The future is video. At least, that’s what Facebook seems to think: in addition to the creation of a new tab solely for video on the Facebook app, the social media behemoth is reportedly developing an app for televisions and set-top boxes (like Apple TV). Add Facebook’s recent interest in creating its own original content, and Facebook’s strategy for the future becomes clear: invest in video.
In Facebook’s Q4 earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg described the goal for Facebook’s in-app video tab as being “to make it so that when people want to watch videos or want to keep up to date with what’s going on with their favorite show… they can come to Facebook and go to a place knowing that that’s going to show them all the content that they’re interested in.” He also acknowledged that this is “a pretty different intent than why people come to Facebook today.”
Eye on the prize
Here’s what’s happening: Facebook is looking to beat YouTube at their own game. It’s as simple as that. Just as copying the functions of Snapchat on Instagram has hurt Snapchat’s metrics, we predict that the dedicated video tab on the Facebook app will discourage mobile users from switching over to YouTube.
By shifting strategies to focus on video content, Facebook is moving further and further away from its original core business of being a social media platform. Despite being loath to admit it, Facebook is a media company now, a designation that gives their potential foray into television much more weight.
A television presence would give Facebook access to a new medium as well as more advertising dollars. It depends, however, upon how effectively Facebook is able to differentiate from YouTube — if the same content will be hosted on both, or whether Facebook will strike exclusive deals with content creators. At the moment, the company’s head of global creative strategy, Ricky Van Veen, is reaching out to TV producers and studios in an attempt to test the creative waters; however, YouTube has a significant head start, and a dedicated viewer base that is unlikely to jump ship quickly.
Part of the reason for the explosive growth and continued dominance of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and other goliaths is down to the fact that each platform has its own spin. YouTube is for videos; Instagram is for pictures; Twitter is for the quick spread of news. Facebook is increasingly looking to upend this equilibrium by replicating the successful features of other platforms, whether it’s producing branded masks for its messenger app or introducing live video. Facebook isn’t going to wipe out the competition over night, but in the meantime, it’s going to give it its best shot.
For more information on the future of video and social media, check out Firebrand Group’s Orange Paper on “The Future of Video.”