Going LIVE with Facebook Live
In December of 2015, Facebook made Facebook Live available to the masses, allowing for live broadcasting on the platform. Though brands are still in the experimental phase of using this newish feature, many are leaping into the fray, excited by the ease with which they can broadcast to followers. And it really is easy. With a smartphone and a solid connection, preferably Wi-Fi, just tap on the lifestream icon and broadcast right from your phone. “It’s the democratization of broadcasting,” says Jack Martin, London-based Senior Community Manager at 1000heads, a global agency that specializes in social media and works with brands such as Skype, Dubai Tourism, Salomon, and Red Bull. “Brands who previously would never have been able to afford the massive financial outlay in live broadcasting are now empowered to embrace the opportunity.”
Facebook created great buzz around the platform by making livestream posts highly prominent in the newsfeed early on and by making livestream capabilities available to celebrities and public figures in 2015. “That delivered brands and publishers free media that they would normally be forced to pay for,” Martin says. “Facebook also cleverly inserted push notifications to users who followed brands, instantly alerting them to livestreams as soon they began. This initial promotion ensured Facebook Live gained immediate interest among brands and consumers.”
Now, it’s a question of how quickly brands are able to take advantage of it. Martin says innovative publishers such as BuzzFeed have led the way with interesting examples, such as when 800,000 people tuned in to watch 45 minutes of two people exploding a watermelon with elastic bands. The challenge is that traditional brand publishing is not designed to deliver impactful live broadcasting. “Brands need to ensure that they have content teams with the appropriate experience, talent, and equipment in place to deliver compelling stories via Live,” he says. Brands that embraced platforms such as Periscope and Meerkat, which exploded in 2015, are at a distinct advantage. “The rest,” Martin believes, “are playing catch-up.”
So why would you want to broadcast live on Facebook rather than create your own live “Wayne’s World” and air it on YourOwnBrandNameHere.com? First, Facebook Live lives on something called Facebook, which has 1.7 billion monthly active users. It’s also a platform on which most brands already have a presence, so it’s easy to integrate live content into your existing content plans. As Martin points out, the added element of social engagement means livestreams are no longer a passive experience. Instead, they are an active one, during which viewers can interact with the broadcaster instantly. “Facebook also enables easy sharing among consumers, which gives brands the opportunity to drive word of mouth through Live to an extent that no other social platform offers,” he explains. “And the data Facebook holds on its users allows brands to create the most effective audience to target based on their interests, browsing behavior, and similarity to your existing customer base through creating look-alike audiences from your CRM data.”
And, yes, your Facebook Live broadcast can still live on your website or blog going forward if you simply embed a bit of HTML code into your site. Martin adds that, while you can signpost your broadcast on other social networks, “It is not a natural user behavior to move to a different social network while browsing another, so nailing it natively on the platform is always preferable.”
Facebook has already promised advertisers advancements to the platform that will allow advertising on it. In August, they started testing 15-second, midroll ads on livestreams. Martin says Facebook has created an API for the Live platform. That means developers can access the platform code and then plug additional hardware and features into it. “At the moment, the offering is limited, but you can already stream from drones and stand-alone cameras,” he says. “We can expect that hardware brands such as GoPro will develop this offering for their cameras, as they have done with Periscope.”
Maximizing Your Facebook Live Broadcast
Jack Martin offers some simple thoughts for getting the most from your brand broadcast on Facebook Live.
There isn’t an ideal length for a Facebook Live broadcast. Do interesting, compelling things, and people will tune in and stay engaged. Red Bull created one of the most compelling and most watched moments in live-streaming history when Felix Baumgartner skydived from space. Be interesting, be relevant, and the audiences will follow.
Don’t be too amateur . . . or too professional.
A professional video production crew with experience in lighting, sound, and direction of live broadcasting will deliver a more polished product. However, there is a strong argument for a more rough-and-ready stream. Consumers will see this as a more authentic, intimate window into a story. Viewers’ expectations of online broadcasts versus traditional, live TV broadcasts are set at different levels, due to their exposure to live-streaming.
A little ad spend goes a long way.
Like most social networks, Facebook is pay to play. Organic reach of a brand’s Page posts will be, on average, 2.6 percent of their fans, so ensuring ad dollars are put behind posts is essential to their success, unless you are fortunate enough to go viral. The positive part of this is that Facebook is a mature ad platform that offers advanced targeting options, allowing you to reach the audience
at the right time. If you are investing budget and effort in producing something cool, make sure people can see it.