3 Ways Digital Publishers are Successfully Using Facebook Live
According to a 2016 Cisco projection report, two-thirds of all internet traffic is attributed to online streaming. What’s more, this figure is expected to jump to 82% by 2020!1
One major influencer in this projected growth is the new vested interest in live streaming development and production by major companies in the tech and media sectors. For instance, in May alone, 44% of the top 500 Facebook pages maintained by media companies posted at least one live video on Facebook, up 11% from January.2
Some of the strongest support for live broadcasting and streaming comes from the top social media companies. Platforms like, YouTube and Periscope have found success with brands and user broadcastings by implemented features like mobile streaming capabilities on their respective apps. However, Facebook has made the biggest strides with digital publishers – such as CNN, The New York Times, Mashable, and more – thanks to its newest product, Facebook Live.3
Facebook Live is particularly attractive to digital publishers for a few unique features. On Facebook Live, digital publishers can send alerts to their followers whenever they are broadcasting – allowing companies such as Buzzfeed to instantly reach its 8 million Facebook page fans.4 Additionally, Facebook recently announced it changed its feed algorithm to place live broadcasts higher on the page – making them far more accessible and more likely to be watched. 5
Although it should be noted that Facebook Live lacks the monetization features that platforms such as YouTube have established for live streaming, it is currently testing 15 second mid-roll video placements during broadcasts. Regardless, Facebook Live has also reportedly created yearlong contracts with select digital publishers, brands, and influencers to broadcast on Facebook Live totaling $50 million – with Buzzfeed receiving the lions share at $3.05 million.2
Although a proper monetization structure is still being tested by Facebook, digital publishers seem particularly excited about the potential this new channel possesses for user engagement. As Melinda Lee SVP and GM of video at Meredith expressed, “When people are watching live, you see more commenting, less sharing. It has the community feel that you’re connecting in real time.”
Likewise, from a content and editorial perspective digital publishers seem equally excited. Micah Gelman, director of editorial video for Washington Post recently went on record saying, “Facebook Live allows us to really dive deep in a way that we couldn’t in a traditional streaming opportunity.”6
However, some concerns exist with those wondering if Facebook Live will continue to captivate viewers. Chris Hurst, digital development editor for BBC Sport, is one such example who recently expressed, “The novelty of just doing a live video will wear off relatively quickly, so the challenge will be to remain distinctive and evolve how we tell stories.” 7
Despite some concerns many digital publishers have seen early success with Facebook Live. Here’s how some digital publishers are using Facebook Live today:
Along with some other digital publishers, Buzzfeed has been working with Facebook Live since its early testing phase and has received some great responses. Buzzfeed has produced 70 Facebook Live broadcasts that have been created, liked, and shared over a wide range of topics.
The most popular of their live broadcasts involved their staff wrapping a watermelon with rubber bands until it exploded. The video delivered an outstanding 10.2 million views and at one point held upwards of 800,000 live views.8 Although an interesting video, from a content perspective, the most important take away from Buzzfeed’s efforts can be understood through their CEO Jonah Peretti who stated, “It’s the first time we’ve had a number comparable to live TV.”9
Buzzfeed is also among different media partners testing a new feature of Facebook Live that allows you to invite guests to your Facebook Live feed, creating more opportunities for interviews, debates, and collaborations. An anonymous Facebook spokesperson told Buzzfeed they believe, “Going live with a friend or fan can make broadcasts more fun and interactive”10
BBC News is one of the largest broadcasting organizations, but it’s focus on BBC sports with Facebook Live has led to its greatest success stories. This selective focus is primarily a result of social media’s capabilities to reach demographics that may otherwise be unobtainable. As Chris Hurst, digital development editor for BBC Sports stated, “BBC Sport is always looking for new and inventive ways to reach younger audiences through social media”11
So far, their biggest breakthrough in this journey was with their “Match of the Day” Facebook page, producing 1.3 million views during a recent broadcast.7 Facebook Live has also made an impact on BBC’s football coverage.
“Enabling presenters and journalists to interact with audiences, explaining how our programs are put together and providing behind-the-scenes access,” Chris Hurst also expressed. Currently, BBC waiting to see how Facebook Live can continue to support them and create new initiatives for the company.11
Little Things, a publisher that targets consumers with feel-good videos, was one of the first to test Facebook Live. Little Things quickly turned its experimenting into a powerful outlet to connect with viewers.12 Little Things found its comfort zone with Facebook Live quicker than most and noticed results in the form of comments and interactions.
The digital publisher has interesting and attention grabbing videos on their site and usually that attention equates to about 2 to 3 million views and 100 to 200 comments. With the addition of Facebook live views took a hit and went down to roughly 50,000 on average, however, comments are regularly in the thousands demonstrating much higher levels of engagement.6
Despite minor problems with monetization, many digital publishers like those shown above are finding success with Facebook Live – especially when it comes to engagement. Indeed, Facebook Live is already showing great potential and should not be ignored. With a few more big strides Facebook Live could end up being the first weapon digital publishers use from their arsenal of content strategies.
1. Mortensen, Dylan. “THE LIVE STREAMING VIDEO REPORT: Forecasts, Emerging Players, and key Trends for Brands’ and Publishers’ next Big Opportunity.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc., 22 Sept, 2016. Web. 19 Oct. 2016
2. Perlberg, Steven. “Facebook Signs Deals Wtih Media Companies, Celebrities for Facebook Live.” WSJ. Wsj.com, 21 June 2016. Web. 19 Oct. 2016
3. “News Media Alliance | The Voice for News Media.” News Media Alliance. N.p., n.d.d, Web. 19 Oct. 2016
4. “Super Tuesday 2′ Was a Big Night for Publishers Streaming live on Facebook.” Digiday. N.p., 26 Mar. 2016. Web. 13 Oct. 2016
5. Wagner, Kurt. “It’s Not Just Celebrities – Facebook Is Paying Media companies to Make Live Video, Too.” Recode. N.p., 06 Apr. 2016. Web. 13 Oct. 2016
6. “Publishers Drive Early Wins With Facebook Live.” AdExchanger. N.p., 25 July 2016. Web. 19 Oct. 2016
7. Sourthern, Lucinda. “How the BBC, Sky Sports and Other UK Media Are Using Facebook Live Video.” Digiday. N.p., 21 Mar. 2016. Web. 19 Oct. 2016
8. Mullin, Benjamin. “How 4 News Organizations are Using Facebook Live to Reach Broader Audiences.” Poynter. N.p., 31 Mar. 2016, Web. 19 Oct. 2016
9. “Why Everyone From Jose Cuervo, to buzzFeed Is Jumping Into Livestreaming.” AdWeek, N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2016
10. “Facebook Live’s New Feature Is Actually Cool.” BuzzFeed, N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2016.
11. Connelly, Tony. “How Facebook Live Is turning the Social Network into the Sports Broadcaster of the Future.” The Drum. N.p., nd.d. Web. 19 oct. 2016
12. Jackson, Jasper. “Facebook Live Video Service Sees Company Paying news Publishers.” The Guardian. Guardian News and media, 06 Apr. 2016. web. 19 Oct. 2016