Facebook’s Riff creates collaborative viral videos that anyone can contribute

By | April 2, 2015

Facebook on April Fool’s Day has unveiled a new app called Riff that lets users or network of friends add clips to an existing video focused on a particular topic. It is very much capable of changing the game for advertisers on the social network, which can directly engage its consumers. Of late, Facebook has started giving too much attention to video and this looks like another example for the emphasis on video.


Any Facebook user can upload their clips on the trend, collectively creating a saga that may be silly but loads of fun. Through this fun feature Riff that was from the Facebook’s Creative Labs, the company hopes the idea can be good enough to pull people away from Snapchat and Vine.

The idea behind Riff is to let people record a video of 20 seconds and share it among their friends, who can add-on their own recordings soon after it. The video can be just a simple one-off or maybe the beginning of something that has its own life. These kind of videos and clips can pave way to what is called viral videos these days. The video-driven campaign contributed to the drastic increase in the video posts last year about 94% in USA and 75% globally.

“If looked at five years ago, a lot of Facebook was primarily text and little bit of photos. Now I think the primary mode that people are using to share is photos and I wouldn’t be surprised if in future that shifted more and more towards videos,” said Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The source of inspiration for the app, available for both iOS and Android, is from the last year’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which made people post videos of themselves pouring buckets of ice water on their heads in the name of charity. When Facebook realized that people were suddenly using its service in a way different from it usually is, it decided to create a feature to take it a step higher.

Product manager of Riff, Josh Miller says, “The potential pool of creative collaborators can grow exponentially from there, so a short video can become an inventive project between circles you can share to Facebook or anywhere on the internet.” Miller also states, “It can get big pretty quickly” as additional clips to the Riff are designed to go viral. “The goal is to grow these things as much as possible and to get as many views and as many clips, but we don’t really know – as its only being tested with group of employees for now.” It is quite surprising to know that a simple Riff thread of employees covering their mouths with their hands has more than 1500 contributions.

When one sees 1500 contributors, next thing that strikes is the length of the video for who would be interested in a lengthy video. Keeping the length issue in mind, Facebook has tools and safeguards to let one skip ahead. Firstly, it has a 20-second limit which is currently arbitrary and could change over time but for now, it is to prevent from having long boring videos. Secondly, there is fast-forward button that lets the user leap to the next thread.

Another interesting information is that Riff is a standalone app, but can also fit inside Facebook itself. One can post a Riff on one’s Facebook profile but later additions can be made retroactively. This gives a life to the videos that people can get back later. However, no text comments are possible inside the app which means the user has to get back to Facebook to post comments.

On the whole, through Riff Facebook is making its users get adapted to these new video formats because they are huge opportunities for advertisers to target and connect Facebook users.

Check the Riff’s sample video collaboration below: