One would think that after conquering our lives, free time (and work hours, too!) with Facebook, Messenger and WhatsApp, Mark Zuckerberg would be lounging around in the Bahamas, gloating over his bank statement, but no; there are so many new markets to conquer. Streaming video, live broadcast, virtual reality – you can be dead certain Facebook has a foot in each of them and after a while, that foot will be found crushing any competitors beneath it.
Enter Facebook Live, a video streaming service that allows Facebook users to broadcast their lives to other users on a real time basis. Aren’t they doing that already, knowingly or otherwise? Yes, but since it is a live video feed, the content, so to speak, is original and unique. You never know what might happen. In a way it is like a YouTube and Twitter video, but much more personal and accessible.
These days, every new fad and trend is punctuated, unfortunately, by increasingly bizarre and fatal associations. Selfies and Pokémon Go routinely surface in accident reports and worse crimes. Facebook Live is no exception – murders have been seen in real time as they were being committed.
That said, Facebook Live is a tremendous tool for marketing. One of the best examples is Airbnb’s big campaign, Live There, where it partnered with Disney on The Jungle Book. The film’s Facebook page live streamed interviews from the red carpet at the premiere where Airbnb had built a tree house for the occasion.
BuzzFeed has captured the imagination of Facebook users with its video of stretching rubber bands over a watermelon until it eventually bursts. This played perfectly to the unpredictable nature of live video.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has used Facebook Live a handful of times already. From an informal tour of the museum to more involved exhibition previews, The Met's early experiments with Live show impressive take up and interest. Against all odds the broadcast went viral – heartening promise that maybe humanity still has a chance.
Dunkin’ Donuts used Facebook Live to take users inside Dunkin’ Brands University where the donut chain makes its products. The session was a tour of the facility that ended with a tutorial on how to make a wedding cake out of donuts and was hosted by Dunkin’ chefs. The post got 4,000 likes and drove 31,680 views.
Despite being in its infancy, Facebook Live is already making a huge impact. While one may feel this is nothing new, there are some distinct advantages of Facebook Live over similar services:
Scale. Facebook’s user base is unparalleled in size. Given that everyone is on Facebook practically all the time, it makes it a more attractive platform than live TV.
Engagement. It is safe to say that many Facebook users are more emotionally engaged with their virtual friendships than real-life relationships. This emotional engagement can easily translate into an appreciation of a brand and its impact on a consumer’s life. Coupled with the live, unedited nature of the videos, it allows a company to remove the corporate façade and invite a captive, unfettered audience.
Brand recognition: There is Periscope, Snapchat, even Youtube, but all these services either serve a different need or do not enjoy the widespread reach of Facebook. Many companies use their Facebook pages as their de facto home page for consumers.
Forbes has developed an insightful list of best practices towards utilising Facebook Live to the fullest.
• Let your users know in advance that you’re planning to broadcast. It won’t do you much good to broadcast if nobody’s prepared for it. Make an announcement – preferably several announcements – in advance to let your users know what they can expect.
• Check your connection. When you get ready to live stream, double check your connection speed and reliability and use Wi-Fi if you can. The last thing you want is for your stream to be cut off in the middle of an important moment.
• Write an awesome headline. It’s technically not a headline, but a description. Either way, it’s what people will read before they decide to tune in, so make sure it’s accurate and compelling enough to encourage participation.
• Engage with your viewers. Show appreciation to your users and attract new ones by engaging with them. Ask for feedback, respond to questions and make the experience as participatory as possible.
Facebook Live is also a tremendous opportunity for domestic marketers. As things stand, the take up is typically slow. So far notable uses have been limited to political parties and anchors, but for the greater public, Facebook Live is really an effective tool just waiting to be exploited.