The Cold-Scroll Reality of Facebook Live

In Facebook Live, PR professionals and marketers have found an effective tool to engage and entertain audiences like never before. It doesn’t matter what kind of brand you are as long as you understand the medium, how it works and how it is different from other broadcast platforms.

Chris Jackson is a strategic and creative social specialist with more than 10 years of experience in devising and managing social and digital strategies for lifestyle, tech and consumer brands. As SVP, social media strategy and analytics, at FleishmanHillard, Jackson specializes in creating social strategies founded on social data and insights to deliver plans that achieve both communication and commercial objectives. He will be one of the presenters at PR News' Facebook Boot Camp Aug. 9 in San Francisco, speaking on the topic, “How to Use Facebook Live to Engage and Delight.”

In this recent Q&A, he addresses some issues on the minds of anyone considering adding Facebook Live to their communications arsenal.

Chris Jackson
Chris Jackson, SVP, social media strategy and analytics, FleishmanHillard

PR News: What are the marketing advantages of Facebook Live?

Chris Jackson: If set up correctly, Facebook Live videos have the potential to generate higher levels of engagement for brands, which can simultaneously help brands increase their organic reach.

PR News: What are the keys to using it successfully to meet your marketing objectives?

Jackson: To truly succeed at Facebook Live, you need to create something that speaks to your audience and grabs their attention while they’re scrolling through their feed. Because Facebook Live is live, this can scare brands, so they tend to play it safe.

I think many brands have also interpreted Facebook Live as being like TV and have taken a chat show approach to it. Facebook Live and TV could not be more different.

First, for Facebook Live you need to design it to work sound-off, understand that your audience will be joining cold and that they are most likely going to be distracted. Because of this, you need to design your Facebook Live in a way that overcomes these challenges.

There are a few brands out there doing Facebook Live, like the clothing brand Superdry and the publisher Unilad. Both brands have been able to attract huge audiences, with 200K-5M views, which then offer a huge opportunity for them in terms of building audiences off those who have viewed and engaged on Facebook.

PR News: What is the optimum timeframe for Facebook Live compared with other social media?

Jackson: Facebook Live works best for a short period of time between 20-60 minutes, whereas Instagram Stories and Snapchat work best when the timeframe is split out over the course of the day.

At PR News' Aug. 9-10 Facebook Boot Camp and Media Summit in San Francisco you'll hear from social media experts at Adobe, Macy's, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, IBM, Paypal, Twitter, THX, Audubon Society, Clif Bar, Logitech and more.

PR News: When is it best to ramp up production values?

Jackson: Production value is always important, but invest in the video content rather than how it is filmed. People will forgive a bit of background noise if the video makes them laugh, cry or LOL.

PR News: How do you identify content that is broadcast-worthy?

Jackson: View it not as the brand or the client, but as someone coming to the video cold. Would they know what is happening, would you stick around, would you engage? If you have any hesitation, then rethink it. Facebook Live needs to be simple to get and thumb-stopping. If it’s boring, it’s pointless.

PR News: How do you successfully train influencers and brand ambassadors to be a hit on your Facebook Live broadcast?

Jackson: Test, test, test. Beyond that, rather than train people for Facebook Live, think about the people you select. Ideally look for people who have TV or radio broadcast experience. You need people who are quick on their feet and interesting enough to hold people’s attention. It’s almost guaranteed that if you are bored, then your audience will be as well.

Jim Alkon is a contributing writer for PR News and Editorial Director of, a website where readers discover emerging authors.