A decade since it was launched, Facebook has emerged as Google’s biggest competitor on the internet. For a while now, it has been pushing for a share of the video sharing market, competing with YouTube. Yesterday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that videos on the social media site records an average of 8 billion views daily. Backed by a 1.55 billion user base, that number isn’t really that difficult to achieve. With more than a billion active monthly users, Zuckerberg will be raring to take on Google’s dominance of the video sharing market.
Facebook is constantly tweaking its News Feed algorithm to push more video content to users. Ad product lead Ted Zagat has gone so far as to suggest that the news feed will be mostly video within the next couple of years. In September it had introduced 360-degree videos on Android and web platforms. However, there are a few things that it needs to get in order before it can mount a serious challenge. For starters, YouTube at its very core, is a site created for the sole purpose of sharing video content and not for general social networking. It allows users to search for specific videos, something that Facebook needs to have in order to be taken seriously. Then there are the various features and enhancements that YouTube offers, specifically tailored for video content. Not to mention, its video player is vastly superior to Facebook’s in terms of usability and customisation features on offer.
Interestingly, YouTube is trying to build social networking platforms by offering specialised services to cater to a specific audience. In June, it launched YouTube Gaming, aimed at the gaming community. It wants to “keep you connected to the games, players, and culture that matter to you, with videos, live streams, and the biggest community of gamers on the web—all in one place.” Last month, it launched YouTube Red, a premium subscription-based service to provide an ad-free experience. In contrast, Facebook is still a friends-based social network, with varied interests, ranging from VR technology to solar-powered drones streaming free internet.
Facebook wants to create an online ecosystem, much like Google’s. While Google had to gradually build up its user base for its different products, Facebook is essentially banking on its huge capital of users to build its ecosystem. It wants to become your world, one that offers everything that you would possibly want from the internet. However, its efforts of turning the social media site into a video-first platform can swing either way. For such an undertaking to become successful, Facebook cannot afford to alienate its core base of users. If it does manage to pull it off, then Google has a lot to worry about.
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