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Facebook Live a Year Later

How can live video fit into your station’s digital strategy in 2018?

Seth Resler holds the title of digital dot connector at radio consultancy firm Jacobs Media. This story appeared in the Radio World eBook “Visual Radio 2018.”

Radio World: In 2017, you shared “7 Tips for Radio Stations Using Facebook Live.” It was a period when this function was still relatively new. The learning curve for social media platforms can be steep and changes can come fast. Is Facebook Live still a hot tool, or have broadcasters and their target audiences shifted eyes elsewhere? What’s the buzz?

Seth Resler: Facebook Live is still buzzworthy, as radio stations appear to be seeing a lot of engagement, and Facebook is reportedly placing a lot of emphasis on live video streaming. Whether buzz is turning into revenue, however, is another matter entirely.

RW: Facebook recently announced that it will, again, tweak its Newsfeed algorithm, this time to prioritize content shared by users’ family and friends. How might this affect stations’ social media efforts?

Resler: Most analysts expect that this change will have a negative effect on all businesses, including radio stations. We won’t know for sure until it plays out. Radio stations may want to invest more resources into other social networks, if they see a decrease in traffic from and engagement on Facebook.

Our founder, Fred Jacobs, recently blogged about this move by Facebook. You can see his thoughts here.

RW: What are the advantages (and disadvantages) of live video on social media, as opposed to more highly produced content that you can edit and then share online?

Resler: Most live video has a short shelf life; produced video can be evergreen, and still engage fans months or years after it was created.

I think it’s also harder to use live video to drive people to a specific action, such as clicking through to a station website.

However, I have seen radio stations that have invested a lot of resources into taking their live video streaming to the next level in terms of production value and content quality.

RW: How will stations know if their experiments in live video are successful?

Resler: Every radio station should set goals for its digital strategy. These goals should connect directly to revenue. For example, a radio station might include getting listeners to “register for the email database” or “stream the station” as its digital goals. The more goal completions you can attribute to live video streaming, the more successful it is.

Broadcasters should be wary when it comes to online metrics. Just because you can quantify something, that doesn’t mean that it’s important. Avoid data points that you can’t connect back to the station’s bottom line. The number of likes and comments that a live video gets can be a positive sign, but if you can’t translate them into revenue, don’t overestimate their importance.

RW: If a station is just starting out, what’s the most important element to focus on for Facebook Live or similar platforms?

Resler: The most important element to focus on is driving traffic back to your website, where you can encourage people to complete digital goals, such as signing up for the email list, clicking on an ad, or streaming the station.

Doing video well takes a lot of effort. If you’re just starting out and you have limited resources, carefully consider whether more tried and true channels like Twitter or YouTube would be a better place to invest resources.

RW: Anything else readers should know?

Resler: To reiterate what Fred said in the blog post referenced above, it’s important for radio stations to focus on creating quality content in a space that they “own,” not “rent.” Facebook’s goal is to keep people on Facebook, and that may not align with your radio station’s goals.

When you livestream video on Facebook, you’re creating content for Facebook. There may be a place for this in your radio station’s digital strategy, but make sure you step back and fully understand what that place is.

Don’t get caught up in adopting a new digital tool just because you think you have to. Always keep your overall digital goals in mind.