10 Big Reasons For Marketers To Like Facebook Live

Here’s why mar­keters should pay par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to Face­book in an increas­ing­ly crowd­ed live stream­ing space.

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 2 comments

Live stream­ing is sud­den­ly one of the hottest mar­ket­ing tick­ets in town. After a slew of recent announce­ments, Face­book has joined the likes of Periscope, YouTube, Blab and more with its live stream fea­ture, Face­book Live, which is report­ed­ly one of the plat­for­m’s high­est pri­or­i­ty ini­tia­tives – and a pet project of Face­book CEO Mark Zucker­berg.

Which of these ser­vices will ulti­mate­ly reign supreme, how­ev­er, remains to be seen.

It’s an inter­est­ing horse race,” said Greg Jar­boe, pres­i­dent of con­tent mar­ket­ing agency SEO-PR. “It start­ed out with Meerkat and Periscope and ear­ly iter­a­tions of Face­book Live, lat­er Face­book Live and now YouTube’s entry is out there, so just one piece of gen­er­al advice: When­ev­er there are that many play­ers in a space, it means it’s a good time to exper­i­ment, but prob­a­bly too ear­ly to pick the win­ner.”

While Jar­boe said he’d pick Face­book and Google as favorites if he was hand­i­cap­ping the race because they already have so many pop­u­lar apps, he not­ed, “The races are left to be run.”

Here’s a clos­er look at how and why Face­book Live is such a strong live stream con­tender.

1. Reach

Facebook’s clear­est advan­tage is size with its 1.6 bil­lion active month­ly users.

Face­book is aim­ing to cre­ate a one-stop shop envi­ron­ment for users,” said Diana Gor­don, senior part­ner and group direc­tor of search and social at media agency Mind­share NA. “Think about it, you can con­nect with fam­i­ly and friends, learn and be informed in the News Feed, find enter­tain­ment through videos and shop – all with­in Face­book.”

How­ev­er, Jar­boe point­ed out it’s real­ly only about 500 mil­lion users a month who have access to video on Face­book giv­en band­width lim­i­ta­tions in some parts of the world, as well as algo­rithm adjust­ments to accom­mo­date users who haven’t inter­act­ed with its videos.

Nev­er­the­less, half a bil­lion peo­ple a month is huge and the abil­i­ty to reach them is one ben­e­fit,” he added.

2. Engagement

Fur­ther, Jar­boe said engage­ment rates on Face­book videos are high­er than they are on YouTube.

So, again, not only do you reach a big audi­ence, but you are more like­ly to have your video con­tent engaged with on Face­book,” he added.

Face­book has high engage­ment rates with live con­tent in par­tic­u­lar, said Randy Mitchel­son, vice pres­i­dent of sales and mar­ket­ing at cre­ative agency iPart­ner­Me­dia.

We have noticed there is a sig­nif­i­cant increase in engage­ment with Face­book Live ver­sus tra­di­tion­al posts, which is result­ing in more audi­ence being attract­ed organ­i­cal­ly rather than hav­ing to buy likes and views,” he said.

3. Targeting

What’s more, mar­keters can pin­point who their Face­book Live streams reach, said Sam Williamson, SEO exec­u­tive at dig­i­tal media agency Aims Media.

So rather than blind­ly ampli­fy­ing your stream through­out Face­book, you can use the ‘Live’ but­ton to select who can see it, help­ing you to reach the right audi­ence,” he said.

In addi­tion, Face­book knows a lot more about its users than Periscope and YouTube do, which allows brands to address their tar­gets more direct­ly, said Andreas Goel­di, CTO at video ad tech firm Pix­a­bil­i­ty.

4. Discovery

Anoth­er clear advan­tage is that it is eas­i­er to sur­face live con­tent with Face­book, said Bri­an Shin, CEO of video per­for­mance ana­lyt­ics firm Vis­i­ble Mea­sures.

Plus, Jar­boe not­ed, Face­book is giv­ing a boost to live video in users’ time­lines.

Face­book Live has an added advan­tage: it is native­ly built into the News Feed.

The wor­ry I’d have if I was Twit­ter is that Face­book has a mas­sive scaled dis­tri­b­u­tion sys­tem – its News Feed – and any­thing in there does well for a short burst in the begin­ning,” Shin said. “One thing Twit­ter could do is to make it eas­i­er for things to live in a his­tor­i­cal or archival con­text.”

How­ev­er, even though tight inte­gra­tion with the News Feed UI and algo­rithm gives Face­book Live a great dis­tri­b­u­tion oppor­tu­ni­ty, Shin not­ed the “good” con­tent still has to rise to the top.

5. Organic Boost

There’s also the added ben­e­fit of help­ing coun­ter­act Facebook’s ongo­ing decrease in organ­ic reach, said David Neu­man, direc­tor of social media ser­vices at dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing agency Prime Vis­i­bil­i­ty.

It’s no secret Face­book keeps decreas­ing organ­ic reach, most recent­ly to about 1 per­cent of your total likes. As of March 1, Face­book pub­licly stat­ed that they are pri­or­i­tiz­ing Face­book Live posts over oth­er con­tent types because of the amount of engage­ment they have gen­er­at­ed,” Neu­man said. “Not only do Face­book Live videos see an organ­ic boost, but your likes get a noti­fi­ca­tion when you start a broad­cast.”

6. User Experience

Plus, 1.6 bil­lion users already know how Face­book works.

Call­ing Periscope “still very much an ear­ly adopter prod­uct,” Goel­di said the scale and vis­i­bil­i­ty of Face­book Live is unprece­dent­ed.

I think the user expe­ri­ence on Face­book is real­ly well defined. I’ve found Periscope to be a bit clum­sy and it has a cer­tain degree of a learn­ing curve, but Face­book real­ly opts to be extreme­ly main­stream,” Goel­di said. “So I think if you want to reach the mass mar­ket, that’s what you want as a mar­keter. If you want to watch a live stream on Periscope, you have to install the app and you have to learn how to use it, but Facebook…is the most pop­u­lar app already and users know it extreme­ly well.”

7. Sharing

The pop­u­lar­i­ty and famil­iar­tiy of Face­book increas­es the like­li­hood of shar­ing live con­tent with oth­er users, Goel­di added.

That’s a pret­ty good start­ing point for viral­i­ty if there is such a thing for live video – it’s much more obvi­ous about how to share con­tent,” he said. “If mar­keters are look­ing for a robust live stream to reach a large audi­ence with a high degree of share­abil­i­ty and a very clean, sim­ple user experience…Facebook is the only game in town.”

8. Breadth Of Features

While oth­er live stream ser­vices offer some of the same fea­tures, Jar­boe not­ed, “When the Face­book Live prod­uct design team got togeth­er, they tried to steal from every­one and picked lots of dif­fer­ent fea­tures that make it inter­est­ing.”

Those fea­tures include:

  • Archiv­ing: Brands can archive a live event on their time­line, so users who weren’t watch­ing live can still see it lat­er. “A lot of peo­ple are see­ing big­ger audi­ences from those who aren’t live, but find it lat­er, so that’s use­ful,” Jar­boe said.
  • Edit­ing: When brands post a live video to their time­lines, they have the option of edit­ing it first. “So you can shoot it live and then you…can cre­ate the high­light reel if you want to, which is a very nifty fea­ture,” Jar­boe added.
  • Thumb­nails: Brands can choose a thumb­nail, which is old hat for tra­di­tion­al videos, but an inter­est­ing add-on for one-time live con­tent, Jar­boe said.
  • Calls to Action: Brands can add a call to action, like “shop now,” “learn more,” or “sign up,” at the end of their videos, which turns them into more valu­able assets, Jar­boe said.

9. Monetization

Face­book is report­ed­ly pay­ing some media com­pa­nies to pro­duce high-qual­i­ty live con­tent, which has led to buzz it plans to even­tu­al­ly mon­e­tize Face­book Live via mid-broad­cast ads such as those seen on TV. That opens up even more oppor­tu­ni­ties for adver­tis­ers to use live video.

They can buy ad space in a live stream, which can be very com­pelling,” Goel­di said. “Like sport­ing events, it’s easy to see an audi­ence that could be very large…and [adver­tis­ers] could reach an indi­vid­ual dur­ing a com­mer­cial break in the live stream, which is unprece­dent­ed in live video con­tent.”

10. Open API

Goel­di also points to Face­book open­ing its API so man­u­fac­tur­ers of cam­eras and video edit­ing equip­ment can eas­i­ly inte­grate their prod­ucts with Face­book Live.

Facebook’s sheer size and mar­ket­ing pow­er real­ly enables them to inte­grate with its API and offer a wide range of dif­fer­ent gear to pro­duce live con­tent, which is fun­da­men­tal­ly dif­fer­ent from Periscope. It is a bit com­pa­ra­ble to YouTube live stream­ing, which already inte­grates with solu­tions as well, but it doesn’t have the same exact poten­tial,” he said.

That’s in part because YouTube live stream­ing is more lim­it­ed to sec­tors like gam­ing, pol­i­tics and sports, Goel­di added.

The open API means Face­book Live users could the­o­ret­i­cal­ly air footage from, say, a drone, Jar­boe said.

This is sort of inside base­ball, but one of the oth­er parts of the API is that you can com­bine Face­book Live with Facebook’s graph API, so, again, down the road, my hope is that peo­ple will cre­ate apps that let you com­bine more visu­al­ly inter­est­ing things than you could on Day 1,” Jar­boe said. “Com­ing soon. Watch this space.”

Luke Wat­son, plat­forms expert at live stream­ing net­work Roker Media, agreed there are sure­ly excit­ing things on the hori­zon for Face­book Live.

If you look at a prod­uct like Periscope, it has remained vir­tu­al­ly unchanged since its debut over a year ago. Sure, embed­ding it in a Twit­ter feed is a big deal, but the fun­da­men­tal fea­tures of the prod­uct have been stag­nant,” Wat­son said. “By open­ing up Face­book Live to the world’s cre­ative and tech­ni­cal genius­es, they guar­an­tee that their prod­uct will con­tin­ue to improve to meet the needs of this fast-mov­ing and fast-chang­ing medi­um, par­tic­u­lar­ly as the cre­ative evolves and new, unfore­see­able needs are revealed.”

This, in turn, means Face­book Live will not just be the plat­form with the largest audi­ence, but the plat­form with the best prod­uct, he added.

Any brand that wants to bet big on Face­book Live has the odds in its favor, but they need to be pre­pared to keep pace with the con­stant changes in tech­nol­o­gy, prod­uct fea­tures and capa­bil­i­ties, which will impact the cre­ative in the ear­ly days of this excit­ing new medi­um,” Wat­son added.

What’s your take on the state of the live stream indus­try and its impli­ca­tions for mar­keters?

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

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