Facebook is stepping up efforts to lure creators from all corners of the world to its Watch platform, dangling not only the promise of connecting with communities but making serious money from their content through ads.
As part of wooing content creators to Facebook Watch — as the social giant continues to play catch-up to YouTube — the company is rolling out a large presence at the first-ever VidCon London, which runs this week Feb. 14-17 at London ExCel convention center. In addition, it’s holding an invite-only Facebook Creator Day in London on Feb. 11-12 with a deeper dive on how to build a presence, grow community, and turn video production into a full-time job on Facebook.
Headlining Facebook’s activities this week is Jay Shetty (pictured above), a self-made self-help guru and motivational speaker who has over 20 million Facebook followers. He’ll be a special guest at Facebook Creator Day London and a featured speaker at VidCon London.
Shetty, 31, claims he’s earned more than $1 million over the past 12 months from ad revenue generated on his Facebook Watch channel, which his biggest video platform. To date, his videos overall have garnered over 4 billion views, spanning topics including relationships, self-love, wellness, mental health and purpose.
“People are seeking guidance and advice and positive, uplifting messages,” Shetty said about the popularity of his Facebook videos. He admitted he “came to the party late in terms of becoming a creator” and found traction with Facebook video because he already had built a community there.
“Facebook is going through a growth phase. They’re recognizing the importance of creators and helping them grow,” said Shetty, adding, “I lucked out with great timing.”
With Shetty’s keynote talk and other events, Facebook is hoping to inspire creators at VidCon London — where Google’s YouTube has signed on as title sponsor and YouTube’s Kevin Allocca, head of culture and trends, will present the creator keynote. YouTube has been the premiere sponsor of the original VidCon (which Viacom acquired a year ago) since 2013.
Facebook’s goal isn’t to poach creators from YouTube or any other platform, said Patrick Walker, the company’s London-based director of media partnerships for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The point is to drive home Facebook’s position that it’s a “social platform like no other,” one that can enable creators to earn enough money to become their full-time job, said Walker, who has previously worked at the BBC and YouTube.
Today, Facebook has more tools and features to offer creators. In August 2018, it started the worldwide rollout of Facebook Watch, its platform for episodic video content. Facebook in the last few months also has ramped up its localized video support teams, introduced a co-viewing feature called “Watch Parties” and — perhaps most critically for career content creators — has expanded its Ad Breaks revenue-sharing program.
“Watch in itself has given us an exciting opportunity to reintroduce ourselves to creators and media partners,” Walker said. “We have monetization options, which completely changes the game.” To be eligible for Facebook’s Ad Breaks, videos must be published from a Page with at least 10,000 followers and in the last 60 days must have had a minimum of 30,000 one-minute views on videos at least three minutes long.
At the Facebook Creator Day this week (which is actually two days), 72 creators will convene at Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire. The event will include a number of workshops, interactive talks and opportunities to hear from other creators on the platform. Creators in attendance will come from more than 10 countries including the U.K., Ireland, Sweden, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria and South Africa. Besides Shetty, notable attendees include the UK’s Caspar Lee and Julius Dein; France’s Clara Marz; Germany’s Dagi Bee; Nigeria’s Basketmouth; and UAE’s Omar Nour.
Walker declined to say whether Facebook is paying for creators’ travel expenses, but he acknowledged that the company is “hosting them” at the Soho Farmhouse.
Facebook’s activities at VidCon London will include Walker and Shetty at the industry-track keynote on Thursday, Feb. 14, at noon. That will follow the 11 a.m. preso by Ashley Yuki, Instagram and IGTV’s product lead, who will speak about Instagram’s focus for 2019. The company also is hosting a Facebook & Instagram Creator Lounge as well as workshops across its family of apps, including Oculus VR.
Facebook first stepped up its presence in a big way at the 2017 VidCon, in Anaheim, Calif. Over the past year, it’s held a series of events and workshops for creators, including first ever Facebook Creator Day in Los Angeles in June 2018, bringing together 120 creators including Nas Daily, followed by similar events in Mumbai and São Paulo.
In teaming with Shetty as an ambassador for the platform, Facebook hopes his enthusiasm and experience will lead to a new crop of content creators choosing to make Facebook their main platforms to reach audiences. After graduating from the University of London’s Cass Business School, Shetty shunned opportunities in the corporate world and moved to India where he lived as a Vedic monk for three years. He then moved to the U.S. (now residing in Los Angeles), where he launched business ventures including an online-coaching subscription service and in-person speaking engagements with businesses.
“All of those businesses have been possible because of Facebook and its scale,” said Shetty, whose tagline is “making wisdom go viral.”
Part of Shetty’s message is that creators have a responsibility for their own health and wellness and, by extension, to spread that ethos of self-care to their communities. “It’s not just about money,” he said. “It’s about helping people.”