Facebook is rolling out a new financial feature that allows small businesses to charge users for access to events held on its platform. The new initiative could be particularly enticing for businesses that have turned to virtual performances during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Using Facebook’s new feature, businesses can create, promote and host their own event all in the same place. Event hosts can also set the price and collect payment through the Facebook app. Facebook tested the feature with a variety of businesses in multiple industries, including for online cooking classes, virtual concerts, and panel discussions. The feature will work on Facebook Live, with another version being tested within Messenger that would allow brands to interact with fans and customers in a more one-on-one setting. Using both platforms could help Facebook further mesh its commerce, customer service, and social features to accommodate users, according to a Gartner report on the topic.
Augmenting its virtual video features for small businesses is Facebook’s latest initiative to help boost independent brands during the pandemic. Since March, the platform has launched a Business Nearby feature, a contactless payment model on WhatsApp, and a month-long educational series for Black business owners. To further support sales and awareness for small businesses around the world, Facebook will not collect fees for any of the paid events held within the next year, meaning small businesses can keep 100% of the revenues from their online events. However, any performances held on iOS will be charged a 30% App Store Tax by Apple, which has created a point of contention between the two tech giants. Despite this, Facebook launched the feature in twenty countries for small businesses online, on Android, and through iOS.
Facebook’s unique streaming initiative presents a glimpse into the future of live events in the era of social distancing. Additionally, the paid events feature allows the tech giant to expand its monetization capabilities while helping small businesses drive online sales.