April 2016 saw the launch of the innovative Facebook Live functionality. Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement himself, live via the platform’s new feature (of course). However, we are now over a year on, and despite having plenty of time to get used to it, brands are still not making the most of Facebook Live.

 

As the most popular social media platform worldwide, Facebook enables brands and companies to engage and interact with their audience, showing their human side. Helping brands to appear three-dimensional, Facebook offers the ability to showcase the ‘behind the scenes’ of a company and establish genuine relationships with fans and customers. It’s become a place of interaction, one that works well to raise awareness and build brand familiarity. So, why are some brands still not making the most of the very feature that enables them to communicate authentically with their customers?

Facebook Live is the most sociable and genuine way to communicate key messages to a following; it’s in the moment, as it’s happening, uncut and real. It’s real people conversing and engaging with other real people. Facebook Live works as a window into the inside life of a company, beyond polished exteriors and branding.

So, in addition to forming relationships and cultivating strong brand familiarity why else is Facebook Live worth getting to grips with?

It’s user friendly. 

Whether you’re an experienced Social Media Manager with a whole team behind you or a Marketing Exec at an SME juggling all sorts of marketing outreach, Facebook Live is easy to use. Whether you plan to stream via your phone or you’ve invested in swanky film equipment, Facebook Live has the capabilities to hook up to many different devices and cameras to ensure high quality and effortless streaming.

‘Simulcast’ is a thing.

Facebook Live’s Simulcast function enables Social Media Managers to stream live to more than one Facebook page at a time. Maybe you work for a chain of high street restaurants or a string of contemporary gymnasium start-ups who have individual local Facebook pages as well as an overall umbrella brand page. Simulcast enables you to stream the same live video to all selected pages at once (as long as the facilitating user has admin access to all the desired pages), ideal for expanding reach and exposure!

However, Simulcast must be used strategically, streaming something from a London branch might be irrelevant and unentertaining to followers and customers of a Manchester branch.

Facebook Live is well developed.

Despite being one of many social platforms offering a live experience, Facebook is by far the most developed. The platform’s built in notification system lets users know when a page they like and often interact with is going live. Facebook even has capabilities that allow a page to promote a live video in advance while also letting users set reminders so they don’t forget to tune in. This built in functionality is great for expanding reach and exposure and is ideal for premeditated events and celebrations.

Live lives on.

After finishing a live video, Facebook gives you the option to save the video to your phone’s camera roll, meaning you’ve got it for playback and further marketing use later. Plus, once your live broadcast is over, your video turns into a standard video that lives on your Facebook page like any other post, meaning the content isn’t only available at the time of going live. So, if your biggest fan wasn’t able to tune in for your live stream, they can catch up later!

Who remembers the viral Chewbacca Mom video last year? You can't forget it. This video was originally recorded live, but since the stream stayed on Facebook after live broadcast had finished, it soon became the most watched live video of 2016, racking up 180 million views by the end of the year.

In-house analytics.

Facebook as an overall social platform has well-developed in-house analytics. In addition to the standard Facebook Insights video stats, Live analytics have been refined even further to offer information on peak live viewer figures, total reach, reactions, comments and shares. Having access to this user-friendly analytics dashboard makes it easy for you to see what content works and what doesn’t. Checking in on your analytics is vital to the success of your Facebook strategy; knowing what type of live content your audience responds well to means you can create more of it.

The 4 hour time limit.

Despite other social channels such as Instagram and Periscope also proving popular live video functionalities, Facebook’s set up has been developed for premeditated longer videos with slightly more substance. Instagram, Twitter and Periscope are ideal for spontaneous short live video; people turn to these channels for quick updates and snippet insights of casual and fun stories. Facebook’s unique interface means people are prepared to spend longer watching live videos on the platform. The in-app pre-promotion and reminder system creates hype around live events and therefore cultivates an audience prepared to indulge fully. In fact, Facebook allows users to film up to 4 hours of live content in a single stream, making it the perfect platform for showcasing more timely events such as gigs and conferences.

Eyeballs… and lots of them.

Statistics demonstrate that 1 in 5 Facebook users watch Live videos meaning Facebook is a great way of engaging with your following and getting in front a lot of eyes. In addition to this, Facebook itself reports that people watch live videos for 3 times longer than standard videos.

Great interaction. 

Facebook, unlike some of the other competing social channels, allows you to write a caption along with your video; although simple, a caption is a great way of enticing viewers. Facebook’s live interface also displays comments on the live post in realtime, allowing the subject of the video to communicate and interact with viewers. This feature provides the ability to reply to comments and converse in the moment, lending itself to creating meaningful customer relationship without parameter. In addition, research shows that 85% of people say they are more likely to watch a live broadcast on Facebook than on TV because of the opportunity to get involved and interact! Facebook also reports that comments on live videos increase ten-fold compared to standard video content.

See how these brands have made the most of audience engagement with Facebook Live:

Sephora Cosmetics:

Boohoo:

(Boohoo's Black Friday competition was the most watched live video in 2016, UK)

Facebook Live polls are also a great way to generate interaction; many brands took to using the 2016 US election as a way or engaging with its Facebook audience. 

Guff:

(Learn how to create Facebook Live polls here: http://www.pro-smm.com/how-to-create-a-facebook-live-poll-video/)

Lastly… it’s free.

In such a busy world surrounded by brands and logos, advertising and marketing is a must. With billions being spent on forming customer relationships each year, Facebook Live is a refreshing and low-cost way or connecting with an audience. According to Digitell, 30% of audiences watching the live stream of an event will buy a ticket to attend the physical event the following year. Take Coachella for example; in 2011 it took the festival 3 days to sell all of its tickets. However, that same year Coachella used Facebook Live to steam its events; the consecutive year saw tickets sell out in just 3 hours! 

However, despite Facebook Live being an interactive and engaging feature, there are a few things to watch out for.

The haters.

There are always haters. If you plan to take your brand live, it’s always a good idea to have a Social Media Manager or CRM on hand to answer any questions or defuse any debate that may erupt in the comments. 

Take Target for example; followers we not impressed with their live stream from behind the scenes of a Gwen Stefani music video. Users took this as an opportunity to express their feelings regarding other matters. 

The unpredicted. 

Filming live leaves a little less room for control. Live is uncut and unedited, great for showing an audience a behind the scenes, authentic version of your brand, but not so great for the unplanned F* Bomb. Be aware and prepared for the unpredicted and brief your team and crew thoroughly beforehand. 

Don’t limit yourself.

Although Facebook's capabilities seem much more developed than some of the other platforms, be sure not to rule the others out. Facebook is the most popular social platform with a whopping 1.8 billion user base (360m of which engage with live streams), but other channels such as Instagram are great for light hearted, short live content and should not go unconsidered. 

It is important to understand your audience and know what channels they are spending their time on. For example a majority young female audience may be residing more on Instagram than Facebook. However, young male gamers might be using YouTube Live as a preference. As with any marketing initiative, knowing your customers and understanding their habits, what they like and don’t like is key to getting the most out of any live broadcast.