With the power to reach potentially billions of users around the world, Facebook is the premier social media platform. And things got even more interesting on the Facebook content front last year with the introduction of Facebook Live, a live-streaming video tool which enables users to provide immediate, live video feeds direct from their mobile device - anywhere, any time.
The implications for businesses can't be overstated - Facebook Live offers a whole new method of engaging prospects and leads, and converting them into long-term customers.
For marketers still trying to get their sea legs where Facebook Live is concerned, here are four ideas on how to use Facebook Live within your marketing strategy.
1. Launch New Products and Services
Product launches are one of the most effective ways for businesses to implement branding - the reason being that a new product or service isn't just about the tangible benefit that a consumer will receive from your company, it's also about how you convey your values and reason for existence to the public.
So how can you use Facebook Live to launch a product?
The best way is to create anticipation and excitement for the launch by sending out invitations to your subscriber list, as well as posting invitations on your company's Facebook Page and urging followers to share the launch date with their friends and family.
Then, by live-streaming the product launch on Facebook Live, you can take advantage of consumer engagement by offering demos of the product, and even provide giveaways of the product by having users who are watching the stream answer trivia questions or perform some other task to qualify for the freebie.
Toy maker Hasbro has used these options in their various Facebook Live videos to promote Monopoly, offering fans prizes and exclusives for their engagement.
There are likely creative ways you can use similar methods in your own process.
2. Offer Q & A Sessions
With Facebook Live you can engage consumers by offering them free advice or providing knowledge and information that adds value.
What's considered "value" in content terms?
In simple terms, content that answers this key question: "What is in it for me?"
If you can answer that question in a live Q and A format on Facebook Live, you can create credibility and authority in the minds of prospects.
Liz Melville, a business coach and marketing expert, conducts regular Q & A sessions to engage her existing customers and followers and to attract new prospects.
Because she has a Facebook Page dedicated to her business, it's easy for her to promote her Facebook Live sessions for maximum exposure.
But in addition to answering questions from consumers, Melville does something very important, which is to gently remind her viewers that she's available for a consultation as a professional business coach and marketer.
This acts as the live version of a CTA (call-to-action), encouraging viewers to go deeper with one-on-one sessions and services that she offers.
But that call to action won't work unless Melville's free Q & A sessions are providing real value to her viewers.
So the takeaway here is that your Q & A sessions must provide specific advice, information and tips that give your Facebook Live viewers confidence in the products and services you offer.
3. Give Customers a Peek Behind the Scenes
People love getting a look at the inner workings of a company, because it gives them insight into the company's culture, values and employees.
That's why using Facebook Live to take consumers "backstage" can be such an effective means of demystifying your business process, giving viewers the chance to connect more personally with your brand.
In this example, Fox network used Facebook Live to take prospective viewers backstage and behind the scenes during the premiere of their "Grease: Live" musical.
By launching the behind the scenes live stream during the premiere of the musical, Fox enhanced the viewing experience for its audience, but the network also added a kicker.
Viewers in select markets could also stream the musical live on Fox.com and Fox Now, which meant that the content (the musical) could now be viewed by people who couldn't watch on their TV sets at home, but could view it live on mobile devices.
Whenever you are taking viewers behind the scenes, make sure you add a kicker the same way that Fox did so well.
For example, a comic book company could take viewers behind the scenes and show an artist drawing panels for an upcoming issue.
But instead of just stopping at this live peek into the artist's creative process, the comic book company could also offer viewers the chance to sign up to receive signed copies of the same comic issue that the artist is drawing for a limited time.
By tying the behind the scenes live stream to a real offer of value, that company could convert prospects into buyers.
4. Webinars/Tip Sessions
A great many people are visual learners, meaning they better process information about how to perform new tasks by seeing them done, rather than by reading a manual or text.
Whether you own a software company or you're selling antique books, providing valuable information and insight into your industry increases engagement and helps you visually engage with your viewers on a continual basis.
Use Facebook Live to host webinars or to create informative videos that are actionable and easy for viewers to understand.
During these sessions, allow viewers to engage by posting comments and suggestions about what they're viewing.
With these types of information sessions, the marketer establishes authority and expertise that makes viewers feel comfortable about purchasing products and services.
Because the content answers that key question we referenced earlier that prospects always ask before they engage with products or services: "What's in it for me?"
By offering a taste of what's in it for prospects through valuable informational sessions, you increase the likelihood that they'll want more of what you're offering, AND that they'll be willing to pay for it.
Facebook Live offers a way for viewers to connect with a brand through methods such as behind the scenes live sessions, webinars, product launches that also include demos and Q & As that deepen consumers' understanding of your products and services.
This is another valuable tool in your marketing arsenal, one that you can't afford to ignore in the ever-competitive game of customer acquisition.