Facebook Live Video Number 1: The Impending Eruption!

How do a Facebook Live BroadcastWhat do you do when you get a couple dozen breathless emails from people planning a vacation to the place you live, folks who need to make a decision fast as to whether they should cancel their vacation or not, because there’s a volcano that’s about to erupt there…..?

Well, what I did was my first Facebook Live video experiment.

It was just me talking for several minutes about the impending volcanic eruption here in the island of Bali, Indonesia where I’ve had a place since 2005. Not hard for me to do.

Update on the Bali volcano situation Sep. 26

Is it OK for you to come to Bali right now? I've had a lot of inquiries from Wagefreedom.com readers so here's a fast update on the Bali Mt. Agung volcano situation.

Posted by Wage Freedom on Monday, September 25, 2017

In a few hours I’ll send it out to several thousand subscribers on my email list for that site.

Lately I’ve been writing here on Digital Media Minute about how Facebook and YouTube see much more engagement with live video, so their algorithms now favor it. I’ll translate that for those of you who aren’t marketing geeks like me. It means free exposure.

The thing is that live video done right can have both extremely low costs and be very effective. You could deliver whatever you’re doing in the form of tutorials, AMAs (Ask Me Anything), revies of products, interviews, etc.

As a viewer I know I’d be more forgiving of small production slipups, too many “ums” and a shaking camera (the last two of which you’ll see above!), if it was delivered live. It just seems more interesting because you feel like anything can happen.

A person told me after he saw this live video session that he was just mesmerized by the fact that I was speaking live from the other side of the world about what was happening this morning in Bali. There’s an immediacy with live video that you aren’t getting with the wall-to-wall non-live video Facebook is showing you in your News Feed n0wadays.

At any rate, I’m seeing both Youtube Live and Facebook Live video a lot more from marketers I respect, just in the last few months.

So why can’t I do the same? And, for that matter, why can’t you? What’s your expertise?

I can leverage a tropical island and I can talk about expat-ism, digital nomads and generally using the Internet to make money till the cows come home. A lot of people in the world aren’t too interested in those topics, but enough are for me to talk to them.

So tactic number one for me will to see if I can swing my subscriber list around to follow me on Facebook, and then see if I can get them to show up when I have something to talk about.

I think the plan for now is to go in with one narrow-ish topic that I can cover in two or three minutes, and just do so as well as I can and then sign off. Don’t waste anyone’s time and don’t bore them.

Of course if someone has questions I could segue into other answers or topics.

What I don’t want to do is the be one of these guys who, well, just talk. I wouldn’t disparage anyone’s business model but I the other night I saw basically the direction I don’t want to go: a guy with purple hair was walking around San Francisco looking for a place to eat. Several hundred people were watching his YouTube Live broadcast.

Finally, he ordered onion rings. That was the point of the video….. More power to him.

The ‘M’ Word

And making money with live video? My attitude is that if you have the audience there is always a way to make money from it. Especially if your intentions are good and ypu really do ‘provide value’, even if that value is entertainment.

Either entertain or help. Or both.

Lord knows I’m not very entertaining but I’ve helped a lot of people make money online and also make the transition to becoming an expat. It’s a start.

And it was fun.

Now I just need an Airselfie.

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Facebook Live: Why You Need To Use It

Way back in March of 2016 Facebook announced that its algorithm would be favoring live video content even more than it does regular native video in News Feed.

Remember that Facebook didn’t arbitrarily decide to do this: naturally it’s a response to user consumption patterns.

When a company tells you not only what’s working best for engaging users on its platform, but that they’re basically changing the rules to favor content produced in a given format, you’d think that companies would sit up, take notice and aggressively move into producing content in that format, at least to test.

But in this case, at least so far, you’d be wrong. Take a look at this chart from socialbakers. What do you see? I see a huge, gaping opportunity for brands, or companies of any size.

facebook live video brand usage
Image: socialbakers.com

Think of the advantages of making use of Facebook Live in 2017:

  • People like it. Facebook users are more likely to (consume/engage) with live video content.
  • Facebook really hopes you’ll use it. All else being equal, Facebook will give you an advantage in the News Feed over other types of content the competition is creating.
  • Potentially low production costs. By applying some creativity, cost-conscious companies and brands can keep the expense of leveraging live video relatively low. Post-production costs are not a factor with live video, and you’ll probably be forgiven for not having slick production with Facebook Live. It’s easy to imagine approaches that make use of spontaneity, personality and raw information over elaborate sets, etc. All this adds up to real opportunity for disruption vs companies with larger budgets.
  • Competitive advantage. Your competition in your niche is probably having a hard time making Facebook Live work for them, or more likely, aren’t even trying!
  • A chance to leverage organic reach again. This is not paid advertising. The costs of this exposure is limited to production costs which again, can be kept low. Even testing paid Facebook ads can get expensive. One good idea well-executed with Facebook Live could achieve or exceed the kind of reach we’d love to achieve with paid ads.

If you’re handling marketing for a company of any size, you should be testing ways to reach prospects and customers with Facebook Live.

For marketing agencies the opportunity is profound. Look again at the chart above. In 18 months the adoption of Facebook Live by brands is virtually negligible.

An agency that can find a way to help its clients systematically make effective use of Facebook Live would be filling a huge need from which it could really expand its client base.

Facebook And Native Ads–A Hidden Edge That Could Have Make You Rich

Hot takes clickbait titles
Read From The Bottom Tweet!

I was drawn into this little series of tweets from Chris Mims, saying that having been a creator of ‘hot takes’, he knew that the trick–or one trick at least–was to appeal to the reader’s prejudices.

Having done quite a bit of affiliate marketing using paid traffic in my day, I’m sensitized to listen to the opinions of those who have been in the trenches. When you’re in that game you’re always seeking that (mythical) realization that could deliver you the sacred edge. It might come from anywhere, even a series of late night tweets…

I can’t ignore the larger implications of what’s happening here either.

We’re at a point where technology–social media in this case–is again changing the way we communicate.

Specifically: there is a gap between the ability of the tech to convey a message in a way that benefits the person who sent it, and the awareness or level of sophistication of the audience to understand on a basic level what the hell they’re looking at.

To be clear, the ‘people who sent it’ could be anyone from affiliate marketers to your local plumber to Russian operatives running through dozens or hundreds of Facebook accounts, staying active by swapping in farmed accounts as fast as they get banned.

So yes, the level of sophistication of the people doing the advertising varies widely, but at this time all benefit from their targeted audience’s far greater collective lack of sophistication.

Our collective difficulty is akin to illiteracy. It’s a basic skills challenge that’s not being handled by any sort of systematized understanding of these ad platforms, most notably (but by no means only) Facebook, native advertising platforms (Revcontent, Outbrain, AdNow, etc.) and Google properties.

We’ve had new forms of advertising burst on the scene rapidly, and it’s caused the kind of confusion (and manipulation) that springs from too many people being too unaware of the grammar of a new language, in effect.

It’s also made Facebook and Native advertising especially a potentially very lucrative playground for creative advertisers.

In this case the medium itself, lends itself to–it almost insists on–a blurring of the line between entertainment and deception.

It’s far too simplistic to say that “Fake News” is Facebook’s or the TV networks’ fault. When it comes to advertising, which funds everything let’s remember, the formats that are available to push an agenda are as potentially seductive as they are potentially deceptive.

Let’s look at Mims’ ‘hot takes’.

“The fastest way to go viral is to cater to the prejudices of your audiences. But it’s not serving anyone.”
“I’ll be honest: sometimes I miss hot takes though. It’s more performance art than anything.”
“Of course if you *really* want your hot take to go viral, write a ‘counter-intuitive’ take that just confirms your audiences biases.”
“All hot takes are social signaling. Which is also the function of sharing them. Facebook is not a news distribution medium.”

Note that Mims isn’t talking about products or political candidates at all. He is talking about attention, and how to attract it to your message in a way that scales.

Because the potential to scale here–what we mean when we say “virality”–is critical to this new language.

At any rate, ordinary people don’t hear musing like this from Mims often enough to get a sense of the situation from the other side. You don’t yet hear things like this articulated enough to beat back the current naivete of most people when they look at a native ad, or fail to understand that it isn’t Facebook that follows them around, showing them sponsored content…

And why would the ones who’ve been on the other side be particularly interested in explaining to you how the new grammar works? Keeping the general public unaware of what they are looking at keep the gap I mentioned earlier alive, and as wide as possible.

It is opportunity pure and simple–an edge. A profound one actually, that’s made a large number of people millionaires, and possibly played a big part in getting a candidate elected US President.

Think about what Mims is saying. It’s not about what’s happening or what you’re selling. It’s about telling a story via an emotionally provocative angle, pure and simple. An effective hook in a time of attention diluted so profoundly that phones are as vital to dinner time as food.

By the way, over time the sophistication of people reading these ‘hot takes’, viral headlines, intriguing images that defy one to click on them just to find out what in the world one is looking at, will rise.

Of course there will be more means to distribute scaled deception, seductive ‘hot takes’ too.

We’re seeing the start of this with software that allows us to alter video so that it looks like a person is speaking words they never said. We are already there with this tech, so my goodness imagine where we’ll be in 10 years.

We will simply not be able to believe our eyes and ears when it comes to video, and see aphorisms like “don’t believe everything you read” evolve into statements like “don’t believe anything that doesn’t happen right in front of you in the physical world”?

I don’t know how rational debates happen in a world where we can’t believe our eyes and ears, but I’d imagine it will feel a little like a juiced version of the skepticism people have had to employ for the last several decades when looking at or reading media reports.

A healthy skepticism as always, but amplified to match the potential deceptiveness of media, or more accurately, more powerful media in the hands of those who would manipulate.

This is not the end of the world, though it might feel like that for some people who cling to the media to provide some form of certainty. And isn’t that the point here?

That more than ever before you’ll have to do the hard thing and THINK critically.

Otherwise you will be simply a tool in the agenda of other people, marketers and most certainly people who promote politicians.

It’s as pointless to wring our hands over this as it would be to blame Facebook for taking money from anyone at all who wants to run ads…well at least under the current laws.

But all this naivete of course extends to our politicians, who aren’t likely quite yet anyway to really understand Facebook and native advertising, and are no doubt incentivized to look the other way anyway.

It’s ironic that a growing number of them will have been helped in their election campaigns by people who certainly did understand the details of  modern advertising/targeting/audience segmentation etc. works.

They, the ones who need to regulate new advertising just as TV, radio, etc. has always been, are still taking advantage of this gap between the sophistication of advertisers’ messaging and the understanding of the platforms delivering those messages had by the general public.

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