Now, Facebook is expanding and promoting the program as a means of bringing businesses online. This is a goal — or a necessity — for many businesses during the pandemic.
Before we talk more about how it works, we’re wondering whether the program is in any way related to the pressure Facebook is getting from Congress.
Mark Zuckerberg explained to Congress how Facebook makes money:
The Economist suggested, in response to the ongoing Congressional concerns about Facebook, that Facebook could change their business model. Instead of owning user-generated content and data, and selling ads based on that, they suggested that users could own and monetize their data and content.
Facebook’s Stars program may be the first step toward a new business model for the beleaguered social media giant. Or it may just be a new development in influencer marketing. Either way, it’s an interesting program for those who qualify. Facebook Stars is not an invitation-only program, but Facebook will tell you whether you are eligible to apply. If you pass muster, people can send you stars, worth a penny apiece.
Stars is not actually the first monetization option at Facebook. If you go to the Creator’s Studio page, you can see which options your page is eligible for.
We found that most of the pages we manage are eligible for Instant Articles, but fewer are eligible for the Stars program, even if they have lots of Likes.
If you are eligible for Stars, you’ll see a message like this. If you click the Set Up button you can provide your tax and banking info and set up an account.
Your fans can send you stars during your live videos or streams. The people participating in this are generally gamers, but the program has been expanded to other types of content.
If you are watching a stars-enabled video, you will see a star next to “Write a comment.” Click on it and you can buy stars and send them to the creator of the video. You can do the same in the Chat section.
Fans can send as many stars as they like — for example, by typing the shortcut code “!250” you would send the video creator $2.50 worth of stars.
Some gaming livestream creators earn significant incomes with stars. However, Facebook is now suggesting that Stars can help you move your business online, a useful thing during the pandemic.
Using Stars to move a business online
They give the example of a fitness instructor who offers popular classes on Facebook Live. She sets up a Stars account and creates a new livestream video telling her fans that she wants to earn enough Stars to buy a new microphone so they will get a better experience.
By promoting the Stars program and making sure her fans understand it, she obviously helps Facebook. But she also helps herself earn stars. She can promote her goal and let viewers know how many more stars she needs to buy that new microphone.
By the time she reaches her goal, her fans will be in the habit of sending her stars. While this is basically a donation, Facebook allows various kinds of rewards. They encourage video creators to thank people who sent stars and to respond to their acquisition of stars.
But you could also offer to post exclusive live video if you reach your goal. If that fitness instructor sets a goal for each of her videos that represents the amount of money she wants to earn for her class, she can use social media apart from Facebook to help drive traffic to her livestream video class.
Then she can bring her audience along with her stars program, encouraging them to feel that they are participants with her in reaching her goal. Some viewers may pay nothing, but others may get into the habit of paying the amount they feel the class is worth in stars. Still others might join in adding stars as she gets closer to the goal, working together with others to help the instructor reach her goals.
Succeeding with Stars
As always, you have to start with good content. If your livestream videos are entertaining and informative, you’re likely to inspire your fans to donate stars.
You also need a relationship with your fans. While some businesses may have fans excited enough to give them stars on general principles, the main method Facebook recommends is to set a goal and get your fans to help you reach it. They have to like you well enough to want you to reach your goal.
You can offer them exclusive content or say that you will be able to livestream more often or provide better quality with their help, but you can’t gate your content and force people to pay.
You also need a large audience. At a penny a star, 300 followers isn’t going to be enough. It’s probably not enough to qualify.
If you need to work your way up, get started. If you’re ready to start, develop a strategy before you dive in.
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