facebook instant articles
Credit: Image by Pixabay.

The future of Facebook's News Feed will be more focused on video, according to the network's product director Fidji Simo.

Speaking at the ONA conference in Denver on 15 September, Simo highlighted 360 degrees and immersive video as a key focus for News Feed.

"We build products based on what the audience tell us they want," she said.

"But what I can say based on what I'm seeing right now is that I think it's going to be more video. A lot more video".

Facebook's daily video views have now topped 8 billion, up from 1 billion a year ago.

One of the reasons Facebook is making such a big investment in 360 degree video, a feature the platform enabled in September 2015, is because "people want to feel like they're part of the action", Simo added.

The most popular 360 degree video so far is ABC News' footage from New York's Times Square in the middle of January's blizzard, which has had 18 million views to date.

Simo also highlighted a documentary video by PBS NewsHour on the hunger crisis in South Sudan, which has been viewed 16 million times.

"All of these technologies are, when I say immersive, they're actually meant [to drive] more empathy."

Generating conversation

Simo also said the News Feed would be "more social".

"It's going to be more around putting people at the centre, not just in terms of putting them in the action like 360, but also giving them a voice and letting them debate about these ideas," she added.

Facebook Live, which launched in April, has been a key tool to aid dialogue – both between viewers and between viewers and the broadcaster.

"Live videos generate 10 times as many comments than regular videos because people feel like they're being heard," said Simo.

New features

The ability to broadcast live videos from the web is one feature Facebook is in the process of rolling out, which Simo notes will be particularly useful for journalists who are doing a lot of Q&As.

Another new feature coming soon is "comment pinning", enabling broadcasters to "pin" a comment to the top of the thread while a video is live, so viewers can see the most popular or pertinent comment to the conversation.

However, the feature newsrooms are likely to get most excited about is a new Page admin role purely for live broadcasts.

"We have heard that a lot of media organisations don't feel comfortable giving a tonne of journalists in the field admin access to their Page, but they want them to be able to go live from that Page at any moment," said Simo.

Facebook's new "broadcaster role" will give all journalists in the field access to broadcast live from a Page, without giving them access to everything else.

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).