Facebook LIVE: Past, Present & Future

Facebook Live.

You’ve seen it; we’ve all seen it. No doubt you’ve starred in one yourself.

But where has it come from and, more importantly, where is it going?

Joe Gradwell is Social Chain’s Head of Network and the brains behind some of our most engaged Facebook Live videos.

Here he writes about the future of Facebook Live and the importance of innovation.

The early days of Facebook Live

Facebook Live was initially rolled out in April 2015 to a handful of verified users.

Although a key channel now, many were against the idea of going live initially due to its smartphone camera quality and limited capabilities.

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Not much had changed when Facebook Live was unveiled to the public the following January.

But something marvellous happened in April of that year when Facebook unveiled their live streaming API.

The Facebook Live revolution

Facebook’s new and improved channel allowed users to create live streams with third party software while using a laptop or desktop PC.

The change marked the start of a live streaming revolution with Facebook casting a dark shadow over Twitter‘s Periscope.

All these people in the world and you’re still single

Keen to capitalise on the emerging platform, we launched a live stream on our Student Problems page (the UK’s largest student community).

We built the stream around a live count of the world’s population, alongside the caption ‘all these people in the world and you’re still single’.

The stunt gained an exceptional level of engagement, with well over a million views.

Of course, we knew the idea would resonate with our community but we’d be lying if we expected such a high level of interaction.

We later adapted the format for Sporf with a stream that poked fun at Manchester City FC’s lack of Premier League wins.

Sporf’s Facebook likes subsequently rocketed from 75,000 to well over 100,000, with the stream reaching an impressive audience of 5.4 million.

The need to innovate: Trump vs. Nugget

We were merely scratching the surface of Facebook Live’s capabilities at that point.

So, in a bid to push our engagement levels further, we set about developing our live offering based on real-time conversation.

The result? A US election spoof live vote, featuring Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and a chicken nugget.

Nugget proved to be the worthy winner, although not without serious debate. But politics aside, the stream recorded a total reach of 14 million and 1.2 million likes.

Live streaming, but not in the conventional sense

Our live campaigns for Sporf and Student Problems had shown the true value of audience interaction.

Taking what we had learned so far, we adapted the concepts once again and created a unique Black Friday quiz for online fashion retailer boohoo.

The quiz proved to be hugely popular, claiming 360,000 comments on one of the busiest days of the year for retail brands.

In fact, it currently sits among the top three most engaged Facebook Live branded streams ever.

But why quit while you’re ahead, right?

That’s when the idea for a Jose Mourinho pre-match interview stunt came along.

By using facial and voice recognition software, we were able to invent a live roast for Sporf, with the help of a Mourinho impressionist and some clever animation.

The stunt marked a new era of pre-match social content, gaining 1600 unique engagements and reaching an audience of 151,000 people in just 20 minutes!

The future of live streaming

Live streaming has had a huge impact on social media and the future looks just as exciting, especially with new advances in VR and augmented reality.

In the meantime, our vision is to increase the production quality to broadcast standard.

We’ve enjoyed experimenting with live streaming, but we mustn’t get complacent. After all, innovation today is history tomorrow.

Watch this space!

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