Remember Chewbacca Mom? In May of 2016 Candace Payne took to Facebook from the driver’s seat of her car to live broadcast her excitement about a mask of Star War’s Chewbacca she had just bought. Between uncontrollable bursts of laughter the mask let out a wookie sounds sparking more hysterical laughter. The video has 166 million.
Fast-forward almost a year and Facebook Live has become a powerful tool to live broadcast a range of events, anything from young people pranking their grandmother to product tutorials by technophiles to citizens reporting from war-torn cities in a the Middle East. In addition to broadcasting live, video hosts may save the broadcast for others to see later. Any Facebook user may save the video in their “saved videos” section, share on their wall, ‘like’, and engage by commenting and asking questions for the video subjects to address.
My job is to help Penn alumni build communities on the basis of cultural affinity. Penn has 290,000 alumni based all over the world. While large cities are easier to engage, building and connecting communities across the U.S. are a challenge due to differences in geography and interests.
In March and April, my team will be using Facebook Live for the first time to engage alumni by community and interest in subject matter. We will be conducting a series of talks and interviews with experts on various social justice topics. We will be broadcasting from Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, Phoenix, and Washington, DC and will be encouraging everyone to tune in nationally. We anticipate that using the Facebook Live platform will be more accessible and successful in real-time engagement. We have previously used a webinar platform, but the technical aspects of whether or not viewers had the correct plug-ins to view/listen and whether or not the speakers (webinar subjects) had a good quality camera and knew how to use it. Oftentimes, we structured the webinar sessions is the safest way, by putting up a PowerPoint presentation and asking speakers to only use their computer microphone (with a run-through on the phone a few days before to test the technology). Facebook Live allows users to view and broadcast from the comfort of their most reliable devices, whether desktop, phone, or tablet: a perpetual television camera and network in your pocket/bag.
The virality of Facebook Live videos (10 most popular Facebook Live videos of 2016) is yet another frontier in social engagement and marketing. We hope to tap into the widespread success of this tool in our efforts to become more relevant and accessible to all.