Using Facebook Live for better TV

Severe weather is a major driver of audience interest for local TV stations and Facebook Live has become an important tool for getting more information to more people.

Kelsey Jacobson is the digital content director for WMC Action News 5 in Memphis, Tennessee. She sees big advantages to using Facebook Live.

“Facebook weights Live in the algorithm and people love it. They want to be the first to know right now,” Jacobson said.

Of course, local TV stations have been able to go live for decades, but Jacobson says the value of Facebook Live for stations is in the audience engagement and the exponential reach. Facebook Live is “an interactive live shot,” which allows reporters to talk directly to the audience and, Jacobson says, the tool is an audience builder.

“It brings more likes, and when it’s crucial content, we benefit because more people will see it. We could gain 1,000 likes from one successful stream.”

In the aftermath of a significant storm in Memphis this week, WMC used Facebook Live repeatedly to cover the government and local services response. Reporter Chris Luther’s live stream on the effort to restore power resulted in 183 comments, 44 shares and more than 12,000 views.

To get the best results from your live streams, Jacobson recommends the following:

  • Promote your plans for live streaming ahead of time.
  • When you are about to launch your live stream, understand that the subject line or title of the stream is important. “Tell me the coolest thing in the title, find the hook that will draw me in,” Jacobson suggests.
  • Begin by identifying yourself and setting the scene for the viewer by explaining why you are live. Don’t be afraid to rehash what’s been happening several times as people are joining and dropping off throughout most live streams.
  • Go¬†at least 10 minutes to maximize the potential viewing audience. That’s a long time to be live, so feel free to grab someone for a Q&A or do a demonstration, if that makes sense for the situation.

There remains a question as to whether success on Facebook leads to more success on the air, but Jacobson is optimistic.

“When posts go viral, it builds your fan base and that can help you get the message to more people to turn on that TV.”