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Lessons for Your Brand from Facebook Live Video—As Told by Hashtags

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It seems like every week something new happens on Facebook Live video. The latest major flashbulb moment was when hundreds of thousands of people tuned in to watch some dude scale Trump Tower in New York using suction cups.

The power and intrigue of live video is well-understood, but exactly what enterprises should do with the live video trend is not. News outlets have cashed in by streaming the tower climber without interrupting scheduled programming and have even used Facebook Live video to circumvent House of Representatives television broadcast rules, but it’s the slightly less spontaneous stuff that has many brands scratching their heads. Breaking barriers and “going live” doesn’t have to be so daunting and confusing, but in order to make sense of it, we have to understand the psychology and strategy behind this major marketing transformation.

Here’s a closer look at live video—through the lenses of the hashtags that embody the reasons for its success.

Lessons for Your Brand from Facebook Live Video—As Told by Hashtags

#nofilter

It’s the hashtag that won’t go away—and with good reason. People’s fascination with raw, unfiltered content is as strong as ever. The reason DJ Khaled found explosive popularity on Snapchat is surprisingly simple: he was willing to broadcast seemingly trivial details about his life in great detail, and people loved tuning in. Whether he was doing something that only DJ Khaled could do, like, say, riding his jet ski to Rick Ross’ house, or something that anyone could do, like eating breakfast, he documented it in a way that seemed authentic. People get curated content fatigue the same way they get ad fatigue, and it becomes a little too easy to scroll quickly through feeds of endlessly perfect pictures.

There’s something refreshing about Live (and live) content, and a huge part of it is the sense that it hasn’t been airbrushed, Photoshopped, or perfectly staged. There are plenty of other factors at work, but they all play into the same emotions that captivate audiences on other live or fleeting platforms.

#FOMO

Another trendy hashtag is behind the undeniable appeal of live video is #FOMO (fear of missing out), and it’s strong with live video. Why? Because if you don’t tune in while it’s happening, you might miss out on something everyone else saw. Apple was one of the first brands to famously capitalize on live video (and, by extension, FOMO) as a way of gaining public attention. The brand held uber-exclusive launch events for new products, but let laymen in on the fun through live streams.

The same principle can be applied today, whether it’s breaking news or a preplanned event. People want to participate so they don’t miss out on anything—no matter if it’s missing the event itself or the breathless conversation about the event as it happens (a hugely popular feature of Facebook Live video) or right after (around water coolers in offices the world over). If your brand hosts an event, livestreaming it is a great way to increase the intangible ROI of a location-specific expenditure.

Unpredictable Content, Predictable Results

Live video is breaking barriers all over again. The first era of live news brought us the infamous OJ Simpson car chase, among other gloriously melodramatic moments, before Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction brought an abrupt end to the hilarity and an introduction of the term tape delay.

Today, brands wondering about live video have to be ready to accept the unpredictable nature of real life on their social channels. But while the content might be unpredictable, the results are far from it. The aforementioned Trump Tower climber raked in hundreds of thousands of live viewers for CNN, ABC, and other outlets, while events of every kind are receiving increased attention from viewers who can’t literally be in attendance. Just as every occasion has a live viewing audience, every social platform is moving towards some version of live video streaming. Whether live content is an obvious part of your brand’s content strategy or something to daydream about for future planning, it will soon be a part of whatever social network your content strategy favors, so it’s worth understanding it today to be more prepared for tomorrow.

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No Need to Change the Channel

From Twitter’s deals with PAC-12 and Thursday Night Football to the recent announcement that Tumblr is launching its own live video service, no social channel is immune to the live video craze. While each platform has its own audience and each live video stream within a given platform has a smaller niche, some will emerge as priceless ways to target certain demographics with the highest level of the hottest content.

We don’t have to remind you that video is a really big deal, or that the intrigue of live video is just now heating up. You don’t have to make major adjustments to your social media strategy to capitalize on the (live) video craze—every platform is trending towards the same new normal, so they can retain their own unique audiences without denying brands (or users) access to the content styles they crave. Whether you’re ready to livestream something crazy or just want to understand why so many people are “going live” these days, understanding the appeal of live video can inform your content marketing whether you choose to use it or not.

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John Montesi is a content marketing specialist who has worked with major companies in Silicon Valley's B2B and SaaS sector. He has placed professional articles in major online industry publications and personal writing in literary journals. John is a technophilic Luddite who still giggles every time his Google Calendar syncs to his phone. He likes to explain complicated concepts with whimsy and ease and is an accidental SME on software, real estate, sports, art, music, cars, and lifestyle brands.

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