What to Know About Facebook’s free ‘Paid Online Events’ Feature

It’s nearly September and businesses across the country are still either closed or operating in a limited capacity, due to the pandemic that just won’t seem to go away. As the proverb goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and Facebook’s team is looking to help SMBs find new revenue streams as the traditional ones have shrunk significantly over the past 6 months.

The problem with hosting online events is that they’re hard to monetize. Even if a platform includes a tipping feature, there’s no way to guarantee that any real money will be made. Facebook’s answer to this problem is the roll-out of its ‘Paid Online Events’ feature.

Here’s what you need to know before trying it out:


1.      It’s Free (for at least a year)!

That’s right – if you want to host a virtual event using Facebook’s new feature you won’t have to pay anything at all! Just like a regular, non-monetized live video, Facebook’s Paid Online events are free.

At a time when money is as tight as it’s ever been, the lack of a cost barrier is hugely beneficial for businesses looking to earn some money, not spend it. While the social media giant did note that it might include a small fee in the future, the free period should give businesses plenty of time to experiment and decide if the feature is worth paying for down the road.

For the time being, businesses should focus on developing and refining different types of content to test the market. With no financial risk involved, it’s the perfect environment to let creativity take the wheel and see what sticks.


2.      The Feedback Has Been Overwhelmingly Positive

Yes, the ‘Paid Online Events’ feature is still in its infancy, but businesses are already giving glowing reviews.

Several SMBs have been participating in beta versions of the tool and have seen firsthand the results that it can drive. Whether it’s hosting a podcast, cooking or fitness class, or even just conversations with experts in a certain business’s industry, audiences are responding to the new offerings with a high degree of enthusiasm.

Businesses who have had the privilege of using the feature have also said that it’s easy to use on both the producer and the audience’s side, which means there’s no real learning curve that causes a significant barrier to entry.


3.      Payment Processing Is Seamless

The main objective for businesses using Paid Online Events, aside from simply cultivating brand loyalty and getting additional exposure, is to earn additional revenue. That begs the question, “How complicated is the payment system?” The answer thus far is: It couldn’t be much easier.

Facebook has implemented both Google and Android payment flows so that users won’t have to input any additional payment information if they’re already using these systems. It might sound like a small thing, but not requiring users to get out their card and type out all of their information is a big factor in getting conversions.

Businesses can set prices as high or low as they want, and can experiment accordingly to find the ideal price point their content.


4.      Future Considerations

Perhaps the most exciting thing about Facebook’s new offering is the opportunities it could provide in the future. If businesses are able to develop a loyal following for their paid content, the sky is the limit when looking at the revenue opportunities down the road.

Think of it this way: if a local restaurant hosts a monthly cooking class for $10 and is able to get 1,000 people to watch regularly (a reasonable number), that’s $10,000 for something that is nearly cost-free to produce. For businesses that operate with a thin margin, these numbers cannot be ignored.

If businesses commit to promoting, producing, and creating great content, this feature can go far beyond just acting as a marketing tool – it can be a serious profit machine.


5.      There’s Virtually No Risk

For all the potential that Paid Online Events has for many businesses, the reality is that it isn’t going to work for everyone. With that being said, there’s almost no real financial risk to giving it a shot.

Because you aren’t paying for an advertising product such as Facebook ads, there isn’t much downside to putting on a few live events and seeing if it sticks. If it works, the upside is endless. If it doesn’t, at least you didn’t waste very much (or any) money in the process.

If you’re intent on making it a part of your revenue model, it’s a good idea to ask your audience what content they might find appealing enough to pay for. Chances are that there is at least something that your business’s followers would like to see.


6.      It’s Helpful for Targeting

Expert digital marketers know that there’s just no substitute for a refined, targeted audience. Facebook knows how important it is to get your ads in front of the right people, and the new video feature is helping out.

Once users pay for your content, you can create targeting lists using their data. Not only does this mean you can put them on a list of your most dedicated customers, but you can also build the always-valuable ‘Lookalike’ audiences to find users with similar characteristics.

This is just one more way that Facebook is helping brands not only sell their products or services, but truly cultivate a sense of brand loyalty that keeps businesses thriving for years to come.


Wrapping Up

It’s too early to say whether or not Paid Live Content will be a major revenue-generator for SMBs, but the potential is undeniable.

Put together a team of your most creative employees and see what ideas make the most sense for the new feature. You might be surprised how many people are willing to pay to get premium content from your brand.

As always, if your business needs assistance in developing a successful digital marketing strategy, get in touch today for a consultation.