TLDR: Facebook Live is a new one-to-many video broadcasting tactic on social media, following on the heels of Meerkat and Periscope. It may succeed where others have stalled thanks to brands who like this new way to communicate with millions of Facebook fans. Just be real. It’s video of the second, built for authentic moments.

Facebook has 1.6 billion users. It now wants to revolutionize how they share video.

It’s tough to know whether marketers should get excited about new social networks such as Google+, which most often fade away, or especially the little new nuances inside current networks. Twitter’s “Moments” section has little traction. Vine has faded to a collection of wannabe comics. But Facebook, well, has a way of sticking. When Facebook peeled off its internal messaging function as a separate app in 2014, people groaned, and now Facebook Messenger is the third-most popular mobile app globally with 800 million monthly users.

So pay attention to Facebook Live. Live is, at heart, a one-way video call you can make inside Facebook to project video captured by your phone outward. But unlike other video call features (such as Apple’s FaceTime), Facebook’s Live is a one-to-many video projection, in which you can share your video moment with all of your friends or fans. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to instantly see the appeal to brands, especially those with experientially leaning products or celebrity endorsers.

Sometimes the police interview him just because they find him interesting.

Because Facebook Live is relatively new, it creates the illusion of a special event tied to scarcity. If only the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World were still in business, we could watch him Live on his one-way voyage to Mars.

This is so exciting … wait, you’ve see this before? Yep.

More than a year ago, Twitter launched Periscope, a similar live-video-broadcasting service that would pump video feeds through Twitter links. One of our strategists was surprised while giving a speech at SXSW in Austin to find out later an audience member had tweeted he “was now live” on video.

Twitter launched the free Periscope app in March 2015, with many of the same features as Facebook's new Live video service.

Periscope seemed like an instant hit. More than 1 million people joined the service in its first 10 days. It even had its own “in” lingo: users were called Scopers, live-casts were called Scopes, and broadcasts could be tapped with “hearts” that would add up to change the color of the video. (Well, you get it, game mechanics that provide addictive feedback, like that little red numbered square at the top of your Facebook feed.) By September 2015, Periscope had 10 million registered users.

Periscope in turn was a me-too copy of Meerkat, and handily beat that early first video-broadcast-social app at its own game. And now Periscope risks being beaten by Facebook’s Live.

Will Facebook win the social video race?

Live has several advantages: first, Facebook has 1.6 billion monthly active users, five times Twitter’s audience, and second, it has spent several years ensnaring brands in building fan pages who now will be interested in leveraging their contacts with users. And with television still being the king of all media, you can see why Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat are racing to get more video in the hands of mobile social media users … because little video ads will of course fit nicely against this content.

But Live has a few challenges. After a brand’s first “Live” broadcast intercepts a fan in his or her stream, users must opt-in (by clicking a button) to be notified in the future when, say, Pepsi decides to send a broadcast Live. Because the supply of marketers who wish to broadcast to consumers always outstrips the demands of consumers to hear their message, we wonder what the ongoing appetite for Live reception will be. Facebook, in its own advice for people and brands on how to use Live, suggests you “broadcast for longer periods of time to reach more people” and “be creative and go Live more often!” … which we think means there may be too many Live-casts soon.

The best applications of Live we’ve seen so far are when brands, celebrities or news organizations use the intimacy of a video feed on Facebook to take users behind the scenes. Carson Daily has walked his fans backstage at The Today Show. Noted Univision journalist Jorge Ramos has shared the backstory of his news reporting. And comedian Ricky Gervais has taken his fans into, er, the bathtub.

So think of Live as a fluid, intimate video experiment...

One in which you can broadcast your brand’s most intimate moments to fans most likely to be interested. We suggest a behind-the-scenes nugget that contains real events, and not an overly produced video vignette.

In other words, if you use Facebook Live, consider the user experience—someone scanning social media, looking for light content—and make your video friendly and intimate. The phone lights up. A friend is Live, sharing an authentic moment. Recreate that feeling by making your video real. Unless you are The Most Interesting Man in the World, in which case, we want to see the inside of the rocket.

Created By
Ben Kunz

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