14 Oct 2016

Last week I watched a live gym session posted on Facebook by one of my friends (the things you watch whilst waiting for the kettle to boil). Almost instantly a mutual friend sent me a message telling me that we were both watching this video at the same time. I turned off my laptop and took a deep breath. Gone are the days of anonymous voyeurism then…

With a reported three times more time spent watching live videos on Facebook than pre-recorded ones, it looks like this is not going to fade away. Since its launch earlier this year, we can’t get enough. And these videos are as diverse and as bonkers as they are informative. Universally acknowledged best Facebook Live videos include; Tough Mudder, The Grazia Brexit Debate, and anything by Buzzfeed, again, it seems. Watermelons everywhere.

We now have sport being streamed live on Facebook, Z list celebrity rants, police stand offs to name a few. Recently, The Telegraph reported that an increasing number of funerals are being live streamed to ‘pander to the lazy mourner’ – where will it all end? Do we not need anything edited anymore? With a generation of Instagrammers filtering photos to within an inch of its original virtual negative, I find this hard to believe.

So what does this mean for companies engaging with their customers? Do live broadcasting platforms mean a neat, streamlined and effective route for businesses to keep their communities engaged? Or does real-time, unedited content leave them open to risking reputations?

Facebook Live provides access to a seemingly infinite potential audience, which means the need for good content is still, as always, key. A potential client will Google you. ‘Good’ or ‘bad’ live video content will gather eyes across the internet a lot quicker than you can share ‘Top ten things to never tweet your followers’.

The big problem brands and companies will face is keeping it real whilst taking more risks with reputations in order to increase their profile. We’ve seen individuals exploit so-called reality TV for their own gain, all too aware of the cameras. Will companies be able to stream authentic, relevant yet brand savvy content without it all being too staged?

When things go wrong –a product or service that fell short of expectations, or any sort of social media misfire- if live streaming becomes the mainstay for businesses, will there be instant apologies broadcast to all who will listen? Will written statements be a thing of the past? Will audiences start demanding live admissions of accountability?

Disruptor companies such as Uber and the apps threatening the banking industry have been a stark reminder that those disrupted need to keep evolving and exploiting new platforms. Who knew that ‘disposable’ Snapchat would now be a useful corporate recruitment tool?

Kodak is a classic example of a company failing to understand the latest trends in customer consumption. They knew digital photography ‘was a thing’ but didn’t embrace it fast enough. There are already tips online for businesses using this platformand they need to decide how far live broadcasting will go.Kodak et al will tell you to embrace the change now. Your audience is ready. You will know instantly if it has worked.

Whichever way it goes, right now the stage is all yours….

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Victoria Thomas

Editorial and Operations Manager

An experienced PR professional having worked both in-house and agency side, she has expertise in corporate, consumer and crisis PR. Victoria has also worked on high profile national and global campaigns, including The British Airways Great Britons campaign for London 2012.

+44 (0)20 8875 7976