What We Learned from Three Months of Facebook Live (and How You Can Get the Most Out of It)

Written by Laura Roeder

On April 10, 2018
The last thing anyone needs is another blog post telling them how valuable it can be to post live video on Facebook.

(Because it is. But you already know that.)

The real question is, what might happen when you try it?

What should you actually EXPECT from using Facebook live?

Maybe you haven’t tried sharing a broadcast yet.

Maybe you did it once or twice, but felt underwhelmed by the whole thing. (Like when you tried cronuts.)

We feel you.

That’s why we wanted to share what we’ve learned from going live on Facebook ourselves.

Want to learn more social media tips, tactics and strategies? We share everything we know about creating a social media strategy in our free email course Social by Seven.

After a few months of regularly broadcasting live, we’ve realized a thing or two about what matters most – AND what you really shouldn’t let bother you.

So, what have we learned from our own Facebook live experiences, and how can it make yours feel a lot more meaningful?

Let’s take a look!

Pay attention to the stats that matter (and read the fine print)

When you go to the “Videos” section of your Facebook Insights, you can find all kinds of interesting-looking details about how your different videos have performed.

Unfortunately, some of them might not matter all that much.

On the one hand, the importance of certain statistics depends on what you personally care about the most. And it’s okay for what you care about to be different from what other people care about!

On the other hand, though, some of the statistics that Facebook offers regarding video performance have a lot of fine print you shouldn’t ignore.

Here’s an example.

One way that Facebook allows you to sort your videos is by “Minutes viewed” – a statistic that might sound more useful than it actually is.

That’s because when Facebook is calculating your minutes viewed, it includes views that were under three seconds long:

Screenshot of Facebook's fine print

As you’ve probably noticed, videos in your Facebook News Feed play automatically. Nobody necessarily has to try to watch your video – so Facebook may have counted the viewing time of people who just weren’t scrolling quickly enough to miss it.

Clicking on that video above for more information reveals just how tricky that statistic can be:

Screencap of FB Live video stats

While audiences may have watched this video for a cumulative total of almost 19k minutes, the average viewer lasted about 11 seconds.

Now, remember what we said about how Facebook plays videos in the News Feed automatically?

Take a look:

Statistic showing % of auto-plays

You can see that the vast majority of viewers were people for whom the video played automatically – and without very clear viewer intent, it’s hard to gauge exactly how valuable this retention information actually is.

Fortunately, you can toggle your statistics to see how people who clicked to play compare with people who became “viewers” automatically:

Gif showing difference between autoplay and click-to-play stats

Of course, these statistics might not matter to you as much as others – and that’s okay!

For example, we use Facebook live broadcasts as an opportunity to summarize and promote our blog posts, so each video description includes a link to the post being discussed.

Because our broadcasts are partially a traffic-driving effort, we want to pay close attention to the statistics not just for the video itself, but for the Facebook post containing the video, too.

Facebook shows you all of your audience’s interactions with a video post, including shares, reactions, link clicks, and more:

FB Video Post Statistics

Depending on your goals for a live broadcast, these stats could be just as valuable as those related to viewing habits – or more so!

Ultimately, your mileage may vary a LOT when it comes to deciding which statistics are the most important.

(So don’t get mired in details just because Facebook gives them to you!)

Forget about your live views (sort of)

How embarrassing would it be to put all this trouble into a live broadcast, and then nobody watches it, right?

Good news: it doesn’t matter!

No, seriously.

Facebook live is great and all, but the “live” part isn’t actually the most important.

Even if nobody really watches your broadcast while it’s live, it can still be a huge success!

For example, let’s take a look at one of ours from Q1 of 2018. In three months, this is the video that got the most overall views (a stat that includes only people who watched three seconds or more).

We blurred out everything but the two most important stats you should look at right now:

FB live video viewer stats

At no point during this live broadcast did we have more than 13 viewers at once, but over the course of three months, the replay racked up more than 38k views!

(In fact, on average in Q1, our peak number of live viewers on our broadcasts was only about .16% of our total audience.)

Not many of your broadcast’s viewers will actually watch while you’re live – so don’t worry about nobody showing up!

That in mind, don’t treat your live broadcast like it isn’t valuable just because it’s over. We’ve written about promoting broadcast replays before in this post, but here’s an example of what it looks like when you do compared to when you don’t:

Timeline of promo for FB live video

After this broadcast ended, we spent a few weeks promoting it in different places, like emails, blog posts, and updates on other social networks. (We also paid for a short boost to get the ball rolling on Facebook.)

While we were actively promoting the replay, it scored thousands of views per day, even weeks after the original broadcast, and it racked up dozens of shares from the people who saw it!

Because the video addressed a particularly timely issue, though, we stopped promoting it after a few weeks – and as you can see, the number of views per day flatlined.

You can do a lot to lengthen the lifespan of your Facebook live replay – but if you ignore it, it might not go too far on its own.

Don’t worry so much about how many people watch while you’re live – and make sure that you’re making it easy for people to find your replay afterward!

And speaking of replays…

Caption your Facebook live replay videos

Because so many viewers tend to catch a live broadcast after it ends, you have the advantage of making your replay as easy to watch as possible – so don’t waste the opportunity!

On average, 85% of all Facebook video is watched on mute, so if yours can’t be understood without sound, you could miss out on an enormous potential audience.

This guide will walk you through the process of quickly and easily adding captions to your Facebook live broadcasts after they end, but if you’re still not sold on how important it is, just take a look at our stats!

On average, only about 21% of the people who watched 10 seconds or more of our broadcasts watched with sound.

For some of our replays, as little as 8% of the audience had their sound on!

Stats showing percentage of video views with sound

In theory, one could argue that so many people only watched with the sound off because we add captions, and that without the option of watching on mute, they would have watched with sound instead of choosing not to watch at all.

Given what we know about Facebook users in general, though – particularly, that they overwhelmingly prefer to watch video without sound – it’s far likelier that neglecting captions would only make our overall audience shrink.

(Plus, adding captions only increases your overall accessibility. Not everyone has the option of listening to your videos!)

Captioning your live broadcast replay videos is better for both you and your audience.

Sure, it might be a little tedious, but it’s always worth the effort – so don’t skip this step!

What have YOU learned from going live?

Do our experiences line up with your own?

Do they make you feel more (or less) likely to give Facebook live a try?

Let us know what you think in the comments!

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What We Learned from Three Months of Facebook Live (and How You Can Get the Most Out of It)

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