Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is dead set on its ongoing expansion into video. The company officially launched its Watch platform last August, and much of the initial focus is on seeding professionally produced content with high production value, although Facebook would inevitably transition to user-generated video content (which Facebook just inked music licensing deals for).
The social network is going to need more video-oriented talent for the big push.
Two new video hires
Facebook has now hired two video execs to help spearhead its video strategy. Matthew Henick is leaving BuzzFeed, where he previously served as the head of BuzzFeed Studio. In a Facebook post announcing his move, Henick says he will "lead global video content strategy and planning" at the social networking giant. Henick says he has "always thought of Facebook as a storytelling platform at its core" and that the "future of storytelling is social."
Mike Bidgoli is leaving Pinterest to join Facebook as head of product for Watch, Bidgoli announced in a Medium post. Bidgoli notes, "Facebook Watch has a vision to not just entertain, but to also connect people, spark conversations, and foster community." The distinction between entertainment and social interactions largely echoes CEO Mark Zuckerberg's recent comments about "meaningful social interactions."
Shifting away from passive consumption
In Facebook's fourth-quarter earnings release, His Zuckness argued that passive video consumption is detrimental to well-being, and the solution is to encourage "meaningful social interactions." Facebook had tweaked its algorithms in the fourth quarter to give viral videos lower priority, resulting in 50 million fewer hours being spent on Facebook every day. Here's Zuckerberg on the call:
So far this year, we've already announced a couple of important updates. The first is prioritizing meaningful social interactions over passive consumption of content. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being. When we use social media to connect with people, that correlates with long-term measures of well-being that you'd expect, like happiness and health. But passively watching videos or reading articles may not have those same effects.
On our last earnings call, I said that video done well can bring people together, but too often today, watching video is just a passive experience. To shift that balance, I said that we were going to focus on videos that encourage meaningful social interaction.
Now Facebook's task will be not only to help create video content that is engaging, but also hope that it's engaging enough for users to actively interact with that content and with each other. That's much easier said than done.