And their motives are not exactly subtle. Part tutorial and part showcase, they feature step-by-step instructions on how to use Facebook Live as well as examples of the types of experiences the company considers worth airing.
The vignette-like video ads are culled from real user footage of costumed dogs, aspiring young country singers and weekend beach getaways. (A hilarious testimony from a man stuck on a roof is clearly the most popular, according to Ispot.tv data.)
While Facebook’s live video feature is popular among journalists, celebrities, brand advertisers and other users that have a clear business stake in it, the company recognizes that a huge portion of its 1.5-billion-strong user base might still not be aware of the tool or how to use it.
Attracting the average consumer
But the success of the technology will ultimately rest to some extent on its usefulness to the average consumer, according to Forrester analyst Nick Barber, whose research covers the live video sector.
“The whole idea around going live is having this concurrent experience,” Barber said. “There’s this idea of trying to democratize live video.”
To that end, however, Facebook Live’s preferred status among brands and influential personalities could actually work against it.
“The problem is that when you look at a lot of brands or celebrities that are doing live video, oftentimes, they’re very well-produced,” Barber said.
“Unless you have some sense of how to put together a video or how to tell a story or speak about an experience or operate a camera, there’s going to be something left to be desired about the live videos that everyday users are producing.”
The intimidation factor
That intimidation factor is likely why Facebook’s campaign puts so much emphasis on raw, candid footage and clear-cut instructions. The social network wants to underscore that live videos don’t necessarily have to be polished productions or grand occasions.
To make the process easier, Facebook also added a dedicated homepage tab for live video this week and has for a time now notified users whenever any of their friends engaged in a live session.
But the transition from media darling to service of the people has proved a stumbling block for at least one of Facebook’s competitors in the space. The failure of Meerkat, an early purveyor of the technology, was largely attributed to its failure to find the right audience.
Meerkat co-founder Ben Rubin, who’s since pivoted his focus to a live video chat app, told Zibivi during a recent interview that he believes the demand for this sort of activity just isn’t there for everyday consumers.
“It is pretty clear that there is a problem with live right now,” he said. “The reason is because it’s mostly about novelty. It’s easy to mistake if it’s actually a viable product used by millions of users every day.”
Scale is key
But if any platform has the massive scale to push consumer attitudes, it’s Facebook, and Barber, for one, isn’t counting out the possibility it can catch on with a wider audience.
“We know specifically millennials value the idea of a shared experience and live is one way to get people to experience the same thing together,” Barber said.
In any case, the campaign seems to be a hit among TV viewers. Ispot.tv reports the commercials have an average completed view rate of around 95 percent — much higher than that of most ads.
Whether or not that has translated into an uptick in Facebook streamers still remains to be seen.