It was a safe bet when pundits put the continued growth of video on their lists of predictions for 2016. It still is. Just look at Facebook. Late last month during a Q4 earnings call Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg noted his 1.59 billion monthly active users and 1.44 billion mobile monthly active users were logging 8+ billion video views daily, equating to 100 million hours of video. Not a surprise then that Zuckerberg said a bit later that Facebook is considering a dedicated spot solely for video viewing.
Soon after, on January 28, Facebook product manager Vadim Lavrusik, in a post, unveiled details of Facebook’s Live video service, available for “everyone in the U.S. via iPhone.” [Facebook had offered Celebrities and Verified Pages a version of Live for several months.]
Akin to Periscope, Live allows users to broadcast events in real time. Unlike Periscope, whose vids expire after 24 hours, Facebook’s can be saved and archived indefinitely on users’ Timelines. News Feed will allow Facebook users to discover Live videos from friends and celebs they follow. “While watching a live video, you can tap the Subscribe button to get notified the next time the broadcaster goes live.”
The implications of Live for PR pros seem apparent: There’s a new, seemingly easy way for influencers and fans to share your brand’s message via live video on the world’s largest social network. And with saveable videos, Live seems to be a plus for brands, or anyone hoping to rack up large numbers of views. We asked PR pros, all of whom will be panelists at PRN’s Visual Storytelling Bootcamp later this month in Huntington Beach, CA, what brands should be doing to best capitalize on Live.
1. Experiment, but Stay Flexible: “Facebook still is finalizing details, so now is the time to get experience on Live and other platforms.” YouTube and other video platforms remain “just as relevant.” In fact, the competition between sites could offer big opportunities for PR pros, she says.
2. Choose the Platform That Works Best for Your Brand: Similar to measurement tools, there are choices in video platforms. Arledge-Powell advises choosing the one that fits your brand best. “Facebook Live is the hottest new enhancement…it’s also pretty easy to use…after the success of Periscope and Meerkat, it’s not surprising that Facebook would jump into the game as well…PR pros should try them all, monitor the latest advancements and choose the platform where your brand receives the highest ROI.” Testing Live on your personal site is a good move, as is monitoring how other brands, public figures and news outlets are using it. She’s keen on CNN’s Live post last week where Dr. Sanjay Gupta fielded questions from viewers in the comment section.
3. It’s an Experience, Part I: Use video to enhance consumers’ experience. It’s important to interact with viewers. “Live and other Facebook video enhancements allow your followers to feel included in private, behind-the-scenes moments. Whenever deciding the video content, create it to make sure followers know that they’re a part of the experience.” Arledge-Powell also favors broadcasting longer when using Facebook Live. “The longer the broadcast, the more viewers will watch,” she says. Still, before starting a Live broadcast, plan a set amount of time to shoot.
Deputy Director, DoD Social Media
Defense Media Activity
4. It’s an Experience, Part II: For McGinnis, Live is yet another step in the evolution of social media and a chance to “give people a more personal connection…you want them to feel like they’re right there [at a live event] in real time.”
She also agrees with Arledge-Powell about picking a video platform. “Know your brand’s objectives and what you want to do with video,” she says. Brands also must “weigh the pros and cons” regarding privacy when deciding on video.
5. Be Choosy: The proliferation and ease of video means, though, PR strategists should pick “exclusive moments” to deploy video using Facebook, Vine or Periscope. Look for events that most people won’t experience, she says. Even with events open to the public, there are moments that the general public won’t be privy to. An example, McGinnis says, is when Pearl Harbor memorial activities were streamed live to a defense site, yet her unit did a Periscope session from a part of the 74th annual ceremonies that was open only to select people. Closed events, with permission, of course, are prime targets for live video, she says.
Director, Social, Digital Strategy
Moore Communications Group
6. The Future? Wisehart agrees with Arledge-Powell about experimenting first with your personal iPhone and then on various platforms, although she wonders about Periscope’s financial viability without archiving videos. Live’s “archiving is huge,” she says.
CONTACT: @LisaArledge firstname.lastname@example.org @MWisehart
This article originally appeared in the February 8, 2016 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.