Facebook was born with a simple aim: to connect the people of the world..and well, at the same time make some money out of it. It worked out well in favour of Mark Zuckerberg, who didn’t just end up creating a trend — he created a commodity that would term a person as being a social recluse if they didn’t have one.
“Facebook me” became this generation’s “Call me!”, a feat larger than anyone in the tech-sphere had ever achieved. With the dotcom bubble behind it, Zuckerberg was able to create a site, which none of you realized would not just change your lives, but single-handedly take over it.
With the recent problems in terms of privacy issues, non-stringent conditions for fake political ads and many more, Facebook has seen its fair share of worry. The company itself is doing well with its large following on Instagram, WhatsApp and many other investments, so investors aren’t that worried, but what about its flagship investment? The social networking site that made it all happen? The stock has plummeted, congress hearings have occurred, people have boycotted the site — yet can we concur that Facebook is ever going to die?
Facebook understands its competitors and it understands what’s working. Keeping this in mind, Facebook has continued to launch 3 new services — Facebook Watch, Facebook Dating and Facebook Gaming.
Entering the (main)streaming market with Facebook Watch
With many streaming services already in the field, Facebook decided to throw its hat in the ring with Facebook Watch.
Facebook Watch is an on-demand service, which creates original content. It not only showcases actors and other celebrities but includes the new wave of influencers. The point of this service is to be able to share content with your friends because, well it’s just so darn entertaining or informative, its a crime not to share it almost — which is what drives this site.
You know, “Huh, I bet she would love this video about ‘Conversations I have with my Cats’ “(here’s looking at you Buzzfeed.) and Facebook Watch just allows you to increase the views of the page’s video — hoping to make some money out of this. Creators receive 55% of advertising revenue, with Facebook taking 45%.
Creators are eligible for the program as long as they have more than 10,000 followers on Facebook and have generated at least 30,000 one-minute views on videos that are at least three minutes long.
How successful has this platform been?
We all know Jay Shetty, the motivational coach. “My highest viewed video this year was 360 million views on one video. I have about 10 to 15 videos, over 100 million views each.”, says Shetty. Revenue wise Shetty says “To give you a few overalls, for me, I’ve been doing more than 6 figures per month, more than 7 figures over about 6 months” according to an article.
Shetty believes that Facebook Watch deserves credit for constantly notifying his users whenever he posts content. “My videos have done around 2 and a half billion views since February when I started using Watch.”
However, Jay Shetty is not a rule, but an exception for creators.
Now it’s important to remember that Facebook already has its built-in user base more than 2.2 billion people plus a $1 billion fund especially for original content for the platform. They’re ready to crown themselves in the fight with YouTube with such stats. However 2 years later, Facebook Watch is struggling.
Creators are complaining about many things, one of the quite significant problems includes the fact that they don’t earn that much through these videos. According to an article, a creator has even complained an episodic-show made less than $100 per video when it was distributed on multiple pages that total nearly five million. Another creator said that five recent videos, which have accumulated more than 6.4 million views, he’s earned “less than the price of a McDonald’s happy meal — after currency conversion.”
Moreover, with the stringent rules for approvals in the Creator Studio of Facebook, creators’ videos take extremely long to get approved. They require human approval thus it takes at least 24–48 hours for approvals, which is quite annoying for the creators as according to the Facebook algorithm, the first 24 hours is when the videos rack up the highest views — thus leading them to lose out on important monetization.
While looking at Facebook Watch’s original content, even with the critically acclaimed “Sorry For Your Loss” starring Elizabeth Olsen, has barely garnered 6 figured viewership for some of its episodes.
Further struggles Facebook Watch has seen is that users are not aware of this platform. 50% of all adult Facebook users have never even heard of Watch, while a further 24% have heard of it but never actually watched it, according to a study
According to most recent reports, 720 million people tune in to Watch programs monthly, and 140 million people spend at least one minute on Watch daily. On average, daily Watch visitors spend more than 26 minutes on the platform, according to this article. When compared to YouTube, with its billions of views a day, Facebook Watch is simply not growing fast enough.
An answer to why there is less earning from ad breaks is probably because users tend to not watch long enough to make it to the mid-roll ads.
Facebook also includes a unique tool called Watch party that allows users to create a “private screening room” where multiple people can watch videos simultaneously and chat about it. Facebook is not just creating another product through Facebook Watch, but also focusing on creating an experience for the user.
There is probably a lot more in store for Facebook Watch, seeing Facebook’s track record, but it is clear there is a lot of issues that need to be addressed to finally crown itself the winner against the war with YouTube (if you consider one to exist..)
Will people swipe right on Facebook Dating?
Everyone in the world is looking the Monica to their Chandler, Pam to their Jim or even, dare I say, their Robin to their Ted (worst series finale ever!). With the online dating market to hit $12 billion by the end of next year, it was a logical next step for Facebook to play cupid for the almost 3 billion people on their site.
The biggest competition for Facebook is the dating giant — Tinder, but what hurts Tinder is the lack of information. And well, we all know the depository of information Facebook has on its users, which Facebook has decided to use to its advantage…legally, for a change.
With Tinder, all you can rely on are those cheesy and corny bios, those very visible posed photos and some lame yet creative pick-up lines. Facebook’s data is so detailed that it aims to connect you through your Facebook groups, similar interests and events. With so many people on Facebook, it allows people to connect with many more people which Tinder may not have access to, and this is what it aims to capitalise on. Facebook also allows you to opt-out of connecting with people who are in your friends’ list so that you can avoid those awkward run-ins.
Facebook is still trying to recreate the experience of meeting new people through Facebook Dating, similar to Facebook Watch. One needs to remember that Facebook was created to make connections and Facebook Dating will do just that. Connecting with potential partners through social media networking sites is not new with the concept of “Sliding into DMs”, but now Facebook is just using this to their advantage.
One of the more appealing features of Facebook Dating is the “Secret Crush”. We’ve all felt that moment where we have a crush on someone we know, but let’s face it we don’t want things to get awkward. With the new age generation, connecting with someone once you’ve let an app know you have a crush on them and knowing through the same app they have a crush on you is, in fact, exhilarating (what a weird generation).
All this is great to know, but is there an agenda to this new platform? Well, let’s not forget the scandal that is Cambridge Analytica that led to #DeleteFacebook. Studies show that 44% of users ages 18 to 29 deleted the app from their phones in 2018. Facebook has lost 15 million US users since 2017. To operate Facebook Dating, there is no separate app, people would have to use the normal Facebook app thus getting thrust back into the ocean of this social media site.
This is a strategic play by Facebook. It is too early to tell how successful this platform will be, but people might come back from this Facebook hiatus if people do find love through this.
Facebook is ready to play one of the biggest “games”
In the past year, the video games industry has made $120 billion. For Facebook, entering this industry is a gold mine with the current user base. Launched in 2018, it is still 4th on the list of its competitors, which includes Twitch owned by Amazon (wow, they really are everywhere), YouTube owned by Google and Mixer owned by Microsoft.
Now Twitch is clearly the giant in this industry with almost 3 million streamers. It is the most popular and preferred video-gaming streaming platform. Reports say that between the first quarter of 2018 and the second quarter of 2019, Facebook Gaming’s number of active streamers surged 236% to an all-time high of 153,000.
So what sets Facebook Gaming apart? The ease of building a viewership on the site. Several gamers recently told Business Insider that they were making more money on Facebook Gaming than other platforms, since it was easier to build a bigger audience with fewer competing streams and direct access to Facebook’s sprawling social network.
Facebook offers two ways for gamers to generate revenue. First, gamers can be selected for Facebook’s “Level Up” program, which requires streamers to have over a hundred followers and stream content for at least four hours over two days within 14 days. Those streamers gain access to stars, where each star is worth 1 cent. Viewers can also opt for a subscription which is $4.99 per month. Twitch, YouTube, and Mixer offer similar tipping and subscription platforms.
Second, Facebook selects top-tier creators to become partners. They sign a contract, agree to stream quotas, and gain regular financial support from Facebook. Twitch offers a similar dual-tier platform for streamers, with affiliates at the lower level and partners at a higher level.
According to Vivek Sharma, Facebook’s Head of the Gaming Product, Facebook already has 100 million active users. The platform also includes 30,000 gaming groups that allow people to easily transition into using Facebook as a Gaming and Video Game streaming platform.
Many creators do feel that Facebook revenues are easier to get through ads shown on their Facebook videos. This product has a large potential as Facebook is already looking into launching a specific Facebook Gaming app. Facebook has been able to understand that this is another way to add to the way they show ads which contributes to 98% of their revenue.
What do we learn from all these new Facebook Products?
As mentioned several times before Facebook has had its fair share of run-ins with privacy problems, the recent one being with a page running fake Trump political ads. Many chose to raise their voice against Facebook for not banning such ads. They are trying to do as much damage control to bring back all the users that left after the 2016 scandal. And it may actually be working as Q3 2019 earnings show that Facebook’s grew monthly users by 2% to 2.45 billion.
It is also believed that the younger generation is flocking to other social media sites like Instagram because they feel Facebook is well, just boring. The way the newsfeed is organised on Facebook is not satisfying to many. They feel that Facebook just doesn’t offer the right kind of content anymore to not deem it “a waste of time”. According to this article, Facebook’s algorithm is simply just failing the users and requires more meaningful content to increase engagement, which is why Facebook is focusing on what the younger generation turns to the most: Videos, Gaming and Dating.
Moreover, Facebook wants to dethrone any and all competitors (watch your back YouTube) through all the products they are offering. Videos are becoming one of the largest consumed content. 82% of all consumer internet traffic will come from online videos by 2022. It would be foolish of Facebook to not use videos to their best advantage as a way of revenue earning.
Will it be successful? It’s possible. Nobody thought that a college kid would come to become one of the most successful people of his generation and look where we are — everyone wants to drop out of college because they could be the next Zuckerburg. Why wouldn’t they? He’s made a social network that is a powerhouse that one may never be able to leave behind.
No matter how many times we have complained about the privacy issues that in fact, shape this social media network — it is far from Zuckerberg’s kryptonite. Facebook is a superpower in itself and with the continuous launch of these services, it has proven it is here to stay.