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What Facebook Live means for marketers

Just when you thought Facebook couldn’t infiltrate any other part of our already social-media-laden lives, it’s at it again – this time with the launch of Facebook Live.

Entering the space previously dominated by Periscope and Meerkat, Facebook introduced its livestreaming video service to all US iOS users in January, having previously released the tool to verified brand pages in December. Global and Android coverage is due to roll out in the next few weeks too – and it’s guaranteed to have a massive impact on marketing around the world.

First things first, it’ll mean that livestream will become mainstream. Whereas relatively few brands are currently making use of Periscope and the like, marketers will be forced to pay attention to livestreaming and consider how to add it to the marketing mix. That’s mostly because it will be far more noticeable to the general public, appearing in front of Facebook’s 1.59 billion monthly active users – far more than Twitter’s (and thus Periscope’s potential) 320 million monthly users.

And Facebook Live also has some nifty tools that set it apart from the likes of Twitter-owned Periscope too. So while you won’t get the cute little hearts appearing on your screen as people like your live broadcast, there’s a whole raft of features that set it apart.

Go where the people are

Perhaps most significantly, livestream footage will appear directly in News Feeds, so your fans can discover the stream as it happens, even if they missed any promotional activity. Then – as with Periscope – when they click to watch the footage, you’ll be able to see who’s tuned in and answer their comments in real-time too.

Plus, viewers can subscribe to the livestream feeds there and then, unlike Periscope, which just follows the account on Twitter for you. This makes ongoing relationships with brand pages as simple as possible – and subscribing will also mean that users are notified when you’re next on air, rather than relying on them seeing your go-live tweet in their feeds.

And perhaps, most importantly, the videos are recorded for all time and saved like a regular Facebook video, not just for 24 hours, as with Periscope. That means your fans can return to the recording time and again – and it can be distributed and shared in the months and years after the original broadcast, giving your footage an extended lifespan.

Facebook vs YouTube

Notably, Facebook Live also throws further shade onto Google-owned YouTube, reducing the likelihood of people using YouTube’s Live service. Facebook has already claimed to have overtaken YouTube for the number of videos watched each day (although those stats are to be viewed with scepticism), and this is like to have an even greater impact on those figures. If most of your audience are daily Facebook users, why wouldn’t marketers broadcast to Facebook first, rather than sending people to an external channel like YouTube?

With so much hanging in the balance, we’re eagerly awaiting the launch of Facebook Live in the UK, not only so we can experiment with it (follow us on Facebook so you don’t miss it) but so we can see how livestreaming develops and evolves over the coming year.