Facebook Live: A Blessing or a Curse?

On April 6, 2016, something magical happened. Facebook announced they were debuting Facebook Live, which is video – shot in real time. As you tune in, the live feed is literally taking place. Wow, right? Well, it can be. But, as most things do, there are still three sides to it: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good

Since it’s launch, Facebook Live has been surpassing all expectations. For marketers, it’s a gold mine. To connect with consumers in real time, and to be able to see who is tuning in? SCORE. Benefit Cosmetics used the platform to host a series titled “Tipsy Tricks” every Thursday at 4:15 pm. They simultaneously cover beauty tips while sipping on wine, essentially making it feel like you are across from them, sipping your own glass. On National Hamburger Day, McDonald’s kicked off their Facebook Live career with a burger themed Bob Ross art segment. After launching this innovative segment, McDonald’s says that 80% of the feedback they received from the campaign was either positive or neutral. After their entrance into the Facebook Live arena, they even added a second major campaign to the Live feed world – their campaign to gift bottles of Big Mac Sauce during the “there’s a Big Mac for that” campaign. The possibilities of Facebook Live are endless – literally. This solidifies the fact that media platforms for marketers are changing faster than ever before, but with every good, comes a bad.

The Bad

Facebook Live is something that can’t be erased or unseen. Once marketers hit that button, they have invited the whole world of consumers to view them, unscripted. Sure, it can be deleted from the Facebook page post-live feed. But those who tuned in as it went live, can literally never unsee it. This makes the technologically uncharted territory – we have never experienced something so intimate and fragile before. For this reason, brands need to be even smarter about what they say and do. Every video needs to be flawlessly planned, and hiccups need to be anticipated. In May 2016, Buzzfeed scored an interview with President Barack Obama. Unfortunately for them, the video included two awkward minutes of Chris Geidner, Buzzfeed’s legal editor, introducing the interview and waiting on the President. In March, HBO had a great Facebook Live concept that literally was full of fire…. And never ending ice. Clearly, they didn’t think through the actual process of melting a block of ice via Facebook Live. Spoiler alert: the stream included over a hour of footage of ice melting.. with quite a few glitches.  As these Facebook Live fails show, it’s not all fun and games in the marketing world of Facebook Live. There have been numerous fails thus far.

The Ugly

Although Facebook Live is such a magical thing, it too has an ugly side that occasionally veers it’s head. Facebook Live has been recently under scrutiny for users that use it for unintended purposes. Users have been using the platform to record unethical practices. There was the man who literally murdered someone on a Facebook Live feed – and then committed suicide. There was a live feed of bullying that led to four arrests. And many other examples of the misconstrued use of the marketer’s dream platform. These occurrences cement the fact that what is good for one, is not always good for all. As technology becomes more advanced, marketers and creators have to put their heads together and combat those who misuse these platforms. The ugly just may be too ugly to handle, if Facebook and affiliated personnel don’t find some way to weed out the “good” feeds from the “ugly”. Regardless of how many great campaigns were generated with the platform, Facebook Live may cease to exist if it isn’t altered. Facebook Live could be both a blessing or a curse. Only time will tell how innovations can save the platform from self implosion.

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