We look at the engagement rates around Facebook’s brand new live video feature, and find that the initial wave were very popular.

Facebook Live
Earlier this month, Facebook announced that celebrities and other public pages would be able to stream live video directly to their fans using a new live video feature.
It’s good news for anyone interested in using new methods to reach new audiences on Facebook. The combination of the exciting horizons presented by mobile live streaming and Facebook’s enormous audience means a potentially game-changing new feature.

Why is Facebook Getting into Live Broadcasting?

Twitter’s live streaming app Periscope now has two million active users (and 10 million accounts), and Meerkat caused one of the tech sensations of 2015 when it unveiled in early 2015. Meanwhile, Snapchat continues to push the boundaries of ephemeral messaging and video.
Live streaming and video are forms of social content that are only going to increase in popularity, and Facebook correctly saw there was an opportunity for an even greater slice of the action. The audience and technology is already there, alongside some of the biggest names in entertainment, sports, news, and more. Video live streams have the potential to bring them closer to viewers than any photo or status.
Live video on Facebook is an intriguing proposition. While other live streaming services like Periscope and Meerkat are pretty much ephemeral – think ‘real time Snapchat’ – Facebook’s live video feature saves the clip at the end, to be viewed and shared over and over again. And given what we know about the engagement rates around Facebook native video, that’s a very attractive bonus.

How Does It Work?

The first thing to note is that the live video feature isn’t available to all Facebook users.
A number of celebrity accounts streamed live video in conjunction with the official Facebook announcement. They included actor the Rock, footballer Ricardo Kaka, and several other high profile Facebook users.
Essentially, users of Facebook’s high-end ‘Mentions’ app are getting the first shot at live streaming. This seems like a clever move on Facebook’s part. Restricting the feature to celebrities and other public figures for now means that news feeds won’t be flooded with paint-drying live streams.

How Popular Is Live Video Likely to be on Facebook?

When we recently looked at the performance of Facebook native video for publishers, we found that average engagement rates with video far outstrip interactions around other post type, such as images and links, video was well on top. For the BBC News Facebook page, the average share rate for videos was more than four times higher than for links over 30 days:
FB Video Shares
When you consider that the majority of the most shared videos on Facebook come from celebrity and public pages, it would seem to make sense that live video is going to be very popular indeed with Facebook users.
[bctt tweet=”‘Engagement rates for Facebook Live Video FAR outstrip interactions for other post types!'”]
To get a better idea of what engagement around early Live videos looked like, we analysed 30 days of data for Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s Facebook page (Johnson was one of the main figures used to help announce to new feature, and already uses Facebook video regularly). In total, he posted 19 videos to Facebook over the last 30 days. By far the most engaged was his 32 minute long live video that attracted over 8,600 comments, 8,500 shares, and was liked almost 80,000 times.
There haven’t been too many more live videos since the initial announcement. However, one trend we’ve noticed are a higher ratio of comments on live videos as opposed to standard clips. Facebook have reportedly been working on the commenting feature for months, tweaking an important element of the live streaming experience. As we’ve noted on this blog in the past, comments are a significant driver of meaningful engagement on Facebook.
Although we don’t yet have a huge number of videos to look at just yet, it seems as though the comment rate on Live videos are far higher than for regular clips. Again taking the example of Dwayne Johnson’s page, we looked at his ten most shared videos of the past month, and calculated the comments on each as a percentage of the total interactions on each clip. The most shared of the month was his 32 minute live stream, and over 9% of its total interactions came through comments. The average for the remaining nine videos was 1.71%.
Total interactions
There’s a simple explanation for this – viewers are encouraged to submit questions to live Q&As via comments.
[bctt tweet=”‘Dwayne @therock Johnson is one of the most savvy celebrity testers of Facebook Live Video!'”]
Although the live video feature is not available to all users yet, Facebook have already announced that the feature would be accessible by journalists and other public pages. As publishers generally continue to figure out how to fold their content into the vectors of social and mobile, it’s important to keep a close eye on the response to new features like live video.

Where Can I Track the Performance of Live Videos?

After Facebook’s announcement, NewsWhip’s engineers were quick off the mark to ensure we’d be tracking these clips in Spike. A special tag is now visible on all live videos in Spike’s Facebook Posts section, so that Spike users can now quickly spot live Facebook videos that celebrities and other public figures.
Ricardo Kaka
We’ll be looking at the performance of live video on Facebook in the coming weeks on this blog, and feel free to tweet us with any more observations and questions in the meantime.

What’s Next?

1) Take a free trial of Spike to see what videos are trending on Facebook in real time
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