Early last April, 1.32 billion Facebook users suddenly found live video as easily accessible as uploading a photo when Mark Zuckerberg’s company made it available to non-VIP users for the first time. By placing the ‘Live’ function on equal footing with the photo uploader, Facebook left no-one guessing when they announced what they thought would be the next big thing. With around 100 million hours of video watched daily, it’s no wonder broadcasters have begun to experiment with the feature.
Possibly the best thing about Facebook Live is that almost all types of content work. Of the 165 Facebook Live Streams we have been involved with since April of last year, I would say the key is to ensure content is engaging to your particular audience, and of the right length. Facebook has become a valuable tool for broadcasters looking to increase their audience, partly because of the soft viewers attracted to their content, by core viewers’ engagement in the form of shares, likes and comments.
Growing your audience
In our experience, Facebook Live delivers a much bigger audience than other social networks’ live features. Although not without challenges, it can certainly help increase consumer engagement, particularly for those brands with an established following on Facebook whose audience is then very easily accessed and targeted. Undoubtedly, it also helps that Facebook already knows the gender, age and location of the user watching a video. When it comes to targeting content to niche communities, there aren’t many social networks that could top it.
From what we’ve seen, Facebook has a particular advantage when it comes to increasing a brand’s reach. Good content, either interactive or timely, should hit live views of around 15% of the total page likes. This is, of course, based upon good promotion of the stream before it goes live or, better still, a call to action. A live stream will inherently target a specific audience but by design, some fans’ friends become an audience too. Any engagement with the live stream will grab the attention of what we call ‘soft viewers’, who are likely to share common interests with their Facebook friends and therefore have some level of interest in the content.
What’s so special about Live?
According to Digital Doughnut, video posts are 80% more engaging than photos and 30% more engaging than text statuses. But to really get an idea of the power of live streaming, we tend to look at the level of engagement on live posts compared with those on recorded videos. Prior to the release of ‘Live’ to non-VIP users, DigiDay conducted a helpful analysis of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s Facebook page over a 30-day period. Interestingly, of the 19 videos he posted, the most engaged with was a 32-minute long live video. Over 9% of the video’s total interactions came from comments, while only 1.71% was the average for his other nine most shared videos. This points towards another level of engagement, in that commenting is a significantly more meaningful action than liking or sharing.
Aside from encouraging more meaningful engagement, live videos are particularly useful to individuals like ‘The Rock’ whose image is essentially their brand. Live video suggests to consumers that it presents, by default, an organic and unedited version of the self. What I mean by this is that although ‘The Rock’s’ video was certainly planned to the nth degree, when done right, live streaming builds trust between fans and an individual by creating a direct, real-time link between the two.
We’ve also found that the optimal length of a live video differentiates to that of a recorded video. When it comes to social media, the assumption is that shorter is always better; this is not actually the case. In our experience, videos of 20-45 minutes in length perform the best, reaching an audience within the millions, under the right conditions. Any shorter and the audience begins to fall, reaching only a few thousand once the stream length falls under eight minutes.
Personalisation is something likely to become even more important over the next few years. Most social media users want personalised content specific to their interests, and without a doubt, Facebook has a role to play here. With so much content available nowadays, users can quickly become swamped. Targeted content goes someway to solving this issue. Facebook is already able to push recommendations of pages to follow and friends to connect with, plus it has a pretty good idea of what you like to watch, as well as more highly personal information. As a broad trend, consumers are getting used to having much of their daily activities personalised towards them and it seems likely that this will increase, particularly in terms of targeted video content. For advertising, this could mean a new level of sophistication.
By Jake Ward, business development director, Groovy Gecko
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