Facebook Live

As you re-orient following the holidays ready to polish up and execute your 2016 news, marketing and digital strategies take note of the latest major change coming to your Facebook brand page. Facebook just made this announcement on widening your brand page capabilities by adding the LIVE component. If your brand page is not yet enabled you can fire it up as several stations have already started.  Following an inquiry with Facebook this week they said “Make sure the admins update their Facebook app. They just see the Live option when they hit "status".

For many stations and broadcast networks this live effort has existed for verified talent pages and many of you have experimented with it using both that and Twitter’s Periscope for community event coverage or behind the scenes during newscasts. Now, it’s time to evolve out of the experimental phase and recognize that the two primary networks, Facebook and Twitter, have erased any barriers that existed between broadcaster and consumer LIVE capabilities. Twitter has Periscope and now Facebook offers Facebook LIVE.

In every market SmithGeiger tests Facebook is by far the most ubiquitous social platform and stations have gotten more sophisticated tapping into what is a largely female engagement opportunity.  There is plenty of research and anecdotal evidence of how powerful social media and Facebook specifically can be in increasing brand recognition, affinity and TV viewing. Since Facebook is the social goliath with the greatest opportunity to improve your market impressions and penetration let’s focus on how you can use Facebook LIVE to tweak your news, marketing and digital strategies for 2016:

1.      How will you use your brand page(s) and talent pages to build awareness of your content?

Those “behind the scenes” connections used in the experimental phase have limited value. Some stations do them almost daily as pure marketing efforts often pushing morning newscasts.  But, there is so much more opportunity here to build immediate audience and engagement.  Chris Kraft, the president of the social media measurement tool Share Rocket stresses, “The real power in Facebook LIVE is beyond the broadcast style pushing of content. The real power is in the two way interaction and encouraging your fans to share the content in the moment.” 

So, consider these as you build your 2016 strategy for both planned and unplanned coverage:

  • Your TSR plan - Fold Facebook LIVE into your checklist of platforms that will help get the word out about your highest profile efforts. In addition to web, mobile app alerts, Twitter and Facebook text/image/video posts add FB LIVE as a component along with your on-air topicals, radio, or other outside media efforts to get maximum reach. Consider how it can help you in the hour leading up to its airing, during the airing and immediately after the airing. Will it be on your verified brand page or the talent page or both? FB LIVE can help increase reach but more importantly it can build an unparalleled two-way engagement that not only results in greater viewing, but grass roots marketing and ongoing ideas for follow-up stories. In many ways Facebook LIVE is the modern day version of the “chat”.
  • BIG planned event coverage - Whether it’s the community effort you are involved in or the annual big event like a marathon or festival. How will those efforts distinguish from your on-air? Again, as you plan those big events lay out a Facebook LIVE strategy before and during the event as part of the social choreography that taps into your fans’ use of simultaneous platforms.


  • Breaking News and Weather coverage - Facebook LIVE adds to your “always on” and urgency profile as you help make new the social experience millennials and many female switchables now expect.

Imagine there’s an ammonia truck that has turned over and has shut down a local highway.  To augment your break-ins on television, your web and mobile posts, your Facebook posts and Tweets consider what your Facebook LIVE profile will look like. Perhaps after the on-air live shot the reporter or anchor stays on Facebook LIVE answering questions and harvesting information from fans while strongly encouraging them to share this safety issue with other friends and fans.

Many stations are making it standard operating procedure ahead of forecast severe or winter weather to engage with fans on the talent Facebook pages. Now, you’ll want to consider whether it would be better to isolate your brand page for that effort for an hour.


2.      How will Facebook LIVE be different from your app’s live stream? 

Remember, while Facebook builds affinity and brand it is not monetized like your app. So, have the internal discussion on how to provide something additive that they can’t get on TV or your app.  Taking that same ammonia truck disaster you might want to lay out tactics for short, medium and long bursts. 
SHORT - Use television for the 10 second to two minute live updates. 
MEDIUM - Use Facebook LIVE to include those updates and tell viewers you will stay with them on Facebook LIVE and the station app. On Facebook LIVE stay on an additional 5-10 minutes talking directly to viewers answering questions, gathering information and encouraging them to share this post. Use Facebook LIVE to help migrate fans to your app or air.
LONG - Use your app for the more robust live streaming - anchors, maps, phoners - the kind of live coverage you would do on television but don’t want to take over the entire programming for the event.

3.      How will Facebook LIVE be used as a viable tool for your marketing department?  

Whether you are debuting a set or a new primary anchor or even embarking on a station campaign to increase awareness of leaving children in hot cars Facebook LIVE can reach people on a more personalized and emotional level.

4.      How long will the event last? 

We have ample evidence that videos on Facebook generally are best in “snackable” form. That means :15 to :20 second videos can perform well but start to drop off precipitously after that unless it’s thoroughly compelling content.

Facebook LIVE is different. It’s new so you will have to monitor Insights and/or your social media measurement tools like Share Rocket to see how it performed by itself and versus other market content. Obviously, some of this depends on content - the ammonia truck may be best at 5-10 minutes with advance promotion ahead of that event and any further social updates. For now, Facebook cuts off the feed at an hour.

For further Facebook LIVE tactics recommended by Facebook share this with your team.

News has become a social experience. Posting, commenting and sharing are as natural as viewing and are critical to today’s journalism effort. Certainly one of the weapons to add to your Digital First profile in  2016 will be Facebook LIVE. Remember it is not a broadcast - it’s about engaging with fans on daily, special event and breaking coverage to build brand loyalty and get incremental on-air viewing.