Facebook Live – An era of complete transparency?

Mark Zuckerberg’s pet project Facebook Live rolled out all around the world this Spring. Media companies are paid by Facebook to produce monthly videos and the Facebook algorithm now favours live-streaming. Should businesses and marketers be excited? There’s one very good reason why.

Up to now, video content has been all about the finished product – with little need for behind-the-scenes access or commentary. With mobile apps such as Snapchat having already altered what viewers expect from online video content (honesty and authenticity), we here at Crop are sensing that this more open and interactive style of communication is here to stay – especially now that Facebook Live has been rolled out to people and publishers around the world.

What is Facebook Live?

Live video was introduced by Facebook in 2015 and is a feature that allows for real-time videos to be streamed on your timeline and news feed. You may have heard of  “Chewbacca Mom”, who recently posted a Facebook Live video which became the most-watched live video on Facebook ever.

Through the Facebook mobile app, users simply have to select the live-stream option in their status bar in order to start recording real-time content. While a video is being broadcast, viewers can react to the video by either commenting as they would on any ordinary video, or by utilizing Facebook’s popular emoji- feature.

While ordinary videos will still appear in your news feed, Facebook have recently updated their news feed algorithm to give preference to live content. This measure was taken to ensure that live videos have the best chance of being viewed while they’re actually live.

Will Facebook Live Videos benefit my business?

Thus far, we have not seen too many great examples of Facebook Live videos even though they have been popping up everywhere in recent months. Facebook has paid celebrities and media outlets to create live content (the New York Times and Buzzfeed among them), and the results have varied from blowing up a watermelon to lots of in-house interviews. So how do businesses benefit from Facebook Live videos?

Facebook’s Product Manager Fidji Simo recently stated in a blog article that Facebook users are commenting “10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos.” This number indicates that live videos give businesses the ability to involve their audience on Facebook better than ever.

Some great examples do exist, which we think can help businesses and organisations to understand the possibilities of Facebook Live. Two wonderful examples of how to use Facebook Live video come from The Met and Martha Stewart Living:

The Met takes the museum fans on pre-tours of new exhibitions..

..and on walk throughs of exhibitions

When the Met gave viewers a pre-tour of its new exhibition “Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World”, it had more than 50 000 people watching, over 3000 likes and 700 comments.

Martha Stewart Living started to do Facebook Live videos approximately once a week after the success of their first video late last year. With Facebook Live videos, the brand has reached an international audience like never before and over the course of just five months, they’ve reached six million people according to a recent presentation by Ruth Feldman, SVP brand development at Martha Stewart Living.

Martha is live with Chef David Chang

These two examples are a great indication of the possibilities of Facebook Live, giving brands new ways to reach and involve their audience. Also, Facebook Live provides you with an opportunity to give your business an authentic face and a more personal feel.

Sky is the limit?

The greatest advocate of Facebook Live is Mark Zuckerberg himself (who’s rumoured to be obsessed with it). He has hosted a Live Q&A with astronauts on the International Space Station and had his first personal Live Q&A on June 14th. At F8 this April, he demonstrated how to record live from a drone – it will now be possible for drones and television broadcast feeds to utilize Facebook Live.

Although previously limited to mobile phones, Facebook Live will now have an open API for developers. This means that videos will have the ability to be streamed to Facebook through alternative hardware such as this Mevo camera, which will start to ship in July.

We’ll only truly begin to see the success of Facebook Live after some time. Facebook is still in the process of rolling out live-streaming. When all the technology is in place, the possibilities could be endless. In the same way that businesses are using Snapchat, Facebook Live can be used to broadcast anything from cat videos to coverage of special events, behind the scenes views…you name it.

One very good reason to be excited about Facebook Live

The more authentic, personal and engaging feel that Facebook Live videos are embracing goes hand-in-hand with the all video experience that consumers currently have a huge appetite for. And the best reason for businesses and marketers to start experimenting with Facebook Live right now? It’s free. Think about it: you have to sponsor your update to make sure you reach as many people who like your page as possible. With Facebook Live videos you can reach most of them at no cost.

Some extra facts about Facebook Live and Periscope:

  • Periscope is Twitter’s own version of a live-streaming app. Periscope allows users to broadcast live to both their Periscope followers, and directly to their Twitter followers from within the Twitter timeline.
  • With both Facebook Live and Periscope offering near-identical features and serving exactly the same purpose, choosing which one to use will depend largely on which social-media platform your company utilizes the most and of course, which set of followers you primarily wish to interact with.
  • Facebook have included an option to invite viewers to ‘subscribe’. Subscribers will then receive a notification next time one of your videos goes live.
  • Periscope users now have the option of saving their broadcast indefinitely by simply adding ‘#save’ to the title of their video.
  • Similarly to Facebook Live, Periscope are currently beta-testing a doodle feature for overlaying on your video.

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Marjaana Laakkonen