During a conference call to announce Facebook’s second-quarter earnings results last week, Mark Zuckerberg revealed how important live video has become to the company. “We see a world that’s video-first,” he told analysts. Competing live video services like Periscope have been around for a while, but the entry of Facebook into this field is significant. For one thing, Facebook has vastly bigger reach than any other network, and for another, people engage much more with content, including video on Facebook than they do on other channels.
Every time a new way of communicating and sharing information becomes popular, it is wise for PR professionals to take note. In the case of Facebook Live, there are certainly some opportunities and risks to be aware of.
If a picture says a thousand words, video says everything. Video, especially when it's live and unedited tells a story in a very raw and real way. If you can encourage your customers to post live video on Facebook related to a positive experience with your product, you have the opportunity to connect with your audience on an emotional level.
A great example is the must-see laughing -Chewbacca-mask lady (Candice Payne). This video of a woman sitting in the parking lot of Kohl’s having a great time trying on a Chewbacca mask has generated millions of views and shares. Suddenly Chewbacca masks were in high demand, selling out in some stores, and going for hundreds of dollars in others. It was the kind of honest, unscripted moment of joy that you just can’t fake. Kohl’s ceased the opportunity and presented Candice and her family with a pile of gifts (while streaming on Facebook Live, of course).
In terms of brand-generated content, Facebook Live gives you the opportunity to connect more closely with customers by giving them a behind the scenes look at your company. It’s an effective way to let your audience get to know you as people and create the feeling of a closer, more human relationship.
Facebook Live isn’t only used for feel-good moments. It was also used to capture the shooting deaths of Philando Castile and five Dallas police officers this month. How is this relevant to brand PR? If any member of your organization is out in public, they could be being broadcast live at any time. Customer service interactions may be broadcast. Vehicles with the company logo out driving around might get air time. It’s no longer “film at eleven.” It’s film every day and any time. It is important for PR teams to help the entire organization understand how damaging a negative customer experience can be if it is live streamed.
There is also the risk of missed opportunities. If a customer posts a great video of your product or employee will you know it exists in order to promote it? Not every cool mention of your brand will go viral, so you need to have the right social media monitoring tools in place so that you can make the most out of the content your customers create.
Finally, brands can miss the point on social media when it comes to tone. A Facebook Live post that is over produced, or too “sales-y” will easily backfire. It is best to try to use each network and way of sharing in the way that your customers do.
Like every other social sharing service before it, Facebook Live can be a gift or a burden. PR pros must be resourceful and vigilant to create compelling original content and capitalize on posts shared by customers and influencers.