Jillian Lewis
This is a post by Jillian Lewis
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When Zuckerberg and Co launched Facebook Live in August 2015, they obviously had high expectations for the technology, hoping everyone would live-stream their daily life straight to their Facebook page in the same way millennials had already started to embrace Snapchat’s Stories.

To inspire uptake, Facebook then linked up with more than 140 media companies, celebs and influencers to produce live content. While these kind of relationships might help to familiarise the new tech with the masses, they didn’t quite result in everyone following suit. So what Facebook did next is encourage brands to jump on board.

FB Live not only gives brands the chance for their followers to see a different side of their company, but there’s little doubt it can increase organic reach when partnering with an influencer in order to add authenticity. Plus, when a page streams live content, FB automatically sends a notification out to all of their followers while its algorithm prioritises the live streaming video in the feed of followers.

So, this all begs the question: which brands are utilising FB Live most effectively and what are some of the important factors to consider when creating a Facebook Live campaign? 

As a content agency already leveraging the technology with a number of clients, we’ve picked up a few things along the way. In fact, we continue to learn every time we use Facebook Live, which is one aspect of the technology that makes its so appealing. But the most obvious is that any live content carries with it an inherent risk… you never really know what’s going to happen. With that in mind, here’s what you need to consider when planning a FB live post in order to minimise the unexpected.

Consider the viewer

It seems obvious, but just because it’s a big deal to your brand doesn’t mean it will make riveting viewing for your audience. It might end up that your content is better off posted as an engagement post, a boomerang or a properly edited video that only shows only the highlights afterwards (such as is the case for an awards ceremony or a speech). Choose wisely or you could end up with a video that has very few views, no comments and only ends up on your FB page for everyone to witness the boredom.

Consider the content again

It’s that important. Remember that Facebook Live posts stay on your page as archived footage – which is great when the content is exciting; but not so great when your video isn’t captivating. Of course you can always take it down, but then what was the point of doing it in the first place? Weighing up the short-term and long-term appeal of your FB Live post is important.

Plan ahead

Just because it’s “live” doesn’t mean you can’t plan.  In fact, it means you should plan as much as you can. Many brands are using FB Live as a chance to host an interactive Q&A. While these are great, on the off-chance your audience isn’t that engaged you need to be ready with a moderator and an extensive list of questions to work through until you trigger some real viewer participation.

Importantly, remember to thoroughly test your entire set-up in advance. For example, do you need a tripod (shaking cam is never a good look for a static shot)? Have you considered the frame of the shot (ie. what’s going on in the background and is it on-brand), have you tested your volume (are you competing with any background noise?) and how’s your lighting look (you don’t want the subject of your shoot being backlit so their features are hard to see)?

Promote in advance

Letting your audience know you’re planning a FB live post is essential if you want to create hype. The trick is ensuring you don’t promote too far in advance as most people aren’t going to change their plans just so they can watch a FB live post. But if they spot a post about it in the near future, they may well check back in to see how it unfolds. With that in mind, try promoting your FB Live post a few times starting 48-24 hours in advance, then sporadically nudging your audience with reminders as you get closer to the event.

Analyse the data

Once your live stream is over, take advantage of the metrics offered to you by Facebook. You’ll be able to see how many people viewed the video, for how long and for how many minutes, as well as reactions, comments and shares. Then, think about the timing of your video stream and experiment differently with future live streams to see if you can increase your reach.

Now, let’s look five great ways FB live has been used by brands.

1) Dunkin Donuts

As a company, Dunkin Donuts has used the technology a few times with great success. Their live videos give a tour of the head office and an oddly satisfying lesson on how to make a Valentine’s Day donut cake.

2) The LADbible
Who would have thought 35 minutes of watching ice cream melt would be so fascinating. But with 6.3million views, everyone wanted to know which ice-cream would hold up best in the sun. In good news, as an archived video you can speed to the end and find out more quickly it was the… [spoiler removed].

3) McDonald’s
In this FB Live stream, Maccas did a spoof of Bob Ross’s old TV show that showed him painting a scene and describing it with calming language. In this video, the painting was done by  “The Starving Artist” and shows him painting a McDonald’s burger. It’s had 1.6 million views. Yes, really.

4) Buzzfeed
In a 45-minute video with more than 800,000 viewers watching at the same time, Buzzfeed blew up a watermelon. Read about how everyone went insane about it here.

5) Costco

Live-streaming during the store opening created a real buzz about Costco’s new store opening in Dallas, Texas. While it’s a bit chaotic (and a prime example of how important it is to test volume in advance), it still amassed more than 100,000 views and created the hype intended.

As for everyday users jumping on the Facebook Live bandwagon, with every technology there comes the unexpected. And while Facebook might have originally envisaged users live-streaming the happily mundane minutia of their everyday lives, the tech has also attracted attention for highlighting the darker element of society. In the US, Facebook Live has been used to live stream arrests, riots and police shootings.

When it comes to the Internet, you just never know what’s going to be a huge hit. And when Candace Payne used Facebook Live to show off the unboxing of her new Star Wars Chewbacca mask, no one expected it to go as viral as it did.  Even today, it stands as the most popular live-stream ever posted on Facebook. Just four minutes long, it has since clocked more than 167 million views.

As we all know, no matter what you plan, you can never guarantee a viral hit. But what you can do is ensure your content is funny, informative or just plain entertaining. In that sense, while Facebook Live might be a new format, the same old rules apply.