17 ways to use Facebook Live

Facebook is putting cash in your hands for using its new live streaming service. Not only is this a sign the social media giant is wholeheartedly backing Facebook Live to the hilt, but it also presents huge opportunities for digital journalists.

As word spreads that Buzzfeed is set to earn $3.05 million from facebook Live before March 2017, Newsrooms and media companies will be looking for people with the skills to capitalize and a journalist who know’s how to work with Facebook Live will likely be an asset.

It won’t be a surprise to anyone who has visited the Facebook Live video map, however, that a decent stream can often be a diamond in the rough. Live anything has always been something of an art form, and when the format doesn’t work – it really doesn’t work.

Our Interhacktives team have collated 17 different types of Facebook Live video to make sure budding journalists don’t poison the well. We’ll show you what we think works, and what we think is borderline animal abuse.

1) The Political Broadcast.

“What really took me by surprise was the comment stream: it was unintelligible. A live video has no real time moderation.” – Ryan Watts

At one point before the election, four of the top ten Facebook Live videos of all time are Donald Trump related. The Donald brings in the views because of the salience of the US election, but it’s not just doing him a favour. A political speech like this one being broadcast, for free, to thousands across the world is good for democracy – and a perfect use of Facebook Live. It’s relevant, but don’t read the comments.

2) The Alternative Political Broadcast.

“500,000 people watching one hour of snaps of Joe Biden with a funny caption every now and then, too long and boring, not interesting at all.” – Matteo Moschella.

Popularised by the likes of Charlie Brooker and Channel 4, content that provides an alternative to mainstream politics is a good use of both the internet and Facebook’s streaming platform. When a Vice Presidential debate isn’t that appealing, physically-printed pictures of Joe Biden, softly presented in a (seemingly) endless expression of admiration is a natural alternative. Just learn from BuzzFeed and don’t let the joke run stale. People didn’t stay for long, but you only need to watch for 3 seconds to count as a view.

3) The Interview.

“The video is highly visual, with closeups of beautiful dresses and various accessories. Despite this, it relies on sound – the curator tells us all of the background context” – Harriet Pavey

Sure – interviews are good fun. Do they work on the interactive Facebook Live? Yes! The live element means no checking the copy, no “scratch that, I meant to say…” It works as far as live TV does, but there’s a way to make it better for your audience.

4) The Interactive Interview.

With this one in particular, rather than just doing a Q+A with the subject, it’s sort of ‘gamified’ so that it becomes more interesting for the subject and the people who are watching.” – Jasper Pickering

Gamification can make the news far more palatable for some younger consumers, so Dan Wooton is capitalising by 1) interviewing an Instagram celebrity and 2) Making his humble viewers do the heavy lifting, by pitching questions and responding with intent. This is a use of Facebook Live that is sure to gain traction in a major way.

5) The Web Cam.

“This got a bit dull at one point, no viewer interaction. I wanted to see more expert info on the hurricane and a point to all those high-tech screens” – Mimi Lauder

Ever since a couple of Cambridge caffeine nuts lifehacked their way to a perfectly observed brew, the live webcam has been something of a mainstay online – and it works with Facebook Live too. Watching a condor hatch its eggs, or paint dry, might not be the most fascinating feeds but by allowing people to simply check up on something interesting, at this raw level, is a sure to be both therapeutic and popular.

6) The TV Show.

“A compilation of interviews with Leave and Remain campaigners before the EU Referendum. Buzzfeed did really well with this afterwards too, as they made it into a series of vines, articles and shareable content.” – Bridie Pearson-Jones

“Hey, you know what should basically be Channel 5? The internet.” No one has ever said this, yet perhaps content creators are so capable that they can go beyond the production value of your typical TV show. Buzzfeed smothered proceedings with their own branding, made little twists to make a political grilling internet ready, and built something interactive and sharable that they could feed into vines, articles and more. Your move, TV.

7) The Reality TV Show.

“Kind of ridiculous but funny and clever way of engaging commenters – something that I think would benefit Buzzfeed in Facebook’s algorithms for generating newsfeeds” – Megan Gurney

Another of those pesky TV formats, but with a Buzzfeed twist. Crowdsourcing dance moves made for interesting viewing, and when combine it with a self-deprecating and awkward sense of humour – you have a decent Facebook Live post.

8) The Experiment.

“Gets pretty repetitive after a while,  we just want to see the watermelon explode.” – Alexandra Ma

Buzzfeed seem to be throwing everything at the wall and hoping something is as sticky as listicles. Facebook Live is showing us that you can take one of the most viewed YouTube videos of all time, stream it live, and still be providing decent content. The suspense, the simplicity, the fact you can’t predict how long the video will take to conclude – all preventing the user closing the tab. Just one more band…

9) The Simple Long Form.

“To be honest, I’m not sure the puppy is really enjoying it by the end.” – Luke Barratt

People watch ‘boring’ things on the internet. Case in point, an intersection in Jackson, Wyoming. Perhaps boring is a disservice, as people find entertainment in the discussions that surround these simple viewing experiences. Controversy struck when Buzzfeed massaged a puppy for an hour and a half – with arguments surrounding whether the dog was enjoying himself dominating the feed. Facebook Live benefits from a simple script, and a little bit of controversy will attract some fleeting views (or the RSPCA) for sure, just make sure you’re getting the attention you want.

10) The Complicated Long Form.

“It was curious enough to attract more than 400 thousand viewers, but the fact that AI couldn’t learn the game nearly as fast as a human being started to annoy most of the viewers, who started to criticize the transmission and argue amongst themselves about the point of the whole experiment as Mario died over and over again.” – Francisco Mares

Twitch played Pokemon, and it was a global phenomenon, in part because people love an underdog. Watching Mario dive off cliff faces is heartbreaking, but the tech behind this display captured people’s imaginations and, while the Facebook live stream set the stage, people stayed to debate Asimov’s laws of robotics. The lesson here is to think about your audience, and the commenters you wish to host.

11) The Good Information Piece.

“This video got more than 60,000 views which shows its significance in the social media sphere. I personally thought this video was quite descriptive and helped me understand the situation better than what I understood after reading a piece on NYtimes” – Ayushman Basu

On the odd occasion, a bit of Journalism can sneak onto a Facebook Live feed. Taking to the streets and simply interviewing people, as this reporter did, worked to an extent because the subject he was reporting on was important, divisive and, most importantly, happening now and happening around him. Take the streets and just film yourself doing your work, at the very least the Journalists will be watching.

12) The Bad Information Piece.

“It didn’t really work as a live video, however. The FT essentially tried to translate directly the television format (a bunch of people sitting down and talking) onto Facebook Live, which I think is the wrong strategy.” – Luke Mintz

Sit everyone down in a Newsroom and talk finance for 50 minutes, however, and you won’t be letting Facebook Live be all it can be. Formats that once defined news are no longer so relevant. Roosterteeth are (bluntly) heralding the death of the local anchor, whilst delivering tech news with a show that emphasises community interaction. Facebook Live is a different beast and the FT will need to adapt. The number of views these videos consistently have does not reflect the true reach of the publication.

13) The No Information Whatsoever.

“Just a big advert. It was dull because it never led to anything.” – Ella Wilks-Harper

A hypeman for local weather reports, this presenter never actually said anything of substance. NBC are treating live streaming on your facebook feed as a novelty, almost as a marketing tool. With a tool such as this, Journalists are hoping to be able to play the long game, and we won’t know exactly how Facebook Live matures until it does. Until then, tips on how to use the platform shouldn’t be seen as scripture (says the guy writing an article on how to use Facebook Live.)

14) The High Production Value.

“It’s basically a TV show. The problem with this video is that it looks like a TV package which ignores the facets of a social-only product” – Matteo Moschella 

Omnidirectional camerawork from a world famous media institution, presenters with such high pay it’s at risk of being publicised, the kind of stable camera work you’d find effortlessly tracking leaping Salmon on an esoteric nature documentary – 100k views. Eh. If you can keep the production value high, then all the better. We feel doing this to the detriment of audience engagement/innovative content – is best avoided.

15) The Medium Production Value.

“Pros: capitalises well on the behind-the-scenes element of Facebook Live, giving people a first glimpse of the new gallery before it was open to the public. It’s basically like getting a private gallery tour. Cons: It’s appeal is to a specific section of facebook users.” Niamh McIntyre

Facebook Live can be used to give us access to behind the scenes in ways we never expected. It’s a way of sneaking backstage, a way of rewarding those genuinely interested in a certain subject, of paying service to the fans. Keeping that authenticity is the name of the game, however, and as one of the world’s greatest businessmen always says, keep it simple stupid (hurts my feelings every time.)

16) The Raw and the Viral

“Pros: Candice’s loveable, down-to-earth nature invites us to explore the Chewbacca mask with her. We want to keep watching because the noise that the mask makes is so weird and unfamiliar we want to listen to it over and over again. Cons: I literally cannot think of any” – Alexandra Ma

Recommended by two interhacktives, and a firm favourite for most of the rest of us, Chewbacca mom tops our list. This type of video is effortless, genuine and caught fire. Facebook can capture personality in a way other platforms can’t, by combining the culture of a social behemoth like Facebook – with such an instant medium

17) The “Who says polling data is wrong?”

“I used a smiley face to tell the world my favourite Disney movie, an angry face to show my appreciation for cats (over dogs) and endorsed a candidate in the US election with a heart. Welcome to 2016.” – Jasper Pickering

Now that electoral polling doesn’t seem to work anymore, some sites have jumped at the opportunity of hosting their own. Using Facebook Live and cleverly demarcated emojis, news sites are holding their own public polls. They may have a humorous spin, with many people voting for Harambe in the majority of polls, but with official polling as unhelpful as ever – could this be a more effective method?

What works for you? Do you agree with our typology? Horrified at the idea of ‘chewbacca mom’ being future-proof entertainment? Let us know in the comments below and please share your Facebook Live videos – we’re always looking for inspiration.

Leave a Reply