Facebook Live Video world map

May 27, 2016: Facebook has introduced Live Video capabilities to all its members to encourage more personal sharing. While it’s impossible to predict the degree to which businesses, large and small, will flock to live streaming, anecdotal sampling of Facebook’s live streams reveals who the early adopters are. This data is based on a sample of Facebook Live Video feeds taken over the past two days (May 25th-26th) between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM EST.

Initial Observations

Facebook’s world map UI shows all the live streams going on throughout the world.  It’s a terrifically intuitive way to easily zoom in and to see what’s happening “on the ground.”

But what’s surprising – at least to me — is that while Facebook has a huge (more than 220 million) membership in the U.S., there only seemed to be, at maximum, 150 streams going on at once across the entire nation, and it was rare that any stream had more than a handful of viewers. Yes, FB Live Video is new, and many FB users may not be aware that they can stream. But if Facebook expected that Live Video would become a massive force in a short time,  what I observed suggests otherwise.

fbl-mediaBroadcasters and Newspapers

The New York Times, PBS, CNN, and many local radio and TV stations and local newspapers have presences on Facebook Live Video. While their view counts rarely tip 2,000, these feeds appear to be most popular right now, and viewership would likely spike if a local story becomes “hot.” For example, while I was scanning the feeds, a tornado alert popped up on the feed of a local news station, and the feed count jumped significantly. It makes a lot of sense for non-digital media owners to use Facebook Live to retransmit their feeds or, in the case of the New York Times, host interactive QA sessions, which extend the engagement potential of their brands.

fbl-schoolsPublic school events

Because it’s graduation time around the country, there were many Live Video feeds – most likely generated by parents seeking to communicate the joy of their child’s graduation to family members who couldn’t be on site. I also noticed quite a few somewhat shaky live streams from school plays and assemblies. Obviously, FB Live Video has powerful personal utility for many people who want to share content in this way, and this use will likely grow.

fbl-barbershopBarber shops and Tattoo Parlors

I found quite a few barbershops live streaming haircuts, and several tattoo parlors showing off their tattoos, with one engaged in an actual tattooing session. While view counts were only in the handfuls, it’s interesting to see so much interest in this new medium among hair and skin stylists.

I didn’t see streams from beauty parlors or plastic surgeons, but expect many will pop up, because it seems many of us really enjoy watching other people get shaved, tattooed, made up, and tummy-tucked.

fbl-advertising-agencyAdvertising Agencies

I only found one advertising agency – in the Midwest – hosting a Live Facebook event on behalf of a client, and only a handful of people tuning into this stream. I was somewhat surprised by the paucity of agencies hosting events, but it’s possible that FB Live Video is so new that their clients aren’t aware of it.

fbl-real-estateReal Estate Agents

I found a couple of real estate agents who were streaming images of properties they represent. Being able to stream live images provides them the ability to highlight the strengths of these properties, as well as do some old-style personal selling, so I’m sure this usage will grow in time.

Facebook Live Video: citizen self-brandersCitizen Self-Branders

I’d estimate that 95 percent of the streams happening across the entire U.S. are from local people, driving, walking, biking, lying in bed, or just living their lives. Some people just stared blankly at the camera, making for very poor television. Others were clearly motivated to “put on a show,” even if the performance only had a dozen or so viewers. Quite a good number – perhaps 10 percent of these – played musical instruments (acoustic or electric) or were playing electronic games. Many Live streamers were in their cars during their Facebook Live Video performances, and while some of these cars were parked, in many cases the live streamer drove and livestreamed at the same time – not a good idea from a public safety perspective.

What’s next?

Using Facebook’s Live Video map is a fun and diverting way to drop into live-streamed reality, but for it to be really useful to businesses, the UI needs some kind of search facility. For example, let’s say that I have an interest in tattoo parlors in Brooklyn, and want to see all live tattooing streams in the area. There’s no way to search by category or by business name right now, which limits my ability to find the business or do business with it.
I’d expect this to change soon, because Facebook wants to make live streaming as normal an activity for business as maintaining a web site or a social media presence.

Is your business on Facebook Live? Why (or why not?) Please let us know!

Summary
What kind of businesses are using Facebook Live Video?
Article Name
What kind of businesses are using Facebook Live Video?
Description
A quick survey of Facebook Live Video reveals which businesses are early adopters of the service.
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