible. Consider these important tips for making professional videos:
- Focus on value: The purpose of your content is to promote your brand. Ultimately, you want people to click through to your Facebook page or business site after watching the video. However, the key to good content is to give the viewer a valuable experience. Content marketing should provide helpful answers and solutions as a priority and promote your brand as a secondary consideration. In this manner you position yourself as a solutions provider, and your brand name becomes associated with positive, resonant content.
- Consider your content: It’s a good plan to have a strong idea of what each video is about and what you hope it’s going to achieve. Videos fall into categories such as vlogs, tutorials, product presentations, interviews, live streams and entertainment.
- Use a call to action (CTA): Put value first, but never lose sight of what you want your video to achieve for your business. You should always include a CTA, such as a request to click through to your blog or ecommerce site, or to like your Facebook page. If your priority is building engagement and promoting discussion among fans, then suggest viewers leave their comments and suggestions. It’s a good idea to position your CTA towards the end of the video. At this point the viewer has found the answers they’re looking for and is able to judge if they want to learn more about your business.
- Keep videos on trend: Sharing some retro content is fine. However, if you want to attract a lot of attention and improve your chances of appearing on Facebook Watch, keep your content relevant. Hot topics generate more buzz, and you’re likely to get higher levels of engagement.
- Research demographics: What kind of market are you aiming to reach? If you have a particular type of customer you want to appeal to, then make sure you tailor your content appropriately. To help you establish your core demographic, mine your existing customer data and use it to establish personas. These personas represent your “average” customers and help you create appealing content specifically for them.
- Create long-form content: Facebook prioritizes distribution of videos that are at least three minutes long. Such videos are considered even more favorably if the majority of viewers watch all the way to the end.
- Use an eye-catching thumbnail: The thumbnail is the static image that appears at the start of your video. It’s like a banner ad for your content and needs to capture someone’s attention. Keep in mind that thumbnails appear in long lists of videos, so you really need to make sure your image stands out.
- Be professional: You don’t have to have the best lighting and video equipment to create professional content. You just have to approach creation in a professional manner. Focus on delivering what the audience wants, make sure any facts you share are verified and deliver information clearly and concisely. If your video is full of valuable content then viewers will forgive some technical flaws.
- Create a series: If you create episodic content, you’re always giving your fans something new to look forward to. It’s even possible to use the premiere feature to generate pre-release buzz and the schedule feature to set an exact release time. If you have a regular release schedule, followers also know when your content is going to drop and are more likely to search it out. Creating a series means you have more content in the system, and there’s an increased chance of some of your work appearing on Facebook Watch. Facebook also prioritizes the distribution of videos from pages that inspire returning viewership.
- Post frequently: Facebook recommends posting one or two videos each day, or even more for large businesses. This level of frequency helps to improve brand reach.
Businesses should work with influencers: Facebook Watch has used the appeal of celebrities and influencers to help build the brand. Influencers know how to create compelling content with an improved chance of going viral. Furthermore, they have an existing, loyal audience to tap into. If you work with influencers you have an opportunity to leverage these advantages. Videos have the potential to reach a much wider audience and are more likely to feature on Watch.
- Use an informative post update and video title: When you post a video, make sure it has a catchy title. This title needs to give potential viewers an idea of what the video is about. Expand on this information in the post update, so viewers are in a position to make an informed decision about whether they want to watch.
- Use video categories: Using video categories helps your videos find the right audience. It helps when people are searching for specific content and means fewer people view your content in error. Targeted marketing is valuable, because the people who watch your videos are much more likely to enjoy them and engage with your brand.
- Have a strong hook at the start: By default, videos on Facebook auto-play. This means that if someone lingers for a few seconds, the video starts automatically. This is your opportunity to grab their attention, so don’t start your video with a slow lead-in or a boring sales pitch. Hook their attention with something interesting, encouraging them to settle on the video and watch through to the end.
- Optimize for no sound: Users watch 85 percent of Facebook videos without sound, according to Sprout Social. That means it’s essential to optimize your video so it grabs a viewer’s attention even when watched in silence. It’s possible to do this by including subtitles and ensuring your image is striking. Facebook has functionality for creating auto-generated captions, but to ensure accuracy, there’s an option for you to write your own. If sound is important, include a notification suggesting the viewer should turn up the volume.
- Use the recommended technical specifications: Facebook supports a wide variety of file formats and sizes, but it’s a good idea to reduce file size and adhere to recommended specs. Aim to use MP4 files less than 2.3 GB in size with a resolution of 1080p or less.
There’s a lot to think about when making a video, from how you film it to how you upload it and promote it. This takes time and effort to perfect. If you’re concerned you lack the expertise, it’s a good idea to think about outsourcing your visual marketing to an agency or freelancers who have the necessary skills to ensure an excellent product. If you work with influencers, they handle the content creation, which means you don’t have to worry about the technical side of creating the videos.
Why Is Video Content Important?
The old adage says an image is worth 1,000 words. So how many words is the image worth if it moves and has accompanying voice overs or music? Video is a particularly powerful format for entertaining audiences and driving engagement. If you aren’t sure why you should be looking for platforms to host your own video marketing, consider these statistics:
- As of January 2018, 85 percent of Internet users in the United States watch online video, according to Statista. With such a huge market clamoring for quality content, it makes sense to provide it. If you don’t, someone else will.
- Ninety-two percent of marketers who use video claim it’s an important part of their marketing strategy, according to HubSpot. Furthermore, 88 percent of video marketers report a positive return on investment (ROI). That means a lot of marketers are using video and seeing good ROI. If it’s working for them, it could be working for you too.
- The appeal of video grows stronger every year. Of marketers who don’t currently use video, 59 percent intend to start in 2020, according to HubSpot. As more and more people move into the market, it’s going to become increasingly difficult to stand out. It’s worth making your move as soon as possible so you don’t get left behind and you have a better chance of establishing a presence.
- Millennials are affluent and tech-savvy, and advertisers need to find ways to connect with them. Over 60 percent of Millennials and Gen Z consumers stream videos every single day, according to a report by Deloitte. This clearly indicates that the video format offers the perfect delivery method for Millennial marketing.
- Experts estimate the global video-streaming market will be worth over $124.57 billion by 2025, according to Learning Hub. With that kind of money on the table, more people are going to be investing in providing video content. It’s important to keep up with trends and to leverage every format to drive your business.
- While blogs and long-form written content still have their place, there’s evidence that video killed the blogger star. According to a survey by livestream.com, 80 percent of brand audiences would rather watch live video than read a blog. If you’re relying on your writing, you could be missing out on a huge audience.
- Even back in 2014, a study by analytics firm Quintly revealed that videos have higher engagement rates on Facebook than static images. While it’s good to have a mix of content formats to keep followers interested, clearly video has the potential to drive engagement.
Here’s some food for thought. In 2016, Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s VP for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, predicted that by 2021 Facebook would be all video. That may not be the case, but there’s a strong shift towards more video content, and that’s only going to increase. It makes sense to get involved now and stay ahead of the curve.
Facebook Watch in 2020
There’s no denying the value of videos for content marketing. However, with YouTube as a well-established video-sharing platform, why should influencers and marketers consider using Facebook Watch in 2020?
The answer is that Facebook is constantly evolving and introducing new features. There are several exciting opportunities for improving the reach of your content, building engagement with your followers and generating sales that other platforms don’t provide. Here are some of the best reasons why influencers and marketers should be excited about Facebook Watch and videos on Facebook.
1. Free and Extensive Distribution
One of the biggest advantages to posting videos on Facebook is the massive distribution. Any video uploaded has the potential to find a wide audience. There’s even potential to target specific demographics. There are five main reasons why Facebook videos offer excellent reach:
- Facebook Watch is free: Unlike Netflix or Amazon Prime, Facebook Watch is a free service. Creators don’t have to pay to have their content featured, and viewers don’t have to pay to watch.
- The Facebook audience is huge: Facebook has in excess of 2.4 billion active users, according to Statista. Those figures mean that despite stiff competition from YouTube and WhatsApp, Facebook remains king of the hill with the biggest market share of social media. As Facebook Watch is available for free to everyone with a Facebook account, it’s easy to see the appeal of generating more video content for the platform.
- No need for a separate app: Although it’s possible to view Facebook Watch through the app, it’s also possible to watch videos from within the main Facebook app. That means every Facebook member already has access to the service without the need for additional registration or download. This helps to ensure a much wider distribution and also makes it easy for viewers to transition between laptops, desktops and mobile devices.
- All videos are eligible for consideration: Any videos uploaded by individuals or companies are potentially eligible for inclusion on Facebook Watch. While there’s no guarantee of being featured, it isn’t necessary to enroll in any special programs. High-quality content is more likely to feature, so creators should aim to produce the best content possible for each upload.
- There’s targeted distribution: When uploading content, it’s possible to use publishing options and categories to target specific demographics. While this limits overall reach, it’s possible to make sure more of the right people see the videos this way. There’s no point in thousands of people seeing a video if it’s on a niche subject 99 percent of them won’t care about.
Despite the growth in videos on Facebook, YouTube is still the most widely used platform for video marketers. That has the potential to work in your favor if you decide to use Facebook instead. The slightly smaller user base means there’s less noise to contend with. Competition is less fierce, and you have a better chance of gaining some recognition and building your brand.
2. Curated Content
Facebook Watch comprises curated content selected by popularity and predicted interest. When viewers access the app, they see personalized snapshots of what’s hot on the platform at that moment. This has benefits for viewers, content creators and advertisers:
- Viewers: Facebook knows a lot about users, from the information in their biographies to the people they follow and the content they like and share. This massive amount of data makes it easier for Facebook to tailor content to match a user’s interests. Users get to see exactly the kind of high-quality content they enjoy, which leads to a better online experience.
- Creators: When creators post videos, there’s an increased chance the right audience sees those videos. This helps to bring users and content creators together and encourages the connections that create lifelong fans and growing audiences.
- Advertisers: Advertisers purchase advertising space confident that their products and services are attached to valuable curated content. There’s less risk of being associated with a poor video, or a video containing some inappropriate content.
3. Watch Parties
Watch Parties are a fantastic way to generate conversations and build engagement in your Facebook groups. The feature lets you screen videos that are publicly available on Facebook to a selected group of people. These videos may be your own work or the work of someone else. Everybody in the Watch Party watches at the same time, and they all have the ability to comment and interact with each other. This creates a unique online viewing experience where it’s possible to watch a video and discuss the contents in real time.
Watch Parties have numerous applications, from letting friends view films together while they’re far apart to holding educational seminars. You could personally host the premiere of a new video or create a playlist of informative films to help your followers learn a new skill. It’s even possible to field questions and assess the immediate response to your work. This adds significant value for you and your fans and helps to build a sense of community.
Creating a Watch Party is incredibly simple. First, you need to generate some interest by advertising the event to your followers. When you’re ready to create the event, start a new post as you would for any other kind of update. In the post options, select “Watch Party,” and then publish your post.
At this stage you need to add the video or videos. It’s possible to select videos from a variety of sources, including a group or page you manage or any publicly available videos. Find videos using the search function or browse Facebook’s suggestions for great content tailored to you.
Once your Watch Party is in full swing, you have full control over the stream. It’s possible to pause the video to discuss what’s happening with your group, rewind or fast forward. You can invite groups of people to watch along with you by using the invitation options within the Watch Party window. Select from group members who use the search field to find specific people from your community you want to reach out to.
Everybody you invite sees the same video running live, and they all have an opportunity to leave comments and reactions. Comments are not accessible once you terminate the party, so take note of any important feedback that you may need to refer to later.
4. Monetization Options for Creators
Facebook strives to give creators opportunities to build a brand and generate income. If a page meets the eligibility requirements, it gains access to powerful monetization options. To be eligible for inclusion a page must have at least 1,000 followers. It must also have engaging content that generated 180,000 minutes of view time and at least 15,000 post engagements in the last 60 days. A page must also publish only content it has the right to share, and share that content “in an authentic way.”
Creators who meet all of the requirements must submit applications. Upon acceptance to the monetization program, there are three main ways for creators to generate income from their content:
- Brand collaborations: This is a fantastic opportunity for influencers to find brand partners and make money from their presence on Facebook. Once registered, influencers create portfolios to convey their interests and expertise and to showcase the type of content they create. Brands have access to a search tool that lets them study portfolios for influencers that match their marketing requirements. The service facilitates the connection and content generated for a paid partnership gets a label to identify it as such.
- Fan subscriptions: Content creators have the option of a paid subscription for their fans. This is a good way to generate predictable earnings month over month rather than relying on one-off promotions and irregular use of affiliate links. Top fans pay a monthly subscription in exchange for certain perks. It’s possible to tailor the supporter experience to meet particular requirements, but generally supporters gain access to exclusive content and a special supporter badge. Steady income for creators makes it easier to plan ahead and grow a brand, while the supporter feature encourages loyalty and a sense of community.
- In-stream ads: Creators who make long-form content have the option to insert ads into their qualifying videos. Creators select from pre-roll, mid-roll and image ads and then select which videos they want to monetize. Facebook selects ads and tailors the experience to suit different viewing platforms. For mid-roll ads, Facebook automatically identifies natural break points to minimize viewing disruption. To ensure eligibility, creators should follow Facebook’s best practices for creating video content.
5. Video-Management Tools
With any type of content marketing, it’s essential to establish your key performance indicators (KPIs) and then analyze your results. Analysis identifies what’s working and what isn’t, making it possible to adjust marketing tactics to get a better ROI. Facebook is implementing new tools to make this process even easier for video creators.
New Traffic Source Insights features within the Creator Studio provide vital data regarding your reach. Information includes where videos play and how long people watch. This helps with identification of content that’s failing to grab audiences or that runs too long. It also helps you establish the ideal placement of content on the platform.
6. Showcase for Advertisers
You don’t have to be a content creator to take advantage of Facebook Watch. It’s possible for any business to leverage the power of video to get their ads seen by a wider audience. In 2019, Facebook introduced new tools for advertisers through the Facebook Showcase premium ad program. This program offers three different revenue streams:
- In-Stream Reserve: This service lets advertisers buy placements in advance at a fixed cost for some of the highest-quality videos. In this manner advertisers get first access to exclusive, premium content. Brands place their ads on the best original and publisher content on the platform, ensuring high visibility and brand safety. The increased visibility from accurately reaching audiences makes this a very appealing option.
- In-Stream Reserve Categories: This service has all of the same features as In-Stream Reserve, but it also helps advertisers reach audiences within contextually relevant content. The content categories include food, news, fashion and beauty, sport and entertainment.
- Sponsorships: This service lets advertisers become the exclusive sponsors of specific programs for viewers in the United States. In other words, advertisers pay to place their ads on a particular show that meets their marketing requirements.
Facebook enables advertisers to plan their marketing carefully by purchasing advertising space that fulfills their demands and then measuring results. The processes are the same as for purchasing advertising on premium video and television, so traditional advertisers immediately understand how to take advantage of Facebook services.
7. Dynamic Advertising
Facebook is working to incorporate machine learning to aid dynamic ad creation. The aim is to use information advertisers share about their audiences to serve more personalized advertising at a scalable level. For example, the machine learning algorithm analyzes the advertising format a particular user engages with most frequently and uses that information to serve more of that type of format. The result is a potential higher level of success through personal dynamic ads.
8. Advertising Placement Controls
For advertisers, it’s critical to ensure their products and services don’t become aligned with negative imagery in the audience’s eyes. For example, no brand wants to see its ads running on videos that include hate speech or that could be construed as inciting hate crimes. This has been a problem in the past on Facebook and YouTube, but both platforms have been taking steps to reduce such concerns.
Facebook already offers a range of brand safety features to protect the interests of its advertisers. These features include:
- The option to select where ads appear
- Lists of publishers to identify where ads might appear
- Publisher delivery reports identifying where ads ran
- The ability to block ads from running on certain publishers’ videos
- Inventory filters to choose the content ads should be associated with
In addition to these existing features, Facebook is constantly looking at new ways to combat this issue. In November 2019, the platform announced a series of new brand-safety controls for advertisers:
- Functionality for creating block lists and inventory filters for an account, rather than setting these options on a campaign basis
- Improved delivery reports for easier identification of concerns
- Dynamic content sets that adjust the videos available to advertisers based on brand suitability
- White lists for green-lighting advertisements for specific, trusted publishers
Final Thoughts: Outsourcing Facebook Influencer Marketing
Video content marketing isn’t quick or easy. There are many best practices to consider to ensure every piece of content is of high enough quality to bring value to your brand. Unfortunately, for small businesses, the demands of a rigorous video campaign are often too much. Facebook recommends at least one video upload per day, which is a significant drain on resources. There are several ways to gain access to the skills necessary to create the video content you need:
- In-house team: It’s common for small businesses to create their own content in-house. This is the most time-consuming method, and as your marketing expands it may become necessary to employ a whole team of content creators. There’s potential for significant expense, but work is completed on-site and under your guidance, so you have more control.
- Influencers: Because influencers are talented content creators with their own captive audiences, they bring a lot of value to a marketing campaign. You get an entertainer with the professional skills (or the necessary staff) to make a high-quality, engaging video. Additionally, as influencers build audiences based on trust, when they promote your brand you immediately become more trustworthy in their followers’ eyes.
- Managed Services: If you have a huge content marketing system, you may want to pass it off to a managed services team to help manage your campaigns.
Working with influencers represents a solid opportunity to build lasting partnerships and create opportunities that benefit everybody. However, it isn’t always easy to find influencers that are right for your brand. It’s important to research influencers carefully to ensure they’re genuine and bring value to your business, and this may take considerable time.
If you need to move fast to catch a fleeting trend or hit a business deadline, you may not have the time to do enough research. Influencer discovery tools such as the IZEAx Discovery marketplace put businesses and brands in contact with the talent they need. With the right people involved, you may find a winning formula and see your content on Facebook Watch.