In the last 12 months, Facebook has put a big emphasis on live-streaming, running a major advertising campaign and pushing up the organic reach of Facebook Live videos, amongst other measures, in order to get more people using the option.
The Social Network’s enthusiasm for Live was prompted by CEO Mark Zuckerberg – as the story goes, after the initial test-phase for Live back in 2015, Facebook noticed that the option was being most heavily used by college or high-school aged people, the demographic that Facebook had been losing to Snapchat. That prompted Zuckerberg to immediately place more emphasis on the project, leading to the aggressive push we’ve seen on Live ever since.
Facebook’s latest Live initiative coincides with International Women’s Day, which will be celebrated this week (March 8th). Tying into the event, Facebook has called on users to participate in their #shemeansbusiness live-streaming event.
As explained by Facebook:
“On March 8, public figures and leaders from around the world will use Facebook Live with the hashtag #shemeansbusiness to shine a light on inspiring women and women-run businesses in celebration of International Women’s Day.”
In addition to this, Facebook’s also published a one-page guide on how to go live, with step-by-step instructions on how to start a broadcast:
And what to broadcast to maximize your content:
These tips, of course, can be applied to any Live broadcast, and there are some great notes in there, all of which will help boost your live-stream reach in Facebook’s algorithm (particularly the note about broadcast length).
It’s an interesting promotion from Facebook, working to make Live a more relevant consideration by tying it into a major event.
But at the same time, it’s also interesting in how it relates to the popularity of live-streaming on the platform, amid reports that Live is not resonating with their audience as Facebook had hoped.
The Wall Street Journal has published a new report which suggests that live-streaming hasn’t seen as much take-up as Facebook had expected – according to WSJ:
“Nearly a year [after release], many publishers say Facebook Live viewership is lackluster. Facebook is still tinkering with ways for them to earn money from their broadcasts. Facebook doesn’t disclose viewer data or financial results for Facebook Live.”
The report also notes that Facebook has faced challenges with live censorship (“people have used Facebook Live to broadcast at least 50 acts of violence”), while the company is also reportedly pulling back from exclusive Facebook Live content contracts, which they’d inked with various high-profile creators and celebrities to help promote the tool.
That, says WSJ, may be a sign that Facebook is re-assessing its ambitions for Facebook Live, putting more emphasis instead on television-like programming, with College Humor co-founder Ricky Van Veen heading up The Social Network’s broader TV ambitions.
Indeed, another recent report also reiterated reports that Facebook will stop paying publishers and celebrities to create live video, instead opting to focus on “longer, premium video content” and “TV-style shows”.
That could mark a significant turning point for Facebook video – it’s not like Facebook Live will cease to exist, but if Facebook starts to get more mileage out of premium video content, they may work to de-emphasize live video in favor of this higher-quality, more controlled, material from publishers. That, eventually, could make it harder to get reach and coverage for live content.
That shift hasn’t happened yet – as is evident by this latest push to get more people involved in their International Women’s Day broadcast – but the signs do suggest that Facebook Live may not be delivering the results they want, at least not at this stage.
It’ll be interesting to monitor Facebook’s next moves on this front.