When Facebook Live was introduced to the masses in April 2016, it offered users the power to broadcast live from the palm of their hand. It was also another example of mobile usage leading the way forward. But don’t fret; that computer sitting on your desk or in your lap isn’t a fossil just yet, and Facebook understands that. In March of this year, Facebook announced that anyone can go live from his or her desktop or laptop computer, too. Previously, verified publishers were the only ones capable of doing so.
Part of the appeal of the new Live offering is the ability to stream video from external sources such as professional cameras and to do so right from a profile, rather than just on a business Page, as was previously the case. Facebook Product Manager Erin Connolly and Software Engineer Jeff Hendy explained some of the new potential in a blog post: “With this update, people can seamlessly share their screens, insert graphics, switch cameras, or use professional equipment in Facebook Live videos,” they wrote. “They also have the option to broadcast to Facebook groups they belong to, Facebook Events they’re part of, or Facebook Pages they manage.”
For marketers, this means being able to do things such as question and answer sessions, video blogs, or even live tutorials, and to do so in better visual and audio quality. To enable Facebook Live from your desktop or laptop, just click on “Live Video” at the top of your News Feed or timeline and follow a few directions. To use streaming software, download one of the streaming software programs Facebook supports, go to facebook.com/live/create, then click “Create Live Stream.”
“On a practical level, having Facebook Live on your desktop or laptop means being able to do professional-quality, live broadcasts and easily reply to viewers’ comments using the keyboard, which can be difficult [when] operating a phone by yourself,” says Anssi Mäkelä, a social media consultant who has worked for Amer Sports, Nokia, and others. “On a longer-term scale, I would imagine this might someday go in the direction of having some sort of director’s board done by Facebook or a third party using Facebook APIs, allowing for an even more professional operation.”
Mäkelä says this sort of improvement and new offering is another example of Facebook recognizing user behavior and improving what’s offered. Until now, companies such as Livestream have provided most of the professional-quality systems for live broadcasts. “Facebook was hardly the first one in this market. Live-streaming of video content has been around for years, but now is the right time, with all the tools and capabilities people have at their fingertips,” Mäkelä says. “When Twitter came out with Periscope, for example, that got a ton of attention, then Facebook came out with something similar so quickly. They don’t always invent these things, but they are very fast on improving them, capitalizing on them, and monetizing them.”
They also have a massive audience to deliver these products to and the ability to mold consumer behavior. Just a few short years ago, Facebook decided that photos would be important and customized the app so that photos received more visibility than text in the News Feed. People—especially marketers—got used to that and adapted. Then Facebook decided that video would be the gold standard.
“Now live-streaming gets more visibility, engagement, and reach, so that becomes the standard. And this is how they are building behavior,” Mäkelä explains. “Of course, there is a learning curve for a lot of people on this stuff, but now the average Joe can become a broadcaster. Before, it took a full team to operate in this space. Now, people can do high-quality broadcasts by themselves, and that grows the market as well.”