You’re watching your team in the NFL playoffs. It’s late in the game, third and long, win or go home. (Insert favorite sports cliché here.)

Suddenly the sports bar you’re where you are watching erupts with cheers as the quarterback finds his favorite wide receiver for a touchdown. Naturally, you whip out your smartphone and in three easy steps you share the raucous scene with your friends on Facebook Live.

That’s the setting for one of the TV commercials that Mark Zuckerberg’s social network has aired during fall/winter pro and college games. And while it’s smart to work a quick tutorial into these ads, they should also tell you how serious Facebook is about making its live video a must-use service.

Even though Facebook Live had a soft launch in 2015, the company is reintroducing it to users, hence the new TV ads. But this month the company also added some new features that have potential for businesses and marketers.  Now there’s another decision to make, and it doesn’t involve kicking the extra point or going for the two-point conversion: should your business be on Facebook Live?

Reclaiming Facebook Live From Headlines

Other than Chewbacca Mom’s viral hilarity, most of the stories surrounding Facebook Live haven’t been anything to laugh about. The feature has been used to chronicle tragedies, brutality and darker breaking news. Hence the determined effort by Zuckerberg’s company to get Facebook Live back to the lighter side of life.

Facebook, with its 1.8 billion users worldwide, saw the opportunity that was first opened up by the live video streaming app Meerkat. Unfortunately for Meerkat, a competing app, Periscope, was bought by Twitter, and it became the de facto streaming standard. But it too has waned in popularity, and Zuckerberg now is seizing the chance to retell the Facebook Live story.

No wonder: He can read Cisco research like the rest of us, especially the 2015 study that predicts 80-percent of web traffic will be video by 2019.

A New Chapter for Facebook Pages

That effort includes expanding Facebook Live for Pages, which serve as profiles for brands, businesses and organizations. Here, “friends” become “fans,” but the currency is still measured in likes, shares and comments.

Just a handful of the new features:

  • Facebook Live can now be accessed through your web browser, which opens up use from desktops and laptops, not just smartphones. Sure, Google Hangouts got there first, but Facebook’s reach automatically makes this newsworthy.
  • Users can pin real-time comments to the bottom of their Live video feeds, helping businesses boost interaction with customers.
  • If you’re not a Pages administrator, you can still broadcast Facebook Live video on the page if you’ve been designated to do so. Business team members become empowered to help your company tell its story.

Facebook intends these features to help publishers, but remember: The Internet and social media makes us all publishers.  That includes content marketing-focused businesses.  And thanks to live video, you’re a broadcaster, too.

What Can Businesses Broadcast on Facebook Live?

Brian Fazno, CEO and founder of social media consultancy iSocialFanz, says there are reasons why a business would choose Facebook Live over Periscope.

“If you have a mature, engaged Facebook community that you’ve been working with, if you’re confident in your Facebook page, then I believe Facebook Live is a no-brainer,” he told Social Media Examiner’s Michael Stelzner during a recent SME podcast. “I compare this to email marketing. In email, you have to grow your list and nurture your existing list. Periscope is the ability to grow your list, and Facebook is about nurturing your existing list.”

There are easy ways to start using Facebook Live in your business storytelling so you join the real-time party:

  • Breaking News/Promotion – New business announcements, product launches, appearances at trade shows. You could stage your own unboxing video, only you’re unboxing your own product and doing so live.
  • Pull Back The Curtain  – Without giving away proprietary info, of course, but taking customers behind the scenes and showing how the donuts are made, and who’s doing the baking (spotlighting your specialists) humanizes your business and can help with recruiting.
  • Customer Service – Live Q-and-A’s provide the best kind of interaction: Solve problems, show rapid response, get instant feedback.

TV stations certainly know a thing or two about live video, but some are already using Facebook Live in different ways, like this Columbus, Ohio affiliate’s use of the feature to poll its viewers about a top news story.

As with anything having to do with technology and marketing, the only limit is your imagination. But Fazno stresses that if you’ve committed to Facebook Live, make sure you stick with it.  “Although live streaming has ‘live’ in it, the most important aspect is consistency, the same time and day each week,” he said. “We have many distractions, but if they (viewers) can put it on their calendar,” then they’ll reward you with more interaction.

Fazno also encourages plenty of training for all who are part of your Facebook Live strategy. We at Vende Social would add that it should include how to deal with the occasional troll. It’s likely that your audience would watch for a reason, especially if you’re a B2B in a niche industry.

But hey, it’s live broadcasting.  Anything can happen – including scoring points with viewers/potential customers.

 

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