Estimated read time: 6 minutes
I’ve seen the Start a Watch Party button on Facebook for a while now and mostly have ignored it. Why would I need to do a party online – watching a video? Especially when the video is 30-seconds. Made no sense to me. And then the coronavirus tied many of us to our homes. Zoom dates are now a thing – virtual background included. So is the fight over the home WiFi bandwidth.
Public health and safety officials are also doing more livestreams. I watch them and noticed the Start a Watch Party button again. With all this live-streaming going on, the temptation was turned up even more.
Are they worth it? Is it a good user experience?
”I like them from a small business perspective,” said Danielle Plogmann about Watch Parties. “When I do a Facebook Live showing how to cook on a Traeger grill, sometimes my husband hosts a watch party and it really hosts viewership.”
Let’s dive into the how Watch Parties work and how brands can maximize them for reach.
Facebook Watch Party of a live video
This was an update from Linn County, Iowa, public health officials. They were live-streaming. That means, everyone was commenting on their stream and everyone could see the comments. Keep in mind that you can disable comments by clicking on the settings buttons and turning comments off in that livestream as well.
I simply clicked the Start button next to “Watch together with friends of with a group.”
Once I started my Facebook Watch party the public comments went away and I was whisked away into a private room.
From there my friends could join me and I could share my Watch Party again as well. I could still see how many people total are watching the livestream – even outside my Watch Party.
Once in my party room, participants can also turn their cameras on so you can see each other while watching the briefing. You can also chat with each other without trolls posting stupid things in the regular livestream thread.
Watch Parties are another reason videos or livestreams shouldn’t be too short. Longer videos with content worth watching work here to keep the party going.
Facebook Watch Party for non-live videos
It’s very similar. You just click on the button to get the party started. Of course, that doesn’t mean anyone will join. Don’t be disappointed if nobody else wants to watch the video with you.
Once a party is over it can’t be rewatched but a list of watched videos is still available.
Can brands start a Facebook Watch Party?
Yes. Just go to your brand page and start a new post. Then click Watch Party.
From there you can add videos to your watch party.
From there you can publish, schedule and boost and hope people will show up. A party of one isn’t that much fun!
The biggest disadvantage of a lot of watch parties of live videos is that brand managers can’t see what people are saying. As annoying as some comment threads are with trolls and negativity, at least we can see what is being said.
Once groups of people start Watch Parties, they are usually off limits to the brand – unless the brand manager is friends with people that are hosting the parties.
As a brand I probably also wouldn’t come on air and ask viewers to start watch parties. But it might be strategy to ask people affiliated with the brand to start a party to amplify reach.
Partner with influencers for Watch Parties?
You could even try to partner with influencers. Neal Schaffer’s new book – The Age of Influence – discusses that topic. He told me on the Business Storytelling Podcast to try to partner with influencers who already have an infinity for your brand.
Try to find people who are already connected to you and are fans. They may start parties because they believe in your brand and want to share its message. They just didn’t think about Facebook Watch Parties yet.
As a next step, identify other potential influencers to work with.
- Who talks about your brand and the industry vertical already?
- Do they have a following – though it doesn’t necessarily need to be huge?
- Are they interested?
(Affiliate links to Neal’s book.)
Also be certain that the people you partner with potentially have the right audience on Facebook. Facebook seems to me to have been the most personal network of the big social media networks out there. We connect with:
- Sometimes coworkers
But influencers and others from their personal pages can also start Watch Parties in groups that they are members of. I tested this from my mobile Facebook app. I posted a video of my cats watching leafs blow around in the 50-mph winds.
Click the little button (currently showing 0) in the top left corner. That gives you the option to start a Facebook Watch party, which you can push to:
- your news feed
- a group you are a member of
Some influencers have sizable audiences in Facebook groups or you might even have your own Facebook group. If that’s the case consider starting the livestream on your company page and then have somebody – even if it’s yourself – share it to the group.
One thing that’s nice about groups is that you can interact with people around a topic and not just around personal things.
Reminder on FTC rules when working with influencers
The FTC in the United States has rules on how influencers must disclose when they are working with brands in exchange for value (i.e. free product, money, etc.). Employees also have to disclose that they work for the company. This podcast has more on the topic:
Facebook Watch Parties wrap
I’m slightly torn on Watch Parties. Do I really need to see other people on camera while we are watching another video together? Maybe not in regular times, but in the days of social distancing it might be nice.
For brands, Watch Parties are worth trying. They can increase reach and you might even build relationships with new influencers and their audiences.