Brands had barely adjusted to the idea that they increasingly need to be publishers today. Now they’re being expected to become broadcasters on platforms like Facebook Live, too. Since Facebook Live opened up to the platform’s 1.6 billion users in April, a deluge of U.K. brands have been experimenting there.
But becoming a broadcaster overnight is easier said than done. Live video is demanding and requires meticulous preparation and the ability to adapt if things go wrong — which, inevitably, they do. Plus, thanks to Facebook’s built-in feature to archive live videos, mistakes can be replayed again and again.
So, what can marketers learn from the videos that have seen the most success on the platform? Using data from Socialbakers, we found the U.K.’s top-five clips this year to find out just that.
With over 380,000 views and over 300,000 comments, Boohoo had the top-performing live brand video of 2016.
Since Facebook’s API opened to developers and publishers, brands have been tinkering with formats that are far removed from presenters speaking to the camera. This is a prime example of a brand leveraging Facebook’s API to deliver live video that isn’t really video at all. Rather, it’s a series of images and trivia questions anyone could answer in the comments, with a countdown timer that flashes up around winners every 60 seconds.
The video is successful in adding drama and urgency to what is a very simple social media giveaway. After all, users in the comments section vying for an off-the-shoulder dress can see their rivals in real time. Plus, it’s a way for the retailer to shoehorn in a bigger promotion around Black Friday, with a link to the site in the video’s description.
This video from workout guru Joe Wicks, the man behind the hugely successful “Lean in 15” franchise, is an example of a brand refreshing tried-and-tested content with a live twist.
Wicks’ workout videos already draw large numbers on Facebook, but the novelty of following along live — or watching from a commuter train — is clear.
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Live video requires just such fresh thinking from brands, which tend to create content in advance, said Michaela Branova, lead data analyst at Socialbakers.
“The top Facebook Live videos demonstrate how brands can best take advantage of this new format – react quickly, be relevant and, most importantly, have a clear call to action that drives engagement,” she added.
In this video from Xbox, the company hid a copy of video game Forza Horizon 3 on the day of its release near Buckingham Palace, with the promise that whoever got to it first would win.
According to JJ Foan, content manager at 360i Europe, live treasure hunts have become increasingly popular with brands. “It’s a really smart way to merge social content with activity in the real world,” he added, though cautioned that such gimmicks may be tough to scale once the novelty wears off. “The way in which brands can scale the production values of live content will be the make or break of Facebook Live as an effective marketing tool,” he added.
Oh Polly is a brand that shows how the live format — which Facebook prioritizes in the news feed — can boost smaller outfits too. With just over 250,000 followers, Oh Polly boasted 23,000 views on its video, which showed the brand popping numbered balloons to reveal prizes for commenters.
It plays on the success of publishers like BuzzFeed — with its infamous viral watermelon video — in capturing action that makes the viewer flinch. Plus, there’s the suspense over who will be picked next.
“Both Boohoo.com and Oh Polly further drive engagement by fans entering the competition through comments on the post,” said Socialbakers’ Branova. “Comments create stories, which create a chance for brands to get into users friends’ news feeds.”
On videos like this, there’s also a greater sense of shared experience that’s lost in other social media formats, similar to the experience of watching TV at the same time as the rest of the nation.
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The cult of unboxing, which has its roots in YouTube, is spreading to live platforms like Snapchat, Facebook and Periscope.
Within niche communities, live video can help brands deliver the (often obsessive) level of detail their audience craves. In this case, it’s cycling enthusiasts who really care about a new set of tools. Never mind that the video is vertical, wobbly and lacking any dialogue, it still has 229,000 views and over 4,000 reactions.
“Here we call it the rise of ugly social,” said Callum McCahon, senior strategist at Born Social. “In theory, it’s the complete opposite of what live video should be like, but that doesn’t matter at all.”
McCahon added that a pre-recorded video wouldn’t be as exciting for the brand’s Facebook fans as live gives a sense of urgency and shared experience. While FOMO is key to Facebook’s success, live video adds an additional layer of urgency.