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20 Jul 2016

Facebook Live: What brands can learn from the media

Posted on July 20, 2016 by

Since launching earlier this year, Facebook Live has brought live video streaming to the masses.  Over the past month, it’s gained some serious traction, successfully filling my feed with enviable streams from Glastonbury, garden parties and friends travelling the world.

But while Facebook users have been quick to ‘go live’, Social Media Minute reports that only seven per cent of brands are currently doing the same.

The percentage is shockingly low given the opportunities Facebook Live presents to create a stronger, more personal relationship with audiences by sharing moments in real-time.  According to Facebook, people spend triple the amount of time watching a video when it’s live and Facebook ranks live video higher than video uploads on news feeds.

The analytics are impressive too.  For each live video users can see the peak live viewers, the minutes viewed, unique viewers and average completion percentage, which means brands can see what’s working for their audience and perfect content over time.

So why are so few brands using it?  As with anything new, many companies will be sitting back and watching before taking the plunge.  Some I expect will be fearful of being ‘live’ without the comfort of an editing or approval process and for others, pinpointing content may seem like a struggle.  For Facebook Live or any live streaming to be effective, the longer the video, the better and in a world where we’ve adapted to communicating in 140 characters and video under 60 seconds, the length can seem daunting.

But despite the initial trepidation, live video is worth the challenge when it comes to connecting and interacting with an audience.  Some companies are already experimenting, like Leeds’ own Trinity shopping centre, which live streamed the Ghostbusters promo event from the Everyman cinema last week.  Others are already enjoying a huge, dedicated audience of viewers, from Benefit’s Tipsy Tricks videos to Airbnb’s exclusive Treehouse interviews at the Jungle Book premiere.

Benefit Facebook Live

But while many brands are still waiting and watching, the media are nailing it, which is where marketeers should take note.  Facebook Live is a new kind of TV – one that audiences can interact with and one that’s not limited to scheduled viewing times – so it’s no surprise that publishers have embraced live streaming.

A whopping 42 per cent of the media are using Facebook Live, but what’s interesting is the different kind of broadcasts they are producing; a kind that’s engaging and adds value by giving the audience something unique – be it a new perspective, a different narrative or exclusive content.

So if you’re thinking of exploring Facebook Live for your brand, here are some of the things we can learn from the media when it comes to streaming.

Show things from a different perspective

As a professional broadcast journalist, it’s no surprise that Robert Peston is cracking live streaming.   Peston’s first-person, documentary-style broadcasts (complete with Selfie narratives – naturally) are captivating.  And yes, he may have the content on a plate but what’s interesting, and why it works so well on Facebook Live, is how Peston is giving viewers a different perspective on the news stories he’s reporting.

Peston didn’t simply stream Theresa May’s first speech as prime minister, but also the walk to Downing Street, the media setting up on roadside and the bigger ‘scene’ as the news unfolded.  Which means the story is no longer just about the three minute limited time slot we see on the evening news or the Tweets about it happening – it’s about the whole picture and the added context of Peston’s experience.

Robert Peston Facebook Live

Understand your audience and what’s captivating to them

At the complete opposite of the spectrum, Buzzfeed is successfully exploring Facebook Live through an in-depth understanding of its audience and what they want from the Buzzfeed media brand.

It’s ‘Watermelon Experiment’ stream being an outstanding example of streaming content that’s appealing to the audience.  It turns out what’s interesting to Buzzfeed’s followers is tying rubber bands around a watermelon until it eventually explodes, but I can’t judge, I watched it for almost 20 minutes!

Buzzfeed Facebook Live

The video currently stands at almost 11 million views, proving live streams don’t need celebrities or big budgets, they simply need to connect and captivate the target audience.

Give people something exclusive

While Peston’s inspiring journalism and Buzzfeed’s audience insight makes for unique content, it’s clear that providing exclusive, teaser streams will be a major draw for audiences on Facebook Live.

This is something sports broadcasters in particular are embracing on Facebook Live. Gary Lineker revealed Match of the Day’s running order on Facebook Live late last year and since then the BBC has taken to Facebook Live to offer a number of exclusive interviews from its Sports Centre.

But exclusive doesn’t have to mean celebrities or red carpets, it’s about taking your audience somewhere they’ve never been before on Facebook.  The BBC streamed behind-the-scenes content from the Wimbledon queue, encouraging engagement by taking questions from people watching, gaining 27,000 viewers.

So if you’re not sure where to start, or need some inspiration on what to stream, get watching the publishing pros and if you’re watching a live video you like, tap or click ‘subscribe’ to get notified the next time the user starts a live broadcast.

Facebook’s tips for live streaming can be found here.

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