Facebook Live: A social media tool for business?

A rival to Periscope and Meerkat, Facebook claims its new tool will let you and your business "broadcast to the largest audience in the world"...

What is Facebook Live?

“A fun, powerful way to connect with your followers and create new ones along the way.”

Facebook Live is the new tool released by the social media giant to allow anyone to live stream from their phone, straight to their Facebook audience.

For personal use this could be sharing the first glimpses of a newborn baby straight to your family around the world, or making your friends jealous from the crowd at Lovebox… but it has a serious and very powerful use too, as the BBC said: “Since it became possible for anyone with a smartphone and a decent signal to live-stream video, a number of extraordinary and unpredicted events have been broadcast on social media as they happened.” Including breaking the news of police brutality or the fall of governments.

“A woman in the USA live-streamed the aftermath of the incident in which her boyfriend was shot dead by policemen, with her young daughter sitting in the same car. Lavish Reynolds was able to keep filming even when officers made her kneel on the pavement at gunpoint.”

For brands, Facebook Live is all about customer engagement. As a business, you could share your first prototype being produced from the factory line, or the grand opening of your first shop as the ribbon gets cut.

Although these videos are instant, they are not just temporary. After your live broadcast ends the video remains on your Facebook profile indefinitely, unlike its competitor Periscope. You can even film for up to 90 minutes at a time.

How does Facebook Live work?

Facebook live example

1. Tap “What’s on your mind” at the top of News Feed.
2. Select “Live Video” from the dropdown menu.
3. Add a description and choose your audience before hitting “Go Live.” You’ll see a three-second countdown before your broadcast begins.

Facebook live example 2

It’s as simple as that.

But here are some top tips for getting it right, straight from the horse’s mouth:

  • Tell people ahead of time when you’re going to broadcast
  • Go live when you have a strong connection
  • Write a compelling description before going live
  • Ask your viewers to follow you and receive notifications when you go live
  • Say hello to commenters by name and to respond to their comments
  • Broadcast for longer periods of time to reach more people
  • Be creative and go live often!

Why should I use Facebook Live for my business?

According to Social Media Examiner’s 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report: “Live video is hot: A significant 50% of marketers plan on using live video services such as Facebook Live and Periscope, and 50% want to learn more about live video.”

As we reported a year ago, live video is changing online marketing in a big way. 2015 saw the launch and purchase of Periscope by Twitter, signalling a shift of focus onto live streaming. The issue that Periscope and its smaller rival Meerkat had was getting new users to sign up, so when Facebook realised the potential of live video and launched its own platform it had the immediate advantage of having the audience already there (1.65 billion monthly active users at last count. You don’t have to sign up to anything, you just start streaming. Everything is integrated into one platform, with no need for multiple apps.

As live video is a new type of content for Facebook that they are keen to make a success of, your posts are more likely to get noticed in your audience’s News Feed: “We recently made a small update to News Feed so that Facebook Live videos are more likely to appear higher in News Feed when those videos are actually live, compared to after they are no longer live.” Which will help abate concerns from Facebook business users that they are getting less reach for their content (“62% of marketers either do not know or have seen a decline in Facebook traffic over the last 12 months”, according to 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report.)

You don’t have to just use a smartphone; if creating video is a top priority for your start-up you may have already invested in video tech and software so you’ll be pleased to know that you can integrate it with Facebook Live’s API.

Facebook has recently introduced tangible metrics too.

Who else is using Facebook Live?

One of the Startups 100 winners Vape Emporium had Sky News reporting live from one of their premium London-based vape stores:

Vape Emporium Facebook Live

Watch the video here.

Not only did this provide great content for Sky, giving them the edge over their competitors, it was also fantastic exposure for Vape Emporium as a brand.

Other big brands using Facebook Live which you can use for inspiration are…

1. UniLad Football
2. Martha Stewart Weddings
3. Benefit Cosmetics
4. Dunkin’ Donuts

Any drawbacks?

It’s live!

Unlike when you may have experimented with live videos before, with Facebook Live you’ll be broadcasting to your whole dedicated audience, so be careful, the very last thing you want to do is to turn off the fans you have spent years curating.

Be spontaneous in your videos – that’s what users love – but make sure you properly think through what you want to talk about before you start. No one likes a babbler!

And as always, beware of copyright.

Holly Hathaway is the social media expert at The Internet Works, a boutique digital agency in London. For more information contact the TIW team.

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