Watching Me, Watching You: Facebook Creates Video Platform

Facebook announced on Aug. 9, 2017, its addition of a Facebook Watch feature: a new platform within the social media application serving as a “dedicated place [to] go watch videos.” Whereas videos were previously and frequently shared within newsfeeds, Watch intends to go beyond, turning the digital hangout space into a home for more original content.

It’s an unexpected move for the once youth-heavy space that now boasts a more all-age-encompassing population. We’ve seen Facebook grasp at ways to stay fresh, like adapting the “Story” concept from Instagram and Snapchat. We’ve seen it provide users “On This Day” reminders, copying TimeHop’s concept of making us nostalgic over past posts.

Watch seems to be a conglomeration of YouTube, Netflix and live TV. Some of the proposed content is meant to entertain, while others inform—and all intends to connect viewers to equally interested members of the community. Content will include episodic shows with recurring characters, live sporting events and daily “on-the-street” style videos.

Facebook Watch is an unexpected move for the once youth-heavy space that now boasts a more all-age-encompassing population.

Building a successful video platform, however, is no easy feat. Facebook will have to promise its paid or promoted curators that their content will receive more traction on Watch than on other video hosting websites. Simultaneously, they’ll have to convince Facebookers that Watch can provide a superior streaming experience.

G2 Crowd currently has profiles for 16 Video Hosting platforms where users have outlined their likes and dislikes within existing tools. From this information, we can gather significant insight into expectations viewers already have for a successful viewing experience.

  • Comments

    Multiple YouTube reviewers cite enmity in video comments sections, whether the video be a controversial take on climate change or an Ariana Grande music video. In its press release, Facebook Watch narrates its desire to be a place of community engagement, showing comments as the episode progresses, much like it does in Facebook Live. In order to keep users from shutting off a video due to hostile commentary, Watch should develop a plan for comment moderation.

  • Cost

    A review for Vimeo laments the cost of a plus account; a video hosting account that offers additional features such as advanced storage and privacy. Watch has little information currently available on cost, but it’s widely known that novice filmmakers rarely can afford to pay to release content. That’s a main selling point for YouTube; creators can upload content for free and let quality and viewership determine success.

    In order for Watch to really take off, it should plan to implement some sort of simple onboarding for amateur videographers, comedians, singers, hosts, etc. Whereas paid curators should have a promoted presence, video hosting sites succeed when amateurs feel they can develop their own exposure.

  • Search

    From a social media standpoint, Facebook is still not intuitive with search. I’ve met people at parties or networking events that I later couldn’t find due to a slight misspelling of their name or company. A huge component of video hosting software is its ability to help viewers find what they’re looking for.

    YouTube reviewers cite using the search bar as a method of finding exactly what they’re looking for. It’s difficult to come to a website and do guesswork. YouTube will help viewers find the correct spelling of a name or phrase or will give results in conjunction with the correct spelling. If Facebook Watch intends to have a steady viewership, they need to make it easy to search and find the correct content.

Facebook — the platform many thought would have gone the way of MySpace and Xanga by now — has resiliently maintained its position in the social media stratosphere. But if it’s going to adopt features of its competition, Facebook should do it right. These reviews from users of video hosting software show us a glimpse of the high expectations set forth for Watch.

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