How Much Engagement On Facebook Live Videos Happens While They’re Live?


By   |   September 7th, 2016   |   Reading time: 3 minutes Digital Journalism

Our data shows that a significant amount of engagement with Facebook Live Videos happen while the videos are still live – highlighting the importance of promoting your streams while they’re actually live. 

Unsurprisingly, the main attraction of Live videos in the news feed is that they’re actually live.

Thanks to the custom content graphs in Spike, we can easily track the paths of engagement with specific pieces of content on Facebook.

These graphs display levels of engagement on a piece of content since publication. Spike users use the feature to see how a particular story or video performed over time, or spot where there’s been a sudden resurgence in engagement.

Setting our time filters to 24 hours, here’s what that curve looks like for a popular web-based article:

NewsWhip Spike Screenshot

Here we see the growth in engagement for an ABC website article, 15 hours after publication. You can see that the engagements grew at a fairly quick pace, with around 50% coming in the first three hours. But there’s a consistent level of growth until things even off a few hours later.

Next, let’s look at engagement on a native (non-live) Facebook video:

Facebook Videos in Spike

Firstly, you see that the engagement numbers are much higher than for the article. Published 12 hours ago, this BuzzFeed Tasty video has a huge ‘social velocity’, and engagement rises steadily during that time, with strong engagement from the start, but strong numbers in the hours after its initial posting.

Compare that to the graph for a UFC Facebook Live video:

Facebook Live Video in Spike

Note the huge upsurge in engagement during the 17 minutes that the video was live (highlighted above). In those 17 minutes, the video attracted 29,300 interactions. 19 hours later, that grew to 85,500. Over 34% came while the video itself was live.

This phenomenon appears to hold true for longer live broadcasts, too. The New York Times recently published a 44 minute long interview with Julian Assange. This time, 50% of the total engagements after one week came while the video was still live, and in the minutes directly afterwards.

Interestingly, the longer the video, the more likely that the bulk of engagements will happen while the video is live.

The Weather Channel is well-known for its extreme weather videos on Facebook. This two hour-plus video of Hurricane Hermine making landfall in Florida last week saw 131,000 interactions ( and 2.8 million views).

Looking in Spike, we can see that the video attracted roughly 82,000 engagements during the broadcast itself, or 62% of the total interactions six days later. Add on another hour after the broadcast ended, and engagements had grown to 118,000, or almost 90% of the total engagements for the clip.

In another example from Fox News, a 44 minute long live clip of a Donald Trump rally had 47,600 engagements from the beginning of the stream to 60 minutes later. In the following 16 hours, it attracted another 18,400 interactions.

This seems to make sense – these types of videos require a lot of investment in viewing on the part of the viewer. If you’re coming after all the action’s over, it’s not as exciting. On top of that, the video is less likely to appear in your feed anyway, due to Facebook’s ranking priorities.

Make sure you get maximum engagement on your live video once they’re live

The lesson here for video producers is to make sure that they’re engaging their videos to the maximum once they’re live. Cross-posting from alternative pages, promoting from other social accounts while you’re live, and promoting in advance (particularly by looking for audience input) are all clever ways of making sure your audience is primed when it matters.

Our guide to making good Facebook Live videos is a useful pointer here when considering how to get maximum impact out of their live broadcasts. As we noted in that guide:

“The longer the broadcast, the more people that can join in the stream, and spread it on to their friends.”

Facebook recommends a five minute minimum for live broadcasts, but most are now much longer. Striking the balance between being informative and long enough is the challenge.

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