Publisher trend inception: Facebook Live meets commerce strategies

Lifestyle publishers Brit + Co and Mindbodygreen see an opportunity in using Facebook Live to mesh with their commerce businesses.

Last month, Brit + Co pushed out a 30-minute Facebook Live video starring expert handletterrer Brittany Luiz, who took requests from commenters for artsy signs of what people were thankful for. Viewership was modest, with 17,000 views and more than 380 comments. The video was an experiment for Brit + Co to see if it could use Facebook Live to drive registrations for its online class on bounce lettering.

“What if we turned this learning experience into a piece of content that can spread more broadly to the Facebook audience?” said Cecelia Cox, vp of marketing for Brit + Co. “The audience could see the skill they would learn in the class, which could be very valuable in driving people to register.”

Brit + Co said the live broadcast drove 180 pre-registrations (where viewers submit their emails to be notified when a class is available for purchase). That was four times the average number of pre-registrations Brit + Co sees for its online classes in a similar time period. Overall, Brit + Co has more than 31,000 people enrolled in 74 courses, with class-based revenue growing 350 percent year-over-year.

In 2017, the lifestyle publisher plans to grow that by doing more Facebook Live promotional broadcasts — for roughly half of the two to four new classes it opens up every month.

“We are always looking for ways to bring our media and commerce businesses closer together into a single experience for our audience,” said Cox. “This is a great way to do that. Pretty simply, for someone to get excited about a new class or skill, they first need to understand what that skill is.”

Brit + Co is not the only lifestyle publisher experimenting with Facebook Live to drive off-platform sales. Health and wellness media company Mindbodygreen, which sells 75 video-based courses for everything from yoga to meditation, has been experimenting with Facebook Live for the past nine months. Similar to Brit + Co’s experiment, Mindbodygreen sets up hosted Facebook Live sessions with instructors, during which viewers can see some of the things they’ll learn during the course and asks questions directly.

This is hardly a business maker. Email remains the biggest driver of conversions for Mindbodygreen’s video courses, and Mindbodygreen CEO Jason Wachob describes conversions as “decent — enough for it to be something we pay more attention to in 2017.”

Class-based revenue now accounts for 20 percent of Mindbodygreen’s annual business, growing by 70 percent year-over-year.

“Any time you’re over-dependent on a single source of revenue, that source owns you,” said Wachob. “It’s a fine line in this age of platforms, which you have to embrace and be on while also ensuring that you have a strong brand presence there.”

“This solves the pain point of how we can monetize [Facebook Live] — it checks that box,” Wachob added. “There’s a difference between investing in something you think you can monetize versus something you’re hoping someday someone else will let you monetize — [the latter is] a gamble we’re not willing to make.”

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