Inside Heineken’s Facebook Live plan: ‘It’s not just about scale.’

Many brands are experimenting with Facebook Live because it has the potential to reach a huge audiences. But for Heineken, Facebook Live is not just about scale — the beer brand plans to use it more often as a community-management platform.

“Facebook Live, for Heineken, is more about using an innovative platform to answer specific questions, rather than garnering a certain number of views and likes,” said Greg Eckelman, head of strategy for Heineken’s social media agency We Are Social. “Instead of spending hours and hours on community management on Facebook, now we are able to address consumers’ questions with a single video clip in real time and repurpose the content when they ask the same questions periodically.”

Compared to other live-streaming platforms like Periscope and Snapchat, Facebook Live is a better fit for Heineken, which is only allowed to target people 21 and up. “There’s no age gate on Periscope. We usually don’t interact with viewers who leave comments on Periscope because we have no way confirming how old they are,” said Lisi Powers, community manager for We Are Social, who leads the Heineken account. “But when you like Heineken’s Facebook page, it will automatically verify if you are over 21.”

We Are Social's pitch deck to Heineken
We Are Social’s pitch deck to Heineken

In collaboration with We Are Social, Heineken unveiled its first Facebook Live interview with its master brewer Willem van Waesberghe in late April when he was visiting New York City from the Netherlands. Since brands cannot put paid media behind the actual Facebook Live videos, We Are Social sent out three paid targeted posts prior to the live stream so beer fans knew the video would take place.

Facebook Live with Heineken's master brewer Willem van Waesberghe
Facebook Live with Heineken’s master brewer Willem van Waesberghe.

Master brewer van Waesberghe started the live stream by answering five frequently asked questions from Heineken’s Facebook fans, like “Why doesn’t Heineken consider yeast an ingredient in beer?” “How does Heineken brew with only three ingredients?” and “Is Heineken GMO?” And then he took questions coming in during the live stream.

Heineken’s Q&A had more than 500 views at any given time when it was live and has generated close to 5,000 views to date. While those numbers may not be high enough for other brands, Eckelman and Powers consider this activation a success because it lets Heineken reply to fans’ comments more dynamically and the goal of this Facebook Live campaign is not reach.

Heineken answers fans' questions with video chops.
Heineken answers fans’ questions with video chops.

After the broadcast, Powers’ team pulled 15 different short clips from this Facebook Live Q&A and uploaded them as “secret videos” (a Facebook feature for Page admins to customize how they distribute video content on the platform). So every time followers ask questions like “When did Heineken come to America?” she can reply with a link to a 30-second video clip featuring an authoritative source: Heineken’s master brewer. “It’s more vivid than a company website or a text-based response,” said Eckelman. “And it’s really hard to troll a guy who has been in the brewing industry for 20 years.”

Powers added that this master brewer activation sets the tone for how Heineken is going to approach Facebook Live going forward. The team is also looking to use Facebook Live for Heineken-sponsored events like Coachella festival and Major League Soccer, as well as roll it out to other Heineken-owned brands like Dos Equis.

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