Facebook’s Native Video Play

Ours is an industry of disruption. It’s volatile and there are few significant companies that offer stability that marketers, in particular healthcare marketers, can rely on for performance and persistency. We are now on the verge of a tectonic shift and broader disruption with digital video.

This year, Facebook has introduced inline video into their timeline interface. The timeline, available to all users on desktop and mobile is familiar to all Facebook users and the user experience a majority of Facebook’s users have. The introduction of video into the timeline is significant. With Facebook commanding more than 40 minutes a day1 for the average Internet user, this new immediate exposure to video for content creators is frictionless and opens the opportunity for video delivery exponentially.

One of the key tactics that Facebook uses to engage users and drive up key performance metrics is “auto-play” video. This is a practice that starts video playing, sans volume, without initiation by the user. The practice causes some discussion about Facebook’s video view statistics, but there is still little argument about the massive audience of the social giant or the exposure a timeline view can provide a brand.

The importance of Facebook’s new focus on video is even larger than video being served seamlessly to the social network’s users. Their newly purchased subsidiary Instagram, also serves video, auto play, inline for its users as well.

The combined effect of Facebook’s efforts in its channels has shaken the online video giant YouTube on its throne. This past month video views on Facebook have surpassed YouTube. As a single metric this can be deceiving: Facebook’s video architecture for both their timeline and within Instagram auto-play all videos. Even without a surpassing of actual views, the impact of native video playback (need to define native earlier) is a massive change that marketers need to be aware of and begin to alter their strategy for.

What does this really mean to marketers? The practical change is to post natively within the channel you are communicating in. Facebook (as are many other social networks) is rewarding users and brands who are using their own built-in tools and services to post and interface with communities. The reward manifests itself in a stronger presence in user’s timelines and being more heavily favored by the algorithm that is used to serve content to end users on each visit.

The argument for native video hosting is strengthened by multi-video interfaces, “channel-like” integration, and seamless mobile integration. Facebook is launching a playlist functionality2 that gives brands a new platform to deliver multiple videos, manage comments, metrics, and paid promotion in a single platform-one that is already installed on over 71% of smartphones (a 18% lead over nearest app: YouTube)2.

There is a caveat: Building a brand footprint on a 3rd party platform comes with risks. Social networks are a volatile space with frequent changes and opaque formulas for users. A winning formula, as the community that you engage with, is a rapidly changing entity. This is the challenge of digital marketing-and adapting to the disruption, being ahead of it, will yield success. Consider relevance and how you can better serve your audience by adapting your digital content to be more meaningful, useful, and accessible. Most of all, create content that the channel audience will appreciate and engage with.