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Facebook and chill

Intern-al Issues is a fortnightly blog written by our Intern Sean that looks at the latest issues and trends in digital marketing. Enjoy!

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Facebook is intending to spend up to $1 billion in the next year on original video content.

This is quite a bold move for the social media giant who are typically quite reserved about spending large amounts of money on content.

Their spending doesn’t quite stack up against Netflix who splurged $6 billion in 2017, but Facebook are officially throwing their hat in the ring.

During a recent interview, Mark Zuckerberg described Facebook as becoming a video first company. His comment got me thinking about how his vision could potentially change our Facebook experience. How would this video format work? Would Facebook just compile episodes in my news feed, much like they do now with the pages that I follow?

The last thing I want is an episode of Orange is the New Black to begin auto-playing as I scroll through my news feed, followed by Narcos, Stranger Things or House of Cards. I don’t think I would ever put my phone down.

It is no easy task to keep 2 billion active users engaged but video is probably the best bet. It was evident last year that Facebook were starting to get serious about becoming a video first platform when they spent $50 million on deals with companies such as Buzz Feed and Mashable. The deals were to create content to be used on Facebook’s live stream service. This was executed in the hope of promoting user engagement, and it worked. Buzz Feed’s live video of two people wrapping elastic bands around a watermelon until it exploded was viewed nearly 11 million times.

If you are a fan of a Facebook page, and that page begins live streaming, you are automatically notified. So if you follow Buzzfeed after enjoying the watermelon video and Buzzfeed begin live streaming again, you would become notified. You stop what you’re doing and open Facebook.

Very clever.

Now, it’s not like Facebook were struggling beforehand with video activity by their users. Their combined users were clocking up 100 million hours of video in their daily news feed. But it is evident that Facebook can target and engage with its users far greater with its live steam service.

Facebook realised if they can incorporate the success of live video user engagement with their own original video content, they would stand to make a lot of money through advertisements. YouTube digital media ad revenue is worth close to $11 billion annually!

It would be kind of cool I suppose, to watch an episode on Facebook and then discuss it in real time with other people. We already do that to some extent, just across different platforms. For example, when a new episode of Game of Thrones is illegally downloaded viewed on Foxtel, Facebook is gloriously inundated with GOT memes, statuses, videos and blogs about what popped off in that episode.

I think it will be very interesting over the next couple of years for Facebook. Facebooks mantra is “it’s free and always will be” so it’s safe to say we can rule out a subscription fee for video content. This leaves them no choice but to ram advertisements down our throats. Honestly, I would much rather pay for a Netflix account and be advertisement free rather than watch free videos with advertisements shown. I know Mark Zuckerberg is keen on world domination but maybe when it comes to original video content – Netflix and chill has him beat.

Sean Huxley
Sean graduated from Murdoch University in 2017 and went from intern to Account Manager with Coffey & Tea. He also contributes to Social Media Perth.