The Facebook Reign Over Video: 5 New Features To Know

Posted by Hilary Kay on Feb 24, 2015 11:30:00 AM

Topics: Publishing Platforms, Video Trends


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has declared that in five years, Facebook will be primarily video content. What was born as a social network for Harvard students has grown into a multi-use site with 1.39 billion monthly users. From the introduction of Timeline, to majorly improving the Newsfeed, Facebook has undergone many changes and added new features over the years. But the most recent changes on the site are here to stay, and have lead to the noticeable uptick in videos. Consumer uploaded videos, video ads, brand and media videos all flood our newsfeeds. If Zuckerberg is right (which he usually is when it comes to Facebook), then this is just the beginning of the site’s boom in video.

Surge in Video

Facebook receives over 3 billion video views every day. The site generates 59% of global video shares, and 61% of Americans name it as their favorite network for video sharing. Videos uploaded directly to Facebook outnumbered those that were uploaded from Youtube for the first time last November. Video has also proven to be the content most likely to reach audiences on Facebook. Average organic reach for videos is 8.7%, while statuses is 5.8%, links 5.3%, and photos at a surprising low of 3.7%. Most still see Youtube as king of video, but Facebook may be next in line for the throne.

Potential Partnerships with Publishers

So what would the video realm be like under the reign of Facebook? Based on recent discussion between Facebook execs and the publishing community, it may be more harmonious than one might think. Facebook has approached media publishers about future partnership models. Chris Cox, Facebook’s chief product officer, has lead these discussions. He explains that if publishers agree to host their video content on the site, Facebook could improve video delivery and audience reach in return.  Cox recognizes that reading news on a mobile device is not preferable, and hopes to create a better option for news consumption via videos on Facebook.  

Some media publishers expressed initial concern that Facebook’s end goal is to make their native websites irrelevant; however, considering the recent improvements made to its video platform suggests that Facebook is dedicated to developing a true partnership. With the surge of video, brands and media publishers must familiarize themselves with the ins and outs of Facebook video in order to stay competitive on the site. Here are five must-know features Facebook has added to its video platform.

1. Native Video Player

Facebook has made several changes to its native video player that have successfully increased the number of direct uploads to the site. Native video means it was uploaded directly to Facebook, rather than linking to a different hosting site such as Youtube. Native Facebook videos now include a view counter, which is key for brands and media publishers to track how well their videos perform. View counts factor in to where videos fall within the newsfeed, and therefore will affect audience reach. Ad Age also reported that native videos are getting better organic reach on Facebook than videos that are linked to a different host site.

2. Call-to-Action Button

Facebook introduced the Call-to-Action button for business pages in December as a way for businesses to bring their objectives to the forefront. Options for the call-to-action button include Book Now, Contact Us, Use App, Play Game, Shop Now, Sign Up and Watch Video. Call-to-actions can link to an external website or another page on Facebook. The ‘Watch Video’ option will drive consumers to further engage with business pages, and is an obvious push for businesses to utilize the video platform.

3. Autoplay

Facebook autoplay has been live on both desktop and mobile for over two years, but its presence has just now become more apparent with the increase in native video uploads. With autoplay, native Facebook videos will start playing soundlessly as users scroll through their newsfeed. Facebook’s Chris Cox said during talks with media publishers that autoplay videos have been a “massive success”. Autoplay gives brands and publishers a leg up in grabbing their audience’s attention. Viewers will be exposed to a few seconds of their video, and if the content is compelling they may stop to watch the rest.
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4. Featured Video

Featured Video was added to business pages early this year, and is another tool to help brands and publishers best utilize their video content. One video can be selected as featured and will show as a larger thumbnail on your page. The featured video can be changed at any time and can be a new upload or an existing video. Featured videos allow businesses to highlight an introductory video, an example of their best work, or a trending topic in order to better engage their audience. Some media publishers have already taken advantage of this tool, including BBC, Buzzfeed, Vice, The Washington Post (and Wibbitz).

5. Video Playlists

Video Playlists also launched this year, allowing businesses to group videos into specific news topics or categories like sports and entertainment. Brands and media publishers can manage video content by hiding previously posted clips. CNN is one of the only publishers currently using video playlists to its full potential. They created playlists including “#Ferguson” and “New Year’s Eve Celebrations”, but could even add more as they build up video content. Video playlists will help users weed through the massive amounts of content on Facebook so they can find the videos that interest them most. This will support businesses as they strive to gain more traction with video.

Facebook may not claim king over all digital video, but for brands and media publishers it will be the premium platform to distribute their video content. The advanced features added to Facebook’s video player improve the video experience for both users and businesses. Audiences will benefit from more engaging, easily accessible content while businesses can better organize their videos, reach target audiences, and distribute on an engaging mobile platform. Facebook is encouraging brands and media publishers to create video exclusively for the site, raising the question of what might come in future partnerships with Facebook. Paid original content? Ad revenue share? Exciting opportunity lies on the road ahead for all parties involved.