What Does Facebook’s Investment In Reels Mean For Competitors Like TikTok & Twitch?
Facebook is a dominant force in social media, reflected in the fact that its one of the most valued entities on the planet. But it is also true that other platforms have recently created waves with innovative approaches, especially in how they have enabled content creators to thrive on their platforms.
Helping creators successfully monetize their content is one of the hottest trends in social media, seemingly perfected by platforms like TikTok and Twitch. Facebook is undoubtedly late to the party, but announcing that it will invest $1 billion into creators is a definite statement of intent. In some ways, it could help offset some of the delays in encouraging creators on their platforms.
Let’s be honest; Facebook has seen better days. Mired in controversy, it’s a platform that is increasingly losing its connection to the younger generations. To a lesser extent, the investment in Instagram (and Whatsapp) proves quite an intelligent decision. Instagram has positioned itself well and is a genuine player in the field of new-age social media platforms.
TikTok’s problems also opened a door for Facebook to get into the shorter video format with Reels, which has also achieved moderate success. Influencers have been thriving on Instagram; the best part is that it engages a broader range of audiences than TikTok.
Short video formats and monetization solutions for content creators are perhaps two of the more widespread changes in social media in the past few years. Following TikTok’s success, and a host of other platforms coming up, YouTube launched Shorts and started a program where creators are paid based on specific criteria. Snapchat also has a similar plan where creators get rewarded for hitting certain benchmarks.
With all this in the background, Facebook’s announcement about investing $1 billion in creators on Reels and Facebook has quite a significant impact on the entire spectrum of social media platforms.
Let’s take a look at this in some detail and see how this would impact the high-flying TikTok and up-and-coming platform Twitch.
What Is Facebook’s Plan?
It would be wise to analyze what Facebook is planning before discussing its impact on the other platforms. So here we go. The plan covers Facebook and Instagram and includes various monetization opportunities for creators.
On Facebook, there are a couple of options that will catch a creator’s eye. The first is in-stream ads, with creators getting a share of the ad revenue should they choose to opt-in. Facebook will place ads onto their live streams, which they will be paid for.
The second announcement covers the stars challenge, which has been expanded to include certain gaming content creators. These creators will be eligible for a monthly bonus from Facebook if they hit certain targets per the stars’ milestones. This would be an additional incentive for game streamers to consider Facebook as a more viable platform.
A slew of new creator payout programs on Instagram were announced, including IGTV and Reels, their TikTok-like short videos module. Creators who sign up for IGTV ads will get a one-time bonus and a share of the revenue from the ads shown on their streams. There are also certain bonuses associated with badges. Depending on hitting certain milestones in badges, like going live with another account, the creators will be eligible for certain bonus payouts.
Reels summer bonus is another program that rewards creators for the great content. Based on the performance of the reels they create, these creators will get bonuses – a direct reward for creating great content that can be a significant motivator.
These changes in Instagram also follow their announcement regarding pivoting from photos to focus more on video, creators, messaging, and shopping. This is undoubtedly the most radical shift in Instagram’s approach since its 2010 launch.
What Does This Mean For Other Platforms and Influencers?
If there is one thing Facebook is good at, it is monetization. They have made it virtually impossible to generate massive organic interactions without promotions. It does seem that there is a growing understanding among the Facebook top brass that they cannot monopolize these profits for long. They need to bring creators into the fold and enable them to grow too. Other platforms have been showing this consistently over the last 2-3 years.
In general, this is most certainly a way to attract new content creators to the platform and enable those who create content on the platform to do it better. But there are some further layers to this too. It is also about remaining relevant in the years to come, with social media evolving every day with new formats. Facebook has always been quick to adopt tried and tested formats on its platforms. This is merely the latest in line.
Looking specifically at other platforms, here’s how this is likely to impact TikTok and Twitch.
TikTok has been the undisputed leader of the short video format for a while now. Reels and Facebook’s native version of short videos have started to appear on our feeds more frequently these days, but they have mostly been inundated with reposts from TikTok. So, in this regard, this announcement may not worry TikTok all that much.
One of the advantages Instagram holds is that it is, in general, a more popular platform than TikTok and also caters to a wider audience. In terms of monthly active users, Facebook is miles ahead with 2.85 billion users. Instagram has 1.38 billion, and TikTok is currently at 732 million. This disparity can play to Instagram’s and Facebook’s advantage. There are more users and hence a bigger audience, which is an attractive prospect to any creator.
However, TikTok’s most significant issue is still their legal and regulatory concerns that are likely to continue at least in the short term. The proposed sale of their US operation seems to be in limbo. This, along with data privacy concerns, is going to be a critical challenge. TikTok is certainly going to be a formidable competitor to Instagram and Facebook. The battle lines are being drawn, and we have to wait and see how this evolves.
Twitch has made a name for itself in the live streaming domain and has been a massive hit with the gaming community. It has recently diversified a lot and now has streamers from domains other than gaming. Twitch is leading by quite a considerable margin in terms of the number of total hours watched for game streaming in Q4 of 2020, accounting for nearly 66% of the total hours. Facebook accounts for just 11%, and there’s Youtube in the mix at 23%.
When you look at these numbers, Facebook’s investments are not likely to worry them a lot. But there is a flip side to it too. As mentioned in the case of TikTok, Facebook eclipses most other social media platforms in terms of the number of monthly active users. This is quite attractive for game streamers. If Facebook can give streamers viable monetization options that are not just by invitation only, it may become an attractive platform. With the number of live stream watchers booming, it’s shaping up to be a tightly fought affair between Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook.
Influencers and Creators
Well, good news for the creators and influencers, I guess. They have some dollars coming their way, courtesy of Facebook. Having more platforms with similar monetization capabilities will be a boon for creators already finding success on one platform. This will also spur a lot of new streamers into action, and we could be seeing more original content on Facebook and Instagram.
Instagram is already one of the most popular platforms for influencer marketing. This is due to many different factors—the ability to create and nurture a highly engaged community of followers being the most important of all. These additional benefits will likely add value to the creator’s efforts and give rise to a new generation of original content creators on Instagram with diverse focus areas.
One thing is amply clear. Facebook recognizes the importance of content creators in the next phase of growth for social media. This is not a new shift—there have been clear signs before. This billion-dollar investment is certainly a way of saying, “yes, we see value in what you do.”
It is also true that this investment is not sustainable, and it is not something that will continue in the long term in this manner. This may be a way for Facebook to attract new content creators onto its platforms and boost engagement numbers that have not been as stellar as one would expect. TikTok, Twitch, Snapchat, and various other platforms have essentially been chipping away at the market, and this is a way to reverse some of those effects.
Content creation is a highly involved process and, for a lot of creators, it is one of their primary sources of income. They are looking for platforms and, in this omnichannel world, no one is restricted to just one platform. Facebook’s investments signal a further shift in their approach, and content creators will indeed be paying more attention.