Live video is officially a much bigger deal on Facebook now. The company announced that it now takes this into account when ranking content in the News Feed.
In early December, Facebook began letting a small percentage of people in the U.S. stream live video from their iPhones. Later that month, they expanded this to all verified pages. In January, Facebook announced that the feature was rolling out to all U.S. iPhone users. Then, in early February, they opened up the functionality to the Pages Manager app for iPhone in the U.S.
Facebook announced last week, it would begin rolling out the ability for people on Android to share live video. This starts in the U.S. with more countries to follow.
This roll-out should be in progress as I write this, and now, Facebook is making all of this live video matter more by putting it higher in the priority list when it comes to what people see in their News Feeds.
"As with any new type of content in News Feed, we are learning what signals help us show you the most relevant Facebook Live videos for you personally," the company said in an announcement. "For example, a few years ago when more people began sharing and watching video on Facebook we listened to feedback to learn what signals helped us show people more of the videos they want to see and fewer of the videos they don’t. At first we updated News Feed ranking to take into account how many people watched a video and how long people watched for to help us personalize News Feed based on people’s preference for watching video. Over time we also learned that certain actions people take on a video, such as choosing to turn on sound or making the video full screen, are good signs they wanted to see that video, even if they didn’t choose to like it."
"Now that more and more people are watching Live videos, we are considering Live Videos as a new content type – different from normal videos – and learning how to rank them for people in News Feed," Facebook added. "As a first step, we are making a small update to News Feed so that Facebook Live videos are more likely to appear higher in News Feed when those videos are actually live, compared to after they are no longer live. People spend more than 3x more time watching a Facebook Live video on average compared to a video that’s no longer live. This is because Facebook Live videos are more interesting in the moment than after the fact."
Facebook says it doesn't expect Pages to see significant changes as a result of the update. This makes sense considering that most Pages don't have access to the feature yet. Right now, it's only available to users, verified Pages, and public figures using Mentions.
If and when live video streaming does become available to all pages, this ranking signal will obviously matter a great deal more. Of course Pages are already competing for that News Feed real estate, and if they're all given this feature and using live video, not much is going to change here. It will still just be one of many signals.
Facebook prioritizing live videos would seemingly give it an edge up on Twitter's Periscope app, which provides very similar functionality. Periscope, however isn't limited to verified accounts.
Image via Facebook