Businesses can now monetize online events on Facebook. Thanks to a new feature the social network launches today in the US and 19 other countries.
In a call with reporters, head of the Facebook app Fidji Simo Facebook's events feature is designed for personal events. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting social distancing orders, the company has "very quickly" turned to supporting online events.
In fact, Simo said that the live broadcasts on Facebook pages doubled in June this year compared to the same period in 2019.
Simo also described the new function in a Facebook blog post. Companies can host larger events through Facebook Live, and the company is also testing the ability to hold smaller, more interactive gatherings in messenger rooms. The aim is to give business owners the ability to create the event, set the price, promote the event, collect payment, and host the event themselves from one location.
Apparently, the paid events already organized during tests with early users include lectures, trivia, podcast recordings, boxing matches, cooking classes, meet-and-greets, and fitness classes.
"With social distancing mandates still in place, many companies and developers are putting their events and services online to connect with existing customers and reach new ones," Simo wrote. "People also rely more on live video and interactive experiences when they can't physically get together."
Simo said Facebook will not charge fees for paid online events for at least next year. On the Internet and Android, companies "in countries where we have introduced Facebook Pay" should be able to keep 100% of their sales from online events. That won't be the case on iOS, however, and Simo's blog post contains a surprisingly direct take on Apple:
We asked Apple to cut the App Store tax by 30% or offer Facebook Pay so we could cover all costs for companies struggling during COVID-19. Unfortunately, they both declined our requests and SMEs only receive 70% of their hard-earned earnings. Since this is complicated, we will clarify all fees in our products as long as Facebook waives its fees.
To that end, the post also includes an iOS screenshot ("which we put Apple for approval today") showing that the buy button has a small text message that says "Apple is taking 30% of this purchase" under the buy button (vs. . "Facebook doesn't charge a fee for this purchase" on Android).