Written by Alex Hilleary • July 26, 2017
In early 2016, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg made international headlines with a bold claim: “a few years from now [...] the vast majority of the content that people consume online will be video.” His logic was easy to follow, as “most of the content 10 years ago was text, and then photos, and now it’s quickly becoming videos.”
Live video was of particular interest, as Zuckerberg proclaimed that it offers an unfiltered medium by which to share moments. His declaration brought the world’s biggest social media platform into the streaming arena and drastically increased awareness of live streaming’s power as a tool.
Photo Source: The Crunchies
The move has proven to be a major success for the tech company. 78% of online audiences now watch video on Facebook and people watch live videos three times longer than pre-recorded ones.
The growth of the platform shows that it isn’t merely a way to share videos about cats and Chewbacca masks. Instead, it’s a powerful tool by which people and organizations can share important messages with large audiences. Consider, for instance, that more than eight million people tuned in to watch the first presidential debate live on Facebook.
This post explores the various upsides of using Facebook Live to engage your civic audience, but cautions as to the risks of using it as your only streaming platform.
Nearly 2 Billion People are on Facebook
As the biggest social media platform in the world, Facebook empowers you to grow your community. The platform rewards viewer engagement (shares, likes, and comments) and can help point new viewers to your content.
The Audience Trends Younger
Television is becoming increasingly antiquated for younger audiences. As they continue to cut cords and turn to digital sources for daily content, Facebook is a wonderful way to reach them with your message.
You Can Grow Your Communication Streams
Publishing great content on your Facebook Live streams will drive more people to “like” your Facebook page. Once you have this captive audience, you can use your Facebook page to reach these people with other types of communication as well.
Facebook Live is far from a perfect platform. Here are three important limitations worth considering.
Limited Reach Beyond the Platform
While Facebook Live is great for connecting to people within the Facebook platform itself, its reach is constricted beyond that. The only people who can see the content you share on Facebook Live are people with Facebook accounts. Your viewers are everywhere - not just on Facebook.
With BoxCast’s end-to-end live streaming platform, you can choose to share your stream to Facebook Live, but also to YouTube Live, AppleTV and Roku Channels, and – most importantly – your own website.
Poor Stream Quality
Many people think that creating a great stream on Facebook Live is as easy as pulling out their iPhone and shooting video.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
If you want to provide your viewers with a great viewing experience, a single-camera shot from a smart phone isn’t going to cut it. Why not use the video equipment you’ve used to broadcast your cable access channels? BoxCast’s streaming platform makes it easy to incorporate any production equipment, including a wide array of cameras and switchers, into a professional-looking live broadcast.
One you’re happy with the look of your stream, BoxCast makes it easy to use Facebook Live as a distribution channel for your content. You can see how easy it is to Use BoxCast to Stream to Facebook Live in this short video.
Lack of Customer Support
When you stream a live event, there’s a ton on the line. People tuning in from various locations expect a reliable stream. With high expectations that all ride on you, it’s a relief to know that someone’s in your corner.
If you run into an issue with your Facebook Live Stream, who do you call? There’s no way to contact someone at Facebook to answer your questions or concerns.
BoxCast’s Cleveland-based support team, on the other hand, will diagnose your issue and provide specific recommendations on how to improve it.
Though the ability to leave comments lets your viewers to interact with the stream, it also enables individuals to hide behind a screen and post hostile or inappropriate messages.
It’s important to establish a comment policy on your Facebook page that allows for disagreement and debate, but that also gives you grounds to remove comments that are inappropriate for your community setting. You might designate someone to monitor the feed.
Should you not have the time or resources to have someone monitor a comment section, consider using BoxCast to stream directly to your website. That way you won’t have to deal with any inappropriate or embarrassing comments.
All in all, Facebook Live lets you take advantage of Facebook’s immense social media platform. However, as you work to build out a digital streaming solution for your organization, consider how you will handle unwanted comments, the quality of your stream, and the strength of posting to various distribution channels. Ultimately, you’ll want to best represent you city council and provide your community with a wonderful viewing experience.
If you're interested in incorporating social media into your municipality's communications strategy, be sure to read this first: How Municipalities Can Build a Strong Social Media Presence.