Facebook isn't aiming to be the next video site. It's aiming to be everything to everyone.
It's been an interesting couple of weeks for avid Facebook users. For some time now the media has speculated that Facebook is taking over our lives (if you don't believe me, Google it). The latest step toward world domination takes the form of Facebook email. Facebook's decision to change existing user email addresses to @facebook.com whether they'd signed up for it or not demonstrates that the social network is leaving no stone unturned in its mission to firmly integrate itself into daily consumer life.
Some of its efforts are proving most interesting to digital marketers, particularly those who have recently questioned the value of Facebook display ads based on the actions of their peers. Regardless of how large a role Facebook advertising currently plays in your campaign, your brand must maintain a presence on the site. The more options available to you, the better.
For this reason, marketers are abuzz about a partnership between Facebook and Showtime that's making cable television programming available to users on Facebook itself. On Showtime's Facebook page, users can opt to watch the season premieres of "Weeds" and "Episodes," along with complete episodes of "Dexter," "Nurse Jackie," and other Showtime programs.
Showtime isn't the first company to make such a move. For over a year now UFC: Ultimate Fighting Championship has been streaming on Facebook prelim matches and fights not previously available through live pay-per-view TV. Fans who make the effort to "like" the page can see the bouts, which for UFC can increase not just "likes" but the size of its pay-per-view audience.
Interest in longer online videos is on the rise. According to a new study by VideoMind/Ooyala, long-form video content accounted for over half of all online video watched in Q1 2012. Similarly, comScore reports that when the nearly 85 percent of U.S Internet users that watch video online sit down at their laptop or tablet screen, they'll view an average of 6.1 minutes of content.
Doesn't that level of dedication to online video present an opportunity for brands like Facebook to provide even more viewing channels? Conflating current consumer behavior as it relates to Facebook usage with online video usage isn't such a stretch. Studies show that out of every seven minutes consumers spend online one of those is spent engaging with Facebook, and the average time spent on the site per user is 14 minutes per day.
Consumers may already be accustomed to relying on YouTube, Hulu, and TV network sites for their long-form online video content, primetime and otherwise. But as they're already spending an inordinate amount of time on the leading social site, doesn't it follow that they'd be interested in hanging around a little longer to watch a video or two?
If they are, advertisers could be in a good position indeed. We're always looking for ways to engage potential customers with our video content, most of which is 15 to 30 seconds (as used in video ads) or short-form (under 10 minutes). That isn't to say we don't appreciate the value of long-form video, or have it at our disposal. Advertisers able and willing to offer exclusive video content through Facebook stand to expand their audience and "likes," but there's more to this strategy than eyeballs alone. There's an incredible amount of value to placing video content on a site that's designed to facilitate sharing. That extra step of visiting Twitter to share one's thoughts on recently viewed content is eliminated. Because consumers can share, post, and discuss without leaving Facebook, social chatter surrounding the brand they've just engaged with stands to increase.
Facebook isn't aiming to be the next video site. It's aiming to be everything to everyone - a place where consumers can have all of the same experiences they've traditionally had elsewhere on the web. If advertising brands are equally smart about infusing their Facebook pages with added value, they too stand to benefit from the way consumers react.
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Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.
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