Facebook Live is a feature that allows individuals and organisations to share video content in real time; Zuckerberg is reportedly "obsessed" with making it a success. It’s been around since 2015, but has evolved over time to allow users to stream from computers as well as phones, react to broadcasts with “love, haha, wow, sad or angry” emotions, broadcast only to users in a Facebook group or event, and more. These revolutions are part of Facebook’s efforts to challenge YouTube’s dominance of the video space; as Live grows, organisations that make an effort to familiarise themselves now will be rewarded.
While Live is here to stay, it’s worth investigating sooner rather than later because, for now, it’s prioritised by Facebook’s algorithms and completely free to use. By being an early adopter your organisation can signal that you’re across new technologies and willing to take (calculated) risks around the way you communicate.
But, what are you going to stream? Live works particularly well for Q&As, events, product launches, behind the scenes content, or anything else that will give people more of an understanding of your organisation’s people and purpose. It might sound obvious, but don’t go live if you don’t have anything interesting to share or haven’t prepared adequately.
Read on for an introduction to common uses of Facebook Live for organisations, plus success (and horror) stories.
Host your very own Q&As
One of the main things that differentiates Facebook Live from other video platforms is the capacity for viewers to comment and have their questions answered in real time. This level of interactivity gives people the opportunity for air time with an organisation or person they follow, sparks interest and engagement, and makes for compelling viewing (even for those who choose to remain silent).
A whole range of organisations and individuals have successfully hosted live Q&A sessions, from journalists in war torn countries answering viewers’ questions while sharing on the ground footage, to an animal expert answering questions about giraffes from the pen, to Australian government departments…or at least one early adopter.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade recently held a live Q&A with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who answered questions about Australia’s Foreign Policy White Paper. The video was part of a campaign to “make foreign policy less foreign” to a broad cross section of Australian society. So far, it’s clocked up 26,000 views, over 300 reactions, 300 comments and nearly 70 shares – not too shabby for a government report! This high level of engagement highlights the value of Live as a tool to promote and humanise content that may otherwise go unnoticed by the general public.
Live streaming is a powerful way to increase the reach of your event or product launch, or endorse another organisation’s event. It’s also a way to make sure that interested parties who can’t make it on the day for whatever reason – think rural audiences or stay at home parents – aren’t left out. Between The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s guided exhibition tours, Mia Freedman’s cross-generational coverage of the women’s march, and all manner of lectures, press conferences, talks and tours, there’s no limit to what Live enables people to learn from the comfort of their lounge rooms. If you’re streaming something potentially contentious, be aware that Facebook Live allows viewers to react with emojis – be prepared for thumbs ups, tears, and the Sean Spicer red angry face special.
Behind the Scenes
Show your viewers something they and everyone else hasn’t already seen by going behind the scenes. You don’t even have to wait until you’re throwing an event or creating a new product to do this. Notably, Dunkin’ Donutsracked up 3 million views with a live tour of their donut kitchen, and Southwest Airlines managed to turn the cancellation of a number of flights into a positive, with a live peek at how their operations control centre was handling the offending winter storm. Caution: Make sure you have something worth sharing. Clothing chain Target recently went live behind the scenes of a Gwen Stefani film clip they were assisting on; sounds glamorous, but looked like little more than a couple of lacklustre clothing racks (the unrelated angry comments on the video aren’t doing them any favours, either). Also, there is such a thing as too candid – former test cricketers and Channel Nine commentators Shane Warne, Kevin Pietersen and Michael Slater attracted attention for the wrong reasons when they went live in a moving car sans seatbelts. Warney didn’t even have the good sense to take down the video, titled "Ch 9 boys after day 3 in Hobart".