Facebook Watch — A New Feature that is Great for Churches
Facebook Watch is a brand new video-based feature that Facebook is beginning to roll out, and it has the potential to be a great tool for ministry.
We all know that video is becoming king on the internet. But the kind of video that succeeds in the Facebook Newsfeed is usually short, viewed without sound, and requires you to capture the viewer’s attention within seconds. Basically, video of your sermon or worship service have little-to-no shot to break through.
With Watch, Facebook is creating a dedicated space within their platform for long-form video. Instead of fighting for views in the Newsfeed, Watch is a place that users intentionally visit in order to watch Episodes from the Shows they follow.
The Structure of Facebook Watch
Facebook Watch will be organized by Shows, just like within Netflix or Hulu. Viewers will be able to like/follow/subscribe to specific Shows, and all new Episodes will appear on their Watch List.
Each Show will have a Show Page, which is like a regular Facebook Page. Show Pages can create and share traditional Facebook Posts — text, links, photos, video, live video, interact via comments, etc.
What makes them different is that they will primarily be based around the production, management, and promotion of Episodes. Each new Episode a Show posts will show up on their Show Page and in the Watch List of Facebook Users who like/follow your show.
While Show Pages are separate from your regular Facebook Page, they can be linked via attribution. For example, your Show Page can appear as “Weekly Worship” by . And as noted above, you can share content between your Show Page and your regular Page.
Shows can create new Episodes in two ways: uploading a video file or broadcasting live.
As with current Facebook Live videos, there will be the opportunity to interact with viewers during a live broadcast. This opens up the opportunity to minister to folks during the broadcast of a church service/sermon, or you could do a live q&a or prayer request show.
Following the completion of a live broadcast from your Show Page, the archived video will appear and function just like regular uploaded Episodes.
If you currently stream your worship live on your regular Page, you can share that broadcast to your Show Page, but it will not be logged or appear as an Episode. It will only appear as a shared post on your Show Page’s wall.
You can, of course, always work in reverse—broadcasting from your Show page and sharing it to your regular Page. However, if you currently have a high rate of viewership and engagement when you broadcast on your regular Page, changing it up may disrupt that. A workaround is to download the video after the live broadcast on your regular Page and upload the file as a new Episode on your Show Page.
What Facebook Watch Is Not
Facebook Watch is truly meant to be a collection of Shows. All Episodes of a Show should follow a similar pattern, theme, style, and/or topic.
This means that Facebook Watch is not a replacement for your YouTube channel where you dump every video your church makes. A Show that is a random assortment of videos—from sermons to the youth mission video to the announcements video to a baptism video to a skit from the children’s ministry—will likely not attract and retain regular viewers.
How Churches Can Use Facebook Watch
The reason I think this could be such a successful platform for churches is that we create regular content every week. Some examples of Shows that could work well include:
- Your worship service (live or edited/uploaded)
- Your sermon
- A weekly “call-in” or Q&A live show
- A weekly live prayer meeting
- Topical shows (ex. parenting, finances, etc.)
You could also create a hybrid Show where you post the sermons and then have a mid-week “call-in” show to talk about the sermon and answer questions.
Obviously, you can also be as creative as you want and/or have time for! The examples above are just some content that you’re likely already producing on a regular basis.
How to Get Started
Facebook Watch is currently being rolled out. You will soon see a Watch section in the Video tab of your Facebook apps (mobile, desktop, Apple TV, etc.).
Initially, if you are interested in creating a Show, you must apply. You can do so at this link: https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/showpageinquiry
Because Facebook does not want the Watch tab to be just churches (or just sports, or just video games, or just news, etc.), they will be approving shows in a way that balances the content early on. Once things pick up, they will be able to open it up much wider. However, the link above will get you in line for consideration.
What you can do right now, whether you apply and get approved or not, is begin to think through what kind of Show you might create. Research what equipment you might need. Practice filming and editing. If you want to do a live show, go live from your regular Facebook Page and see if people are interested in your concept and willing to participate. The more practice you put in now, the better your Show will be when you officially launch it.
A Word of Thanks
A friend of mine from high school works for Facebook and is currently assigned to the Facebook Watch project. He was gracious enough to have a conversation with me about this new feature, which is where I got most of my information. I am grateful for his time!
If any information above is incorrect, I take full responsibility — or it may have changed between our conversation and the current implementation as Facebook is always a work in progress.