Netflix may be dominating the on-demand streaming video market, but Facebook’s latest feature for groups is trying to muscle in on the action. A Watch Party allows admins to host live or pre-recorded video sessions so that members can watch and comment on content at the same time to create a shared viewing experience. Multiple videos can be synced up by a group’s administrator or moderator, who can also choose people to co-host the session with them to keep the Watch Party going. Viewers can suggest videos, with hosts being notified of suggestions to be approved (or rejected as the case may be).
There are a couple of limitations, though. Hosts can only add Facebook-hosted videos to the queue, which means no content from YouTube or other video steaming websites can be used. Also, the feature is currently only available to Facebook Groups, although Facebook are testing support to make it accessible to Pages as well. Then there’s the issue of moderating comments: be prepared for someone to take advantage of the event to air their grievances or attempt to steal the limelight, e.g. a disgruntled customer. This is usually a minority, but it’s a good idea to consider all possibilities before going live.
So, why should you care about this new feature as a business? User engagement tends to dip after the initial honeymoon period of joining and contributing to the group, so you have to make more effort to keep your audience interested and active. Done the right way (including posting about it in the days and weeks beforehand to ensure that the maximum people are aware of the event), a Watch Party has the potential to considerably re-engage your audience. Gathering everyone around some captivating content and giving them a space to interact with you as well as other users will reignite their enthusiasm for your brand and personalise it at the same time. What’s more, if you queue pre-recorded videos, that gives you an opportunity to fully focus on hosting the session and respond to all questions and comments in real time. If you’re not responsive, the session doesn’t differ from simply posting a video.