The launch of a new watch by one of the tech giants is a bit of a yawn these days but back in August, social media behemoth Facebook launched its own Watch and we should perhaps all have sat up and taken a bit more notice.
Facebook is not entering the timepiece business however, unlike Apple. Facebook Watch is not something to tell the time with but rather something to spend your time doing and it is something that might make rival Google start to feel the heat.
Watch is Facebook’s new video platform for ongoing shows that follow a theme or storyline and it is available on mobile, laptop and desktop as well as through smart TVs.
Facebook says Watch “is a platform for all creators and publishers to find an audience, build a community of passionate fans, and earn money for their work”.
Content creators who make video exclusively for the new platform will be able to earn 55% of the revenue from adverts inserted in and around the shows.
As is usually the case, the new feature is only available in the US at present but is expected to be rolled out elsewhere.
Facebook recognises the social element of watching video and will show audience reactions alongside the content. Viewers will also be able to create watchlists so their friends can see what they are watching and also make sure they do not miss out on new episodes.
Video is huge for Facebook. In 2016, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said more than half a billion of its users were watching some 100 million hours of video on Facebook every day.
So how can the travel industry benefit?
It is clear that travel vloggers who are already producing regular, fresh content on YouTube will be interested in the new platform. The Great Cheese Hunt is an example of how that works for food-related travel.
Will vloggers be willing to produce original content for Facebook over YouTube? The money is certainly there and Facebook has also said it is “funding some shows that are examples of community-oriented and episodic video series”. Time for vloggers to get in touch with them I would say.
As for others in travel, there are clearly opportunities with Watch for destinations to tell ongoing stories about their inhabitants and visitors. Take a look at how Humans of New York tells the stories of its inhabitants through video, for example.
The success of Watch will depend on how well integrated it is with the rest of Facebook’s ecosystem. Initially, at least, it will sit as a separate tab but if successful, it may be hived off into its own dedicated app, as happened with Messenger (which this week launched a new dedicated platform for kids, called Messenger Kids).
With more than two billion active users, huge teams of very talented people and some $29 billion in cash reserves at the last count, Facebook can afford to experiment. With video becoming more and more popular, Watch is certain to do well and its launch is yet another sign that it is time for the travel sector to embrace video.