In the last two weeks of the election, Donald Trump took to Facebook Live daily to present Trump TV. And while many pundits saw this as a prelude to Trump launching his own television network after he lost the election, the reality was that it likely played a big role in his eventual victory. In those last two weeks, while Trump pumped out 33 live broadcasts to millions of people on the platform, Hillary Clinton used Facebook Live for only 11 broadcasts.
In the four days before the election, Trump used Facebook Live 21 times, amassing 45 million views, and sending people who Liked his page 21 separate notifications (perhaps serving as a reminding to get out and vote). Hillary, on the other hand, went live on Facebook only 3 times in the same period, effecting 14% as many reminder notifications. Her videos also nly garnered 14 million views.
Facebook Live notifications are not just about informing page fans that there's a broadcast happening, they tell the fans that the candidate is once again coming before the public in an unfiltered, interactive forum. It tells the candidate's supporters - not just the Page fans, but the friends of those fans - that the candidate is accessible, which, in turn, can increase voter trust in that candidate. It also enhances the sense that the candidate is authentic, while, importantly, lessening the sense that the candidate is an elitist.
Hillary Clinton wasted a natural advantage over Donald Trump for distributing Facebook Live videos because she has a large number of subsidiary, state and constituency facing Pages that could have greatly expanded her reach. Using a tool like Shindig.com (which is the platform I use to broadcast my own weekly webshow), she could have simulcast her live broadcasts to all of them. Not only did she not take advantage of all the other Facebook Pages under her control, she also failed to enlist the Facebook support of Barack and Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, who together have a collective 75.5 million Facebook fans. And more importantly, unlike Trump, Hillary had a huge bevy of social media giants (Beyonce, Jay-Z, Lebron James, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, to name a few) who might have supported her and the DNC by putting a get out the vote stream through their pages.
Illustrating the paradigm of "Facebook casting" the day before the election, 'Rock the Vote' held a first of its kind interactive Online Voting Rights Rally. The rally, which enabled participants to video chat questions with NAACP President Cornell Brooks and others, was streamed to 10 different Facebook pages (including Eminem's) and amassed over 1 million views in the hours before election. Had Clinton taken advantage of simulcasting her Cleveland concert over the Pages of the performers at the concert, she would have had a potential reach of 135.5 million people.
As for content, while Clinton used Facebook Live primarily to webcast her rallies and commercials during the bulk of her campaign, Trump was using it for a nightly news style broadcast that was intentionally designed for broadcast over Facebook Live. This made his webcasts fundamentally more engaging.
Back in July, the Clinton campaign used Facebook Live to webcast what seemed like an innovative video at the time - a 4-hour stream listing off the 5,500 lawsuits involving Trump. But the video was so long that no viewer could really get a sense of the magnitude in the typical time they would devote to watching it and there only ended up being around 600,000 viewers (compared to the 1.5 million-plus viewers that typically watched the Trump TV daily streams). So while the lawsuit video generated some earned media, it was too early in the campaign, and too little in its reach, to matter much in the end.
The bottom line is that the Clinton campaign vastly underperformed the Trump campaign in its use of Facebook Live, leaving more than 100 million potential viewers and repeated engagements via notification on the table. Given the sense among the Democratic base that the Clinton campaign didn't do enough to effectively engage and invigorate them, this Facebook gap takes on great significance.
Social media engagement is a powerful supplement and complement to face-to-face candidate-to-voter engagement, and clearly, the Clinton campaign needed more of that in the formerly Democratic stronghold states of the industrial Midwest.