Sunday, January 15, 2017

Going Facebook Live, Part 2, Takeaways from Early Successes

Part 1 of this series was about early viral hits of Facebook Live, which leads to this series of takeaways on what might work for journalists experimenting with the platform.

1. Be a Personality

Facebook Live works well as an added part of an overall brand, with the same recognizable name than elsewhere to cross-list yourself, as on the street or from your couch, or wherever, whatever spice, angle, expertise, style you can bring.

2. The Element of Surprise

Facebook Live seems to work well if it's uncertain how a live moment will end. Will the protest get nasty? Is there any suspense to what you are covering? Does it truly have that live feel? This isn't necessary but it doesn't hurt.

3. Really In the Moment

Those shots of newscasters in the middle of a snowstorm work really well on live TV. Why not extend the pleasure on Facebook Live? Which also leads us to point #4.

4. Grow Your Audience (10 minutes or more)

Rather than being short, it's being said you really need at least 10 minutes for people to find you. If it's shorter they just won't have time. So you want to build up in your first few minutes, try as hard as you can to keep your viewers, and then take it to the next level.

5. The Journey

Taking viewers on a journey also works well, from point A to point B, so they want to stick with you. Any process, behind the scenes, added explanation or background to how they may arrive to a new level of knowledge is also a part of this.

6. Always Reset

Just like for live TV, you always want to remind your viewers of what's going on exactly. Where are we? Where have we been? Where might we be going?

7. Interact

You want to make sure you are always interacting with your viewers, responding to their comments, and engaging with them. You can't talk to a TV, but Facebook Live allows this immersion.

8. Don't Be Afraid of What's Quirky

You have to bring some quirkiness, something unique, or else the hum dee dee dum doesn't muster very well, unless you are onto something big, or relevant.

9. The Repeated Hook

As you perfect your art of Facebook Live, you have to have some sort of a hook, to why a viewer's thumb should tap and stop on your content. And keep reminding them of your own special hook. That will keep them with you. They want reminders. They want to feel privileged, in the moment. They want to feel special. Speak to them. Why is what you are showing them so interesting?

10. Well-Timed Content Is Still Usually Best Bet for Journalists

Notwithstanding all the artifice and performance, good content goes a long way in Facebook success and rising above other, more tedious content.

Going Facebook Live Part 1, Video Hits from the Early Days

Hard to believe but it's only been since August 2015 that Facebook live began, with limited availability to celebrities, including comedian Ricky Gervais, who had an early hit, before everyone could become broadcasters of a moment, of their life, from applied citizen journalists, to journalist wannabees, to professional journalists trying to keep up.

1. Ricky Gervais from His Bath

As with everything, if you are already a public figure, and to boot a great on-camera performer, you have a solid base to begin with, even if it's ridiculous, but sometimes a laugh can go a long way.

2. Buzzfeed and the Exploding Watermelon

In April 2016, Buzzfeed went viral by exploding a watermelon with elastics. Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes ..... It explained the phenomenon here. Not knowing when exactly or how something will finish is a key ingredient to Facebook Live success.

3. The Chewbacca Mom

The success of Chewbacca Mom also led to backlash and racial comparisons to the "on fleek" phrasemaker. You be the judge.

4. CNN and Climbing Trump Tower

Someone going up Trump Tower did well for many news organizations, including CNN. Again the element of suspense, not knowing how something will finish, a la crazy car chase, where commentary/comments are part of the fun, and the quality of the video isn't that important, is part of the appeal.

5. Weathercasters and Oncoming Storms

Any process video does well, behind the scenes, minor celebrities, and combining it with the possibility of an oncoming blizzard can also make a Facebook Live video successful, even if not shot very well at all.

6. AJ + and the Protest Video

Play by play works well on a developing, unclear situation with potential for havoc. It's almost like being there and experiencing the thrill or feeling a part of the protest or counter-protest, since you can also comment away.

7. NYTimes and Recounting the Pulse Nightclub Massacre

An earnest, no frills, very heartfelt and genuine recounting of a tragic mass shooting was an early hit for the New York Times.

8. Huffington Post and Trying to Find a Mother's Ashes

This works because there is a search, process as it happens journalism, and it's a story with a possible happy ending, amid despair. It personalizes and takes the viewer on a micro-story within the bigger picture of the flooding.

9. NPR and the Music Stream

Concert streams from festivals seem to do well or even from small gigs or band practices, especially if the audio is clean, as with any video, unless there's plenty of text to go on silent, audio can still reign supreme.

10. Most Recent Kid on the Block: Facebook 360 Live

In December, 2016, NatGeo was given the early reins on that, for whatever it's worth.


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