In 2017, Facebook launched its answer to the burgeoning streaming video market: Facebook Watch. Through Watch, users could view both scripted and live video from professional networks, brands, influencers, and everyday people.
Facebook released Watch to a limited group of users, and for that first year, it flew pretty much under the radar. In 2018, they launched it globally, and the service took off like a rocket.
By 2019, Watch had 270 million monthly users, and by 2020, that number had shot up to over 1.25 billion, according to Facebook.
I covered Facebook Watch in a previous post when it initially launched. Since then, they have expanded their content offerings (even getting into the music space!) and added a ton of features for brands and marketers.
In this post, I’ll dive deep into how to use Facebook Watch for marketing, now that the platform has matured.
Content on Facebook Watch
Facebook is still experimenting with different content types by adding, subtracting, and tweaking to find the right balance for their platform. In 2019, Facebook’s head of global creative strategy Rick Van Veen told Variety,
We’re still figuring it out and learning. When you start a new platform, you’re going to have to throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and see what works and what doesn’t.
Facebook’s scripted content can be found under the Show tab. This section is where they’ve entered the ring with the likes of Netflix, Apple+, and Hulu. Here, users can find everything from comedies to critically acclaimed dramas to reality and talk shows.
“Red Table Talk,” for example, is a popular show starring Jada Pinkett Smith, where she brings on guests to discuss sensitive topics such as divorce and gender identity. Meanwhile, Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” fame stars in “Return the Favor,” which won a Daytime Emmy.
However, they’ve recently scaled back on their scripted content, canceling some of their popular shows in favor of live and sourced content from brands and users.
Facebook Live predates Watch by a year. When Watch launched, however, Live was bundled in with the rest of the video content.
Types of videos on Live range from U.S. Senate committee hearings to live author readings and skiers showing off their tricks.
Small businesses have also rushed to Live, creating events and classes to increase revenue.
In August 2020, Facebook launched its new music discovery platform, Facebook Music. Here, users can explore videos by genre, trending topics, artist, and even mood. Currently, the app is only available in the U.S., India, and Thailand, but it’s already garnered a lot of attention.
For instance, Katy Perry debuted her music video “Smile,” the title track of her fifth album, on Facebook Watch.
How Facebook Watch Works
When you create a video on Facebook Watch, whether it’s a live event or a scripted show, you upload it to Facebook using their Creator Studio.
The Creator Studio is the hub for all of your business content for Facebook. From here, you can bulk upload videos, crosspost to different pages, schedule posts, consolidate engagement, and monetize. You can also use their in-depth analytics tools to monitor your content.
On the videos you upload, Facebook places mid-roll ads. Forty-five percent of the revenue from those ads goes to Facebook, while the remaining 55 percent goes to you.
Helpful Hint: Facebook prioritizes longer videos (3+ minutes) and content that engages the audience and sparks conversation. They’re looking for content creators who respond to user comments and pin the best comments to the top of the feed.
How Your Business Can Benefit from Using Advanced Facebook Watch Features
In France, according to Facebook, national broadcaster M6 began creating videos for Watch. Their one-minute video views more than doubled in nine months and they acquired 6 million new follows organically.
Here in the U.S., says Facebook, Buzzfeed has increased their revenue by creating videos over three minutes across their Tasty, Goodful, Nifty, BringMe, Cocoa Butter, and Pero Like pages.
“We moved quickly and increased our payout from total in-stream ads by 20% compared to the previous half,” Maycie Timpone, Executive Director, Video & Publishing at BuzzFeed, told Facebook.
Facebook Watch has become a powerful tool in marketers’ pockets. Let’s take a look at a few ways Watch helps you increase revenue and attract new followers.
Facebook is all about personalized content, and Facebook Watch lets you upload videos right to your target audience. Your videos will also appear in specific categories, such as “Shows Friends Are Following.”
Facebook will also categorize your videos by genre, topic, and even mood.
Recently, Facebook introduced Topics to mobile users. Topics allows users to further customize their video feed by choosing categories that interest them.
Show pages allow users to interact with show creators and fans. They can leave comments, ask questions, or even engage in interactive video content. Just like any other Facebook page, they can like, follow, and share pages with friends.
This feature is particularly helpful with live video. Viewers can react to, share, and comment on a video in real-time.
Real-time engagement is a great opportunity to get initial feedback on your video and engage with your audience by asking and answering questions and becoming part of the conversation.
Facebook Watch Parties
Facebook’s number one goal is to bring people together. It’s why they added groups a few years back, to allow people with similar interests to find each other.
With Facebook Watch Parties, viewers can bring a group of friends together to watch videos and chat about them in real-time.
Video creators can make content tailored to watch parties to boost engagement.
Playlists allow video creators to group videos and post them to their pages. Videos play consecutively to boost views.
Marketers can use playlists for video series or to group videos by topic.
Optimizing Your Facebook Watch Videos
You may be creating killer content for YouTube already, but optimizing Facebook Watch videos is a little different. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your Facebook video content:
First, Make Sure It’s Original
Pulling content over from YouTube or even your website won’t work for many reasons. First, the aspect ratio may be wrong (more on that next). Second, original content exclusive to Facebook will keep people coming back, allowing you to take advantage of Facebook’s monetization tools.
Pay Attention to Aspect Ratio
Facebook gives video creators specific aspect ratios for all pages on both Facebook and Instagram.
You’ll want to follow those guidelines, but in general, make sure your video is shot for mobile. The vast majority of Facebook users access it via mobile, and more than half of ad revenue comes from mobile-first video ads.
Eighty-five percent of videos on Facebook are watched without sound. So, adding captions to all of your video content will naturally boost engagement.
Include a CTA
When you upload a video, Facebook allows you to add a CTA at the end. Whether it’s an invitation to watch more videos, check out a product, or simply like your page, adding a CTA can increase engagement and even boost conversions.
Beyond the Basics: Advanced Uses and Features of Facebook Watch
Recently, Facebook has added a bunch of cool new features that marketers can take advantage of. Let’s take a look at them.
ThruPlay is a default setting and one you should keep on. With ThruPlay, if your video is shorter than 15 seconds, it will post it to users who are more likely to watch the whole thing. If it’s longer than that, it will deliver it to users who generally watch videos longer than 15 seconds all the way through.
Paid Online Events
Paid online events are a function of live video and have become an essential tool for businesses. Brands can create, host, and promote an event all in one place. They can also set a price and collect payment easily.
Helpful Hint: Facebook normally collects a fee for a paid online event. At least until August 2021, however, they have waived their fees.
Creating the ability for fans to subscribe to your video page boosts engagement. It also allows you to foster customer loyalty through exclusive offers and content for subscribers.
According to Facebook, it also allows you to predict revenue monthly.
Another feature is Stars, a tool that allows fans to support your work. Users can purchase stars to send to you. For every star a fan sends to you, Facebook gives you 1 cent.
(Think “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and the hearts he had to earn on his videos.)
The more you engage with users, the more likely they are to send you stars.
Facebook is still rolling out this program to a limited number of users, but you can sign up to show your interest.
A/B Testing Tools
On the back end, Organic Video Post Testing allows video creators to test between two and four variations of a video at a time. Videos are distributed to your target audience, but they’re not posted to your page. The video with the most engagement after a period of time is then posted to your page automatically.
According to Variety, Facebook takes in 22 percent of U.S. digital ad spend. Before Watch, ads that appeared in newsfeeds and the right rail kind of got lost in the mix, right?
However, as pointed out previously, ads that would usually get lost in Facebook feeds get a lot more attention when they appear in the middle of a video.
Mining Audience Data from Your Facebook Watch Viewers
When it comes to analytics, Facebook Creator Studio is a veritable treasure trove. Here are some of the cooler stats you can mine from your dashboard:
There are so many different ways you can parse these metrics. For example, if you want to see the number of minutes viewed, you don’t have to settle for a lump sum. You can break it down by minutes viewed on your page, in shared posts, and crossposts.
You can also see how many views were over three seconds long or how many people viewed the whole video, depending on what comes first.
You can also filter by auto-played vs. click-played and paid vs. organic.
All of the views are measured over a 28-day period.
Audience Engagement and Retention
To get a quick overview of your posts, you can look at the number of reactions, comments, and shares for videos with at least 100 views.
You can also go way beyond that. You can see audience demographics, and you can filter by fans and non-fans to know who you’re truly reaching.
If a video is performing well, you can choose to boost it right from your dashboard.
To dig even deeper into each video, Facebook shows your viewer retention through the entire length of the video. Line graphs like this one show you exactly where viewers dropped off in your video so you can make adjustments.
What’s really neat: when you hover over the line graph, each point of the line displays your video’s corresponding frame.
Finally, you can measure each post against other posts to assess which types of videos and content are working well (or not) for you.
Just as important as the positive metrics are the negative ones. Facebook can show you negative comments, as well as how many times people hid your video from their feed or reported it as inappropriate.
Finally, Facebook can differentiate between clicks to play your video, clicks on links embedded in your video description, and clicks on your CTA.
Increasing User Engagement Via Facebook Watch (and Why This Matters!)
We’ve talked about all the levers you can pull with Facebook Watch, but how do you use them to increase user engagement? Here’s how to use all their cool features to do just that:
Take Advantage of Real-Time Commenting
Comments give context to all those reactions and shares, but you probably knew that. Of course, you can use them to improve your content by creating more of what gets positive comments and less of what doesn’t.
More importantly, you should be responding to comments, not only on your videos but also on your pages. Show your fans that you’re paying attention, and they will be engaged followers.
Instead of simply reacting to conversations already happening, create and direct the discourse yourself. Invite fans to comment on specific elements of your videos, share their tips, or ask questions.
If you’re a part of the Star program, this is a great way to encourage people to send some your way.
Use the Subscription Function
Subscriptions are a great way to create that velvet rope effect. Create an exclusive space for fans to get updates on content before anyone else. Offer content and giveaways for subscribers.
Make them feel special, and they’ll keep coming back for more.
Put That Mined Data to Good Use
As you’ve seen, Facebook gives you a wealth of analytics about your videos, right down to the minute viewers stopped watching your videos.
Use that information to compare and tweak content, experiment with longer or shorter videos, or introduce and keep track of new content.
Don’t Neglect the A/B Testing Functionality
While it is time-consuming to create more than one video, A/B testing multiple versions of videos will only increase your engagement, and you can’t deny how easy Facebook makes it.
Since they don’t post anything to your page until the end of the testing period (which they do automatically), you really have nothing to lose.
Facebook Watch has had explosive growth and attracted the attention of brands, celebrities, small businesses, and influencers. The sheer number of viewers and the amount of ad revenue on the table makes creating original content for Facebook a no-brainer.
The real trick is pulling the right levers to create engaging videos that get reactions, shares, and comments. If you can get subscriptions, even better.
Dive into your Creative Studio to look at all the advanced tools Facebook offers.
How will you use Facebook Watch to build your audience and boost your revenue?