With Facebook continuing its push to boost its Watch video platform, The Social Network has re-outlined some key best practices for those seeking to monetize their video content, while also detailing its updated guidelines to limit the revenue generation potential of Pages which simply re-share viral content from other providers, without any of their own editorial input.
First off, on recommendations - earlier in the year, Facebook provided four key tips for those seeking to monetize their video content on the platform:
1. "Build audiences on Facebook surfaces where people seek out content"
I mean, given that they want to build their Watch platform, this seems a somewhat self-serving point, but Facebook has framed this as a way to encourage viewing "on surfaces that support repeat, loyal viewership". Which, in this case, would be Watch, on a Page or in a Group - basically anything but the News Feed.
And while it is a note that works towards Facebook's own goals, it does make sense - the News Feed is good for discovery, but these other options encourage actual engagement, which, in turn, is more likely to lead to repeat viewership - which is obviously key to maximizing your monetization potential.
2. "Set and fulfill the creative expectations of viewers"
Facebook's point here is that consistency is key - if you want people to keep coming back to check out your stuff, you need to be consistent in your style and presentation, so that your audience knows what to expect, and can build familiarity. Facebook says that when the audience knows what to expect with each new video, they'll be more likely to return and view more episodes.
3. "Establish a release cadence"
In some ways, this is an extension of the previous note, but publishing to a consistent schedule is another way to ensure people become repeat viewers, by setting an expectation as to when they can come back and find new material.
As per Facebook:
"A set publishing schedule encourages audiences to consistently return to watch the next episode, while posting related videos, photos, or text posts helps to keep your fans engaged between episodes and seasons."
4. "Create an active experience"
This last point is key, particularly in the case of Facebook-originated video. Various reports have shown that a growing number of TV viewers are now doing so while also browsing social media, where they're also sharing their thoughts in real-time.
Facebook video lets you combine the two, giving viewers an interactive option, a way to participate in what they're seeing. By utilizing that capacity, you can help establish stronger connection with your audience.
"For example, Riddle Me This, an interactive brain teaser show, sources potential brain teasers from its 60,000+ fan group. And taking a unique spin on the traditional ‘sports talk show’, ESPN First Take has hosts set a weekly topic and invite fans, via the official group, to submit their own video commentary on that topic with the fan from the top submission joining Friday's episode to debate directly with an ESPN host."
These video tips make sense, and will definitely help those looking to create repeat, episodic video content, with a view towards monetization. In addition, Facebook's also expanded its test of pre-roll video ads to search results (if a person searches for a show, a pre-roll may play when they select the episode to watch), while it also continues to test its show preview trailer format, which helps people discover episodes in News Feed.
"When a viewer taps on the trailer, we’ll play a short ad before moving them to view the full episode in Watch. Partners will also be able to boost this format, reaching new audiences and driving more predictable tune-in while still being able to monetize."
These options have been in testing for some time, and will continue to expand as Facebook broadens its video focus.
And at the same time, Facebook's also now looking to expand its enforcement against Pages which mainly re-share content from other sources, without adding their own spin or commentary.
As explained by Facebook:
"Pages primarily distributing videos of repurposed clips from other sources with limited editorialization do not foster engaged, loyal communities in the way that Pages that produce and publish original, thematic or episodic videos do."
Facebook first announced action against these Pages back in April, but it has now updated its guidelines to better police such tactics.
Basically, those Pages that are just re-sharing the latest viral videos from Reddit are likely to have their monetization potential limited, reducing their incentive to post. That is, of course, unless they opt to add their own commentary or additional work to them. Which they probably won't.
How, exactly, Facebook's penalization process will work in this regard is not clear, but Facebook does note that repeat abuse could result in Pages losing access to monetization features altogether.
As noted, Facebook shared much of this information earlier in the year, but the update to its video monetization guidelines in regards to non-original content will give the platform increased scope to remove incentives for those re-sharing viral posts, at least from an immediate revenue perspective. That said, many of the Pages sharing such content will still benefit from a distribution boost via the algorithm, so its not exactly clear what impact this action will have, but it is interesting to note that Facebook is well aware of this, and is working on enforcement options.