Why and How To Use Facebook Live As It Becomes A Ranking Signal

Chris CrumSocial Media

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Last week, Facebook announced that it now takes live video into account when ranking content in the news feed. In other words, live video is now a bigger deal when it comes to getting in front of people on Facebook.

Have you experimented with Facebook Live yet? Do you intend to use it to engage customers and followers? Discuss.

In early December, Facebook began letting a small percentage of people in the U.S. stream live video from their iPhones. Later that month, they expanded this to all verified pages. In January, Facebook announced that the feature was rolling out to all U.S. iPhone users. Then, in early February, they opened up the functionality to the Pages Manager app for iPhone in the U.S.

In late February, Facebook announced it would begin rolling out the ability for people on Android to share live video. This starts in the U.S. with more countries to follow. Now, Facebook is making all of this live video matter more by putting it higher in the priority list when it comes to what people see in their News Feeds.

"As with any new type of content in News Feed, we are learning what signals help us show you the most relevant Facebook Live videos for you personally," the company said in an announcement. "For example, a few years ago when more people began sharing and watching video on Facebook we listened to feedback to learn what signals helped us show people more of the videos they want to see and fewer of the videos they don’t. At first we updated News Feed ranking to take into account how many people watched a video and how long people watched for to help us personalize News Feed based on people’s preference for watching video. Over time we also learned that certain actions people take on a video, such as choosing to turn on sound or making the video full screen, are good signs they wanted to see that video, even if they didn’t choose to like it."

"Now that more and more people are watching Live videos, we are considering Live Videos as a new content type – different from normal videos – and learning how to rank them for people in News Feed," Facebook added. "As a first step, we are making a small update to News Feed so that Facebook Live videos are more likely to appear higher in News Feed when those videos are actually live, compared to after they are no longer live. People spend more than 3x more time watching a Facebook Live video on average compared to a video that’s no longer live. This is because Facebook Live videos are more interesting in the moment than after the fact."

Facebook says it doesn't expect Pages to see significant changes because of the update. This makes sense considering that most Pages can't use the feature yet. Right now, it's only available to users, verified Pages, and public figures using Mentions.

If and when live video streaming does become available to all pages, this ranking signal will obviously matter a great deal more. Of course Pages are already competing for that News Feed real estate, and if they're all given this feature and using live video, not much is going to change here. It will still just be one of many signals.

Facebook prioritizing live videos would seemingly give it an edge up on Twitter's Periscope app, which provides very similar functionality. Periscope, however isn't limited to verified accounts.

Brandlive recently polled businesses, finding that 44% had produced one or more live streaming videos in the last year, and that 20% intend to do so over the next year. Of those who plan on doing live streams over the coming year, most plan to do consumer panels, and the second biggest intended use case is virtual tours. 65% of those polled don't currently have video production teams.

Smart Facebook Live users will take advantage of the video content they're creating and utilize it in other ways. DigiDay has a piece about TMZ's use of the feature, which includes little live shows they do at different times of the week. They then re-use clips across platforms.

According to the report, TMZ's Facebook Live videos attract about 100,000 viewers. This has no doubt been helped not only by the new ranking signal, but the fact that Facebook has been giving users notifications of live video broadcasts. I've seen quite a few of these for TMZ specifically. Users will soon be able to turn all live video notifications off, however, so the effectiveness of that may soon wear off. DigiDay reports in a separate article:

Make no mistake though. Facebook wants to push live video in front of users as much as it can get away with - hence the new ranking signal. The company is also reportedly looking to pay celebrities to use Facebook Live to make it grow more. According to Peter Kafka, Sheryl Sandberg herself has been reaching out to talent agencies about this.

For now, the average business owner or marketer may not be able to take advantage of Facebook Live with their business page, but Facebook will undoubtedly open this up to you eventually. In the meantime, you can still use it through your personal account.

Our friend Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith, whom we spoke with about utilizing various Facebook tools last year, appeared on a podcast on Friday to talk about Facebook Live.

"What I love about it is that you already have your audience built in," she said. "So whether you're going to use the live streaming video feature on your personal profile or your Page, you have an audience."

"At the end of the day, it's basically the ability to create more connection - a deeper connection - more intimacy, more authenticity, more of that human-to-human connection to really humanize or personalize your brand," she said.

Listen to the whole conversation here.

Facebook itself offers 8 tips for using Facebook Live. These are:

You can read what the company has to say about each of these as well as see some examples from successful broadcasts on this page at Facebook's Media site.

If you are already using Periscope or Meerkat, there will of course be plenty of overlap in the use cases between those services and Facebook Live.

Do you intend to use Facebook Live for business purposes? Let us know in the comments.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.