Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Going LIVE! Can Kill Relationships

The new Facebook Live is popular. I know this because my phone is blowing up with notifications that so-and-so is now live.

These live posts are from everyone. There are friends showing their antics at the lake, or an activity at the office. There are self-appointed gurus of advertising, public relations, or something else posting live commentary. The various media outlets I follow have been going live, even the print ones that used to mock TV for going LIVE! for nebulous reasons. And of course various consumer brands and nonprofit organizations are going live at their events and for other reasons.

As I posted recently on my own Facebook account--those who go live too often will soon be dead to me.

Here is the problem with all technology: too many people use it because it is new, because they can, or because others are as opposed to harnessing some discernible value for themselves or others they are hoping to serve. This is now evident again with Facebook Live.

Many people are jumping on the bandwagon, going live because they can, not because there is some merit or reason for real-time proclamation or airing of whatever content they have.

There's a current ad that speaks to this, the one about the lawn mower. "It's not how fast you mow, it's how well you mow fast." The humor in the ad is that this silly statement becomes a meme. But it inspires me to offer a suggestion about live posting, on Facebook Live, Periscope, or other platforms: it's not that you can go live, but why and how you do it.

So let me offer some cautionary commentary to individuals and brands about going live. You can read this right now or later, it's up to you.


  • Everyone is doing it is not an excuse for children or professionals. If you see others doing something, you do not need to also do it. It should not be about how cool you look or keeping up with others. It should be about offering value to whomever you want to or expect to view your content. 
  • Consider the context and environment. Again, if everyone is going live, then your live offering will more likely be seen as an annoyance than a contribution. We quickly cross a line from interesting to intrusive and inundation. 
  • Time-shifting is also a thing. A key motivator in media consumption, particularly TV but other media as well, is the public control of WHEN. We record programs to binge watch later. We stream music playlists more often than listening to radio. We catch up with friends and any brands we follow on social media when we have a moment. So the live movement is contradicting this media convention. 
  • Having something to say is a better motivator than having to say something. Content itself can not be a commodity. There has to be something meaningful there, or it is only noise. How you say things also matters as much as what you say. So Live content must have an urgency or timelines to it that justifies a live notification--another one along with all the others--that justifies it.
In a nutshell, PR and Ad pros responsible for social media management need to be judicious about live content. Try to be interesting and instructive, not merely an interruption. Just as sending news releases daily to a newsroom has a "cry wolf" effect in which you'll soon be ignored, posting too much and too irrelevant live content will get you unfollowed in real-time. Here are a few ideas that might merit going live:

  • Legitimately urgent information. This could be really positive information, your own version of 'breaking news,' that has actual urgent interest to your publics, or it could be an added means of transparency and efficiency in crisis communication.
  • Live events. A nonprofit donor-recognition dinner, a corporate product launch event, a government speech. We can be the media with these and other types of events. Remember to base the decision to go live on viewer interest and not personal or organizational ego.
  • Engagement. Live offers the opportunity for virtual conversations and presentations, a Facebook version of a press conference. Allow people to ask questions via email or some other social platform, and respond on camera in the Facebook Live platform. 
I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has used Facebook Live creatively, if you've measured the response of intended viewers, or other thoughts you have on the topic.

1 comment:

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