Facebook has long been the envy of big social media firms. Its advertising revenue is colossal and its market share is substantial, with nearly 80% of the world’s online population of 3.2 billion using the platform.
In recent years, however, it has become increasingly clear that digital video—the mainstay of social media rivals like YouTube and Twitch—is quickly becoming the most lucrative outlet for marketers. It is estimated that by 2019, the total spend of digital video advertising will exceed $14 billion, and with video constituting 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2022 (a four-fold increase from 2017), it’s no wonder that Facebook is strategizing to compete in its own way.
Facebook began addressing this issue by introducing Facebook Live in 2015 to compete with existing platforms such as Twitch, YouTube Live, and its own Instagram Live. Since then, it has gone all in; offering millions to creators and brands to build a catalogue of content for Facebook Live and attempting to muscle in on the booming trade of influencer marketing.
After a tumultuous year for the company, it is seeking to hit its stride again and start engaging with its consumers in a more positive way. In its latest effort to keep up with other platforms popular with creators, Facebook has sought to invest further in its creator community by announcing several new tools and features for them. In other words, Facebook wants to make it clear that fostering a creator community is more important than strictly promoting advertisers.
Facebook now grants the opportunity for fans to support Facebook creators with a monthly subscription service—similar to subs on YouTube, Twitch, or Patreon. Fans will have access to premium content and be given a badge to display their support. In addition to this, Facebook is also introducing an opt-in experience which rewards ‘top fans’ with badges depending on how much they engage with content through comments, shares, and reactions.
Facebook previously rolled out a new algorithm this year to placate criticisms of its treatment of consumers. Intended to prioritize the direct network of users and reduce the visibility of publishers and influencers, it has taken a hit, with the time consumers spend using the platform dropping 5%, or 50 million hours a day total. In response, they are doubling down on their creator community.
Facebook heavily alluded to encouraging its creators to ‘use video to bring their communities together around common passions’ earlier this year. Then it launched its extensive Branded Content Matching, an influencer marketing platform designed to streamline the process of connecting creators and influencers with marketers to create sponsored content for their groups. It hopes that by investing in these initiatives and demonstrating that creator content is just as profitable on Facebook as on other platforms, they can capitalize on the influencer marketing industry’s rise and not be left behind.
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Given to a page’s most active fans—that is, watching the page’s videos, liking, commenting, reacting, or sharing its posts. Users of Twitch will be familiar with the badge system, albeit Facebook has sought to keep it free. The feature is available to pages using the video template with 10,000 or more fans.
Followers of a page are prompted to ‘Become a Supporter’ for a creator in the Newsfeed:
By clicking the ‘Support Now’ button, users see:
Becoming a supporter allows followers to pay a recurring monthly fee of $4.99 to $29.99, displaying a publicly visible badge to showcase the user’s support:
Exclusive Creator Content
Supporters also gain access to exclusive content from the creator:
Exclusive Merch Discounts
Those who become a supporter get exclusive discounts:
After the implementation of its new algorithm and subsequent discontent from members of the creator community who lost out, there’s no doubt that Facebook’s recent moves this year indicate that the company is headed into influencer marketing in a big way.
Creators on YouTube dominate the video content-production market, influencers on Twitch earn millions, and users spend more time on average every day on either platform than on Facebook. Facebook has lagged behind in being able to effectively monetize its creators’ content, relying heavily on traditional advertising instead. While effective and massively lucrative, Facebook is missing out on the kind of engagement that other platforms have so successfully cultivated between creators and fans.
Creators will flock to the platforms that offer the best communities and the highest earning potential. Facebook is keen to ensure that creators continue to use the network and maybe even attract some newcomers to the site through its new subscription model. While unable to offer its creators the AdSense program which benefits YouTube Creators heavily by monetizing their channels through the scheme, Facebook’s creators will rely on the willingness of fans to pay a monthly fee. This may prove to be a hurdle.
Should they be successful, however, the earning potential of monetizing the creator community is immense. Before that ambition is realized, Facebook can only hope that its latest bid to stay relevant with its 2.3 billion users is enough to deter its creators from jumping ship, and—perhaps even more importantly—encourage fans to support creators and engage with their content.