With a million minutes of video uploaded to the Internet every minute (by 2021, according to Cisco), video content is obviously important. It’s also easy to get your video lost amongst the massive amount of content that is being produced.
A quarter of people on Facebook watch a video every day — that’s 500 million people. Within four years, video will account for 80 percent of all consumer Internet traffic, although part of that is due to the large file size and the demand for higher resolution. Thirteen percent of all video traffic will be live streaming video.
A large proportion of that will be for services like Netflix, but it’s also due to the rise of services like Facebook Live, which allow people to stream videos easily to a large audience. It’s rise in popularity and how useful it is means that Facebook Live should be used by businesses of all sizes.
Here are some of that advantages of using Facebook Live for business:
1. Low production cost
One of the main benefits of Facebook Live is that you can do it from your phone. You don’t need to buy a lot of fancy equipment or have any specialized knowledge — you can just hit a few buttons and you’re good to go.
Facebook Live has been going since August 2015 and people are now familiar with the low-fi aesthetic of the service, meaning that people aren’t expecting high production values. You can even stream from your car (although it’s not recommended).
That doesn’t mean that you can’t have any production value. You can use filters and augmented reality features to insert masks, much like you can with Snapchat when you deliver your videos.
If you have the technical team to do it, you can even produce augmented reality filters for your audience to use and promote your product in their own Facebook Live streams.
You can also put production value into your Facebook Live events, by having production design, scripted events and even created banners and sets. Due to the immediate nature of Facebook Live, planning and money up front can seem even more effective than in a produced video.
2. Reasonable expectations
When Facebook Live launched in August 2015, it paid content creators to populate the new service. Buzzfeed was paid $3.1 million and their highest watched video was of two people sitting at a table wrapping rubber bands around a watermelon, waiting for it to explode.
The video had 807,000 people watching it during its 45-minute runtime and got more than 315,000 comments. Buzzfeed has its own production studio and it obviously had a budget — but that isn’t expected on Facebook Live — what it’s about is capturing things that are happening right now.
So, even the most watched video had very low production values. That means if you just had a great meeting with a client, or have a great idea that you want to share, then you can do it instantly and not have to worry that it’s a little rough around the edges.
3. You can do it anywhere
The ‘Chewbacca Mom’ video, a mom reviewing a toy, was filmed in a car — and it was the most watched Facebook Live video of 2016, with more than 160 million views. It was a spontaneous moment that was captured, on a Smartphone — in a car sitting in a parking lot.
That means you can do a Facebook live from your office, or out and about — wherever you feel you have something to share that will interest your audience and reinforce your core brand values.
4. Facebook Live from your computer
In October 2016, Facebook introduced screen sharing. With an extension in a browser like Chrome, you can now share what you are doing on the screen you are using, or even on just one Internet tab.
The plugin started with basic functionality — you can’t do a video picture in picture for example — but it does provide opportunities for businesses. It means that you can do a live walk through of your website and its functionality, for example.
You can also use this to do an online tutorial. For instance, show off your skills on Photoshop if you are a graphic artist. It’s also something you can use to talk to your clients in an exclusive Facebook group so you can answer their questions and give them real examples of the types of things they should be doing to improve their business — this is great if you are a consultant.
5. Social proof and interactions
One of the reasons that social media works is because even the adverts don’t seem like adverts, they appear more like items that come from people you know on social media. The formatting of the ads helps with that, but the main thing that sells it is social proof and interactions from real people.
When you see people interacting with content (especially in real time) then that content is taken more seriously. People prefer to watch videos — four times more than they like to read, in fact. They are also likely to watch a live video three times longer than they will watch a pre-recorded video. Facebook says people are 10 times more likely to comment on a Facebook Live video.
People are more likely to interact with a real person doing something real in real time. Once you have finished making the video, that social interaction stays there, meaning a well promoted Facebook Live video can instantly have a large amount of social proof if you decide to boost that post later.
6. Top of the news feed
Another benefit of putting out Facebook Live videos is that it prioritizes them, not only on your own feed, but on the feed of people who follow you. It drops back down when the live stream stops, but it’s a great way of putting your content front and center without having to pay for the exposure.
If your content is good, then people will share your stream in real time so their friends and colleagues can see what is going on — then it will appear at the top of their news feeds too.
7. Live subscribe
If you regularly put up Facebook Live videos, then you can offer people who follow you the chance to use the ‘Live Subscribe’ button. This means that when you are going live with new content, people will be notified if they are on social media.
To get the best out of this feature (and Facebook Live in general) you need to think about when your audience is most likely to be on social media. That can mean it’s better to do your Facebook Live videos in the evening, for example, when people aren’t at work.
Due to the popularity of Snapchat and other services, Facebook Stories was introduced. Although they are distinct from Facebook Live, they can also be useful. Like Snapchats, these are pieces of content that have a limited shelf life of 24 hours that you can only view once.
It also lives at the top of the News Feed and, as it is something that cannot be viewed again and again, it’s great for putting out things that are a ‘sneak peek’ or an exclusive offer.
At the moment, Facebook Stories are available from personal accounts only, but they can be a great way to build up your personal brand, and it’s a technology to experiment with when it does make it’s inevitable way to business pages.
9. Asset creation
The best thing for small businesses about using Facebook Live is asset creation. Rather than having to hire someone with a video camera and write a script – you can just talk into your phone and create something. You can show off your business, talk about your unique selling points, your points of difference and become approachable to your audience.
Once you build up a Facebook Live following, you can then use those videos within your feed — and they already have social proof. Using a downloader tool, you can even take those videos off Facebook and upload them to other platforms like YouTube.
Imagine if you decided to do a video each weekday. Maybe one day would be a tutorial, another would be advice, a third would be a behind the scenes to show what the staff does, another would be talking to customers and the last would be a Q and A session.
Within a month, you would have generated 20 videos, which could be the start of five different video series on YouTube — all without having to pay any money to an external agency.
If you are a larger business, helping people understand what you do and how to have their questions answered by you can give a human face to your business, and help you forge genuine connections with your audience.
10. VR, 4K, 360 and more
Facebook is investing heavily in video and is invested in Facebook Live. It means it is constantly updating it. Facebook added the filters and augmented reality and, more recently, added closed captioning (which is good as 85 percent of videos on Facebook are watched with the sound off).
Although you can Facebook Live using Smartphones, you can also use all kinds of cameras to stream on the service, including 4K and VR — even 360 cameras on phones like the Essential Phone are now supported on Facebook Live.
If you were a travel agency, it means you could ask one of the local reps in your hotels to stream a live video of one of your destinations with all the production value of an international commercial for the price of an e-mail. People can ‘attend’ openings, unveilings and gala events like they are there if they want to use virtual reality.
Some of this technology is being used by millions while other parts are still in their infancy. Find out what works best for your business, and don’t be afraid to experiment.