NewsWhip Whippies: Best Facebook Live Publishers of 2016


By   |   December 15th, 2016   |   Reading time: 5 minutes Digital Journalism

There’s no doubt it’s been the year of Facebook Live for many publishers on social media. We look at three pages that raised the bar for the format in 2016. 

For publishers, there’s been one new social media format in particular that really grabbed attention in 2016.

There’s no doubt that Facebook Live video has been the biggest social media format consideration of the last 12 months for publishers. Facebook Live has been a publishing monster, with 55 million views of live videos around the first presidential debate in September signalling the power of the medium in reaching audiences.

Without further ado, here are our picks for best publisher use of Facebook Live in 2016.

Best Facebook Live Publishers, 2016

#1 – BBC News

Here’s the thing with Live video – while you theoretically can try streaming anything that you like, it has to actually be pretty interesting in order to actually get attention.

Most regular Facebook users got that pretty quickly, as friends let them know they weren’t too impressed to be notified of their decision to live stream their bus commute.

On the other hand, Live opens up a ton of opportunities to bring viewers to places that, as a journalist, you have special access to.

BBC News had this in spades.

This year, their reporters were out bringing viewers to some of the most newsworthy and unexpected parts of the globe.

In the last few weeks alone, they’ve done live broadcasts from the Russian parliament, Niagara Falls, the memorial of the Battle of the Somme, and even inside a famous art auction house.

As well as streaming dispatches from the field, the BBC also used their in-house production skills to bring their Facebook fans closer to the news. They brought viewers behind the scenes of their newsroom itself, giving a behind the scenes glimpse at something that most of their audiences would never have seen otherwise.

The breadth of their coverage and the skill of the presenters is always impressive, and while many are trained TV presenters, they seem to realise that there’s still a difference between a news broadcast and a Facebook Live stream.

In 2016, BBC News showed newsrooms what was possible with a mobile phone, good internet access, and a nose for a good story.

#2 – CNN

CNN took Facebook Live and made it a very central part their Facebook strategy in 2016.

When we recently looked at how publishers were posting more native videos on Facebook, we saw that CNN had really ramped up their output over the course of the year. And for all their output, CNN saw serious engagement on their Live videos this year too. They saw huge engagement, in terms of likes, comments and shares, as well as views, throughout the year.

Head of Social Media Samantha Barry told us in October that the broadcaster was taking its Facebook Live efforts seriously.

CNN is the leader in video news, and we have this broadcasting beast domestically and internationally. Video has been a big focus for us, and you’ve seen that on our pages, where not only have we upped the amount of native video we’re uploading, but we’ve gone all-in on Facebook Live as well. It’s been amazing for us so far.

One of the things we don’t want to do on Facebook Live is it to be TV-lite. We do TV really well – on TV. We want Facebook Live to be something different.

And the differences included doing things like broadcasting lengthy, visually stunning shots of Pearl Harbour, and livestreaming the projection of election results on the Empire State Building on election night (this was a particulalry popular video, with over 24 million views).

They’ve focussed on doubling down on what works, and constantly reiterating, and the work appears to be paying off. Expect more from CNN around Live video in 2017.

#3 – BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed’s exploding watermelon video defined how many publishers viewed Facebook Live in 2016. Viewership, engagement, and news feed dominance; it had it all.

But despite the apparently simplistic premise of the video, which attracted record-breaking engagement for a publisher, there was much more in BuzzFeed’s Facebook Live armoury for the remainder of 2016.

Their Live clips have been more experimental as the year went on. They seemed to try to be striking the balance between keeping viewers attention around big issues that were in the news, while offering something different to stand out.

For example, BuzzFeed streamed the presidential election debates, but with a twist. Viewers were given the option of watching a ‘satisfying power washing video’ at the same time- a move that might sound bizarre, but proved popular with BuzzFeed’s audience. The stream has had over 3 million views to date.

Meanwhile, the Live videos on their BuzzFeed News page have covered big stories, such as the Dakota Access Pipeline issue and protests in New York, by sending reporters to the scene. Many of these clips have also seen strong engagement this year.

BuzzFeed have been very good at using Facebook Live in imaginative ways, and publishers looking for inspiration on how to keep viewers’ attention should look no further than some of their pages.

What are your Facebook Live picks for the year? Let us know on Twitter.

For more social video tips, see these posts:

How to create perfect videos for your audience

Five quick things to know about Facebook videos

What we learned from analysing 30 days of Facebook Live Videos

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