Facebook plays matchmaker for creators, brands

Do the new changes help position Facebook as a YouTube competitor?

It’s about to become a little easier for creators to make money and gain viewers via Facebook, which is testing new tools for advertisers that want to pair with online video makers.

While Facebook creators are already able to reach out for branded content opportunities themselves or through influencer networks, the platform wants to become a part of that connection process.

It’s introducing a system that allows creators to set up a portfolio highlighting their areas of expertise, allowing brands to search for collaborators for their campaigns.

The social network is also testing a patron model similar to Twitch that allows fans to contribute directly to a creator by setting up a monthly payment in exchange for “perks” (such as a badge highlighting their status as a supporter).

All these changes are still in the trial phase with select creators, but are being tested globally.

Jonathan Davids, founder of influencer marketing firm Influicity, said that while these changes are “definitely a step in the right direction” and will please creators, it will take a lot to de-throne YouTube as the top destination for creators and the ad dollars that flow along with them.

“Challenging YouTube [is] a much bigger battle,” said Davids. “It will be a while before we know if this is seriously a threat to YouTube’s dominance.”

Facebook has increased its focus on video in the last several years, with each change prompting media to speculate if Facebook is becoming a “YouTube competitor.” Despite YouTube’s dominance in the video space, Davids has pointed out that creators aren’t always happy with YouTube’s changes. For example, in the fallout from recent scandals including massive concerns about brand safety, YouTube tightened restrictions on how channels could be monetized (introducing a minimum subscriber count of 1,000 and changing the watch-time from 10,000 all-time hours to 4,000 in the last 12 months). Some influencers saw revenue drops of up to 30%.

But YouTube has been virtually the only platform that allowed creators to make revenue directly from display ads at significant scale. YouTube still boasts one billion global users, with more than one billion hours of video consumed per day. Davids said YouTube’s dominance will be a tough nut to crack.

But the changes will at least give creators more options, he said. “Clearly, creators need to make a living. Connecting with brands is certainly a kickstart for many up-and-coming creators.”

The biggest change, said Davids, is the discoverability elements of the new branded content feature. “Getting your content noticed on Facbook has always been a challenge for creators, since the news feed is so filtered,” he said.

Facebook is still not testing pre- and mid-roll ad options for creators unless they are affiliated with Facebook Watch, its premium video offering not yet available in Canada (creators have to apply in order to create content for Facebook Watch).