Facebook, to expand its user base, is focusing on social video, a category that has grown tremendously over the past couple of years because of the rising popularity of apps like TikTok.
Facebook is focusing on how to “leverage the power of communities, friends and families coming together around video, and therefore the future we see us around social media...making it easier for communities to watch together, making it easier for fans to engage together...The product is at a very early stage, we are testing and experimenting, specifically social video”, said Mohan.
According to Wochit, a video-creation platform for media companies and brands, “a social video strategy is one focused on connecting with viewers through unique stories and original content. The goal isn’t to drive a viewer directly to a subscription or sale. Rather, it is to grow your audience and foster their loyalty through familiarity with your brand”.
In addition to Instagram and WhatsApp, both Facebook-owned companies and used by their user base for video sharing, Facebook’s Watch product, launched in 2017 in the US and other markets last year, is yet to find large-scale traction as an alternative to Netflix or Amazon Prime, and, of course, TikTok.
Mohan, however, insists competition is not with streaming services or TikTok.
“We don't see ourselves as one more me too proposition. We see ourselves as there's a unique opportunity to chart the future of social video with India at the heart of it. And that's where we are seeing Watch evolving to while still recognizing that it's early days. Having said that, you know, more than 700 million people already use watch around the world,” Mohan said.
Facebook Watch is a combination of original programming and user generated content, and according to the social media firm, had more than 720 million visitors per month and 140 million were spending at least one minute on the service per day.
The numbers came under scrutiny from analysts and advertisers in the US, but Facebook has continued to push original shows like Netflix. Some of the more popular series on the Watch product are “Sorry for your Loss,” “Red Table Talk,” and “SKAM Austin”.
It also recently announced a partnership with Viacom International Media Networks to launch eight original short-form series. It also launched and interactive game show called “Confetti” in India in June, produced by Fremantle.
With social video, Facebook is trying to bring more people together to watch things they are interested in, at the same time. The Watch programming is one area, while another is getting people connected on Facebook to watch the same thing consecutively.
As an example, multiple relatives could watch a family member’s dance performance together on a Facebook video, sitting in different parts of the world.
Facebook’s recent partnership with International Cricket Council, where it won the exclusive clip rights for the Indian subcontinent between now and 2023, including the 2023 World Cup in India is another push towards expanding social video.
The partnership, according to Mohan is “an example of our commitment to invest, including in video, and with a particular focus on India.”
It also plans to leverage its investments in augmented reality and virtual reality to make videos more engaging on the platform, he added.