What Facebook’s New Live Video Features Mean for Publishers


By   |   April 6th, 2016   |   Reading time: 4 minutes Digital Journalism

Facebook just made a bundle of new announcements around their live video offering. Here’s what they mean for publishers. 

Live Creative Tools AndroidToday Facebook made their intentions for Live Video a little clearer, announcing a range of new features for the format on desktop and mobile.

More and more publishers have been using Facebook live’s features, from sports teams to entertainment sites.  So the new features were eagerly anticipated.

Here’s what’s new:

A dedicated video tab on mobile

Video Destination iOS

Probably the most interesting development for publishers, the arrival of a dedicated video tab within Facebook is something that those who have already invested in native video will be quite excited about.

Our data shows that engagement with native videos has grown significantly in the last few months. However users sometimes have a tricky time trying to find videos they’re interested in. Expect this feature to make that process much easier – a live version of YouTube.

The new live video tab in the Facebook mobile app looks to make that a little easier, gathering together ‘video from the friends and creators that matter most to you, and live video on topics you’re interested in’. 

Growth in Facebook video engagements

Try NewsWhip Spike to spot the videos trending on Facebook in any category or country

Live video reactions

Viewers will be now able to react to videos as they’re being broadcast, by using the relatively new reaction icons, like ‘sad’, ‘love’, ‘wow’ and more.

This is a Periscope-like move, and we can expect to see its use contributing even further to how video ranks in the news feed. Publishers (and everyone else) will be able to see reaction to their broadcasts in real time, adding to the interactivity of the stream.

Ability to go live in groups and events on Facebook

This will give users the ability to share livestreams with groups they’re part of. This has many useful non-publisher uses: for instance, college classes or sports teams might want to share video in one place. But it raises possibilities for publishers, too. Will they be able to broadcast to groups, many of which are already made up of very niche audiences?

For instance, NPR have built a private personal finance Facebook group with over 10,000 members. Live broadcasts with finance reporters to that group would make more sense than blasting out a notification to all followers.

Facebook live map

The new live map aims to showcase the breadth of live video from around the globe. There isn’t a live video tab on desktop in Facebook, so this feature gives the chance to showcase who’s going live in different parts of the world. For breaking news situations, the potential seems particularly compelling, as it may be possible to hone in on broadcasts from different regions. It’s available in around 60 countries.

Option to invite friends to watch a live video

This makes sense – if you’re broadcasting live, you’ll now have the option to pick which of your friends get a notification to watch the stream. Is that something that might be rolled out for all live videos in future?

In addition to the new features, Facebook have also made two new metrics available.

  1. Live Broadcast Audience – This shows the total number of viewers of the live broadcast.
  2. Viewers During Live Broadcast – This metric shows the total number of viewers at different stages of the broadcast, allowing publishers to spot when viewers drop off during a live stream.

We’ve been monitoring the development of Facebook video for a while, noticing that there are a significant number of key differences between what makes for successful pre-made Facebook video and live.

We’ll be looking at this a little closer in the future, but for now, the most important difference seems to be around length (pre-made clips are short, live need to be long to work at all).

BBC News Social Media Editor Mark Frankel has told us that the live videos that that outlet has been producing tend to attract a high volume of good comments, some of which can actually be incorporated into the stream as a question.

Facebook now say that live broadcasts attract 10 times more comments than regular videos.

The new features means that there’s going to be a healthy boost to those publishers and brands that have already experimented with Live. For other publishers, it’s likely to spur interest in the format.

Interestingly, there was no mention of ads or monetisation potential in the announcement, although Re/Code report that Facebook is now paying select media companies to use live video. That could be a temporary measure until the audience grows to sustainable levels, or maybe Facebook have grander video hosting ambitions.

If you’re already using Facebook live video to reach viewers, we’d love to know more – let us know on Twitter or email.

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