Facebook Live for the toy box or tool box?

From our Relevanza site:

While everyone wet their pants a few days ago over more LiveStream video on the Facebook, we have to ask: is the updated Facebook Live for the toy box or tool box?

In a major announcement April 6, heralded all over the tech world as some quantum leap forward in the digital spaces, Facebook said it will be rolling out over the next few weeks significant enhancements to its live steam video products, all a part of Facebook Live becoming more integrated into its mobile and desktop clients.

“Since launching Facebook Live last summer to public figures via our Mentions app and more recently to everyone in the US using our iOS and Android apps we’ve been surprised and delighted with how people are using live video to connect and interact with each other all over the world,” said FB in its announcement post. “That’s why today we’re excited to announce new features for Facebook Live to give you more ways to discover, share, and interact with live video, and more ways to personalize your live broadcasts.”

Okay, to follow the company line, here, very soon (after it rolls out to 1.5 billion FB users, which will take a while) we’ll all get to fulfill our Andy Warholean dreams of being famous, live, interactive broadcasters. A billion and a half Anderson Coopers let loose on the world. (Actually, only rarely does AC get to interact with viewers so we’ll be cooler than even AC.)

The enhanced Facebook Live will come with some pretty dazzling features, to be sure. It’s hard not to be left speechless (which would be unfortunate) by the technology which allows us to post from our smartphones live talking pictures while others talk back (or emoji back). Remember those dreams of the future in which we all talked to each other on televisions? Yea, welcome to the future.

But let’s review:

“People are letting their friends discover their hobbies,” Facebook said of uses already adapted to Live. “Parents are using it to share moments in their kids’ lives with their extended families. Athletes are giving people a window into their training. Chefs are bringing their fans into their kitchen. Journalists are hosting global conversations on topics they care about. Aspiring musicians can now put on a live concert for their friends.”

Yup, all very cool. But to what end?

Parents and children sharing moments from the kids’ lives (“Gooooaaaalllll”) with extended family members. That’s great and will cut down on otherwise tedious catch-up conversations at family reunions. (“Yea we know, Bobby. Little Terrance made a great shot on goal three months ago.”)

Athletes broadcasting training tips can be very useful. Who doesn’t want to pick up training tips from gifted athletes? (You mean, it’s helpful to swing my arms front to back as I run?”)

Watching a chef prepare a meal is always fascinating. Too bad the cable TV channels are so bare of that fare.

Journalists hosting global conversations, offering opinions in place of genuine reportage, always draws a big crowd — again, on cable TV channels — and frequently leads to further confusion while also reducing the necessity of critical thinking by viewers.

These examples are all intriguing and rife with potential. Aren’t they?

Can the athlete turn Facebook Live training tip videos into an entire retail business selling complete training guides? One would think so. Otherwise, why would the athlete waste her or his time?

Could a chef sell a cookbook? There’s a concept.

Could a journalist sell a book or entice Facebook viewers to watch or read more on a topic or evolving story (and thereby sell ads to keeps themselves employed)? Yea, we tend to get kinda sketchy on the point of journalists using digital (or print or broadcast) platforms for their own personal gain.

The point, here, is not the technology — which is uber cool and groovy — but how we use it.

Toy box or tool box?

We wrote earlier this week about the bright shiny object that is livestream video and argued, as marketeers, we need to figure ways to make it work better for the advancement of whatever online goals we are seeking to achieve.

And, yes, it has enormous potential if we thoughtfully and productively harness its immediacy for the benefit of our clients. It has enormous potential for businesses, large and small, and for organizations working toward the greater good.

But we need to be strategic, intricately linked to direct calls-to-action or other immediate benefits or engagement opportunities for any livestream effort, including Facebook Live, to really do its job and join the amazing digital tool box.

Okay, sure, it’s Facebook and that’s of course speaks volumes. Facebook, with its immense presence and global reach, really has become a very valuable digital marketing tool, especially over the last three years. It must be a significant part of any digital marketing strategy. But Facebook remains to a great extent a walled garden. A very large walled garden, to be sure, but a walled garden nonetheless.

It’s a mistake to focus solely on Facebook and ignore the vast array of other tools in the digital tool box.

Even though we (may) have entered into the golden age of digital media it has been mainstream for only a decade or so. We’re still in the infancy of digital media, really, and we’re still working out the kinks and figure out how best to use these tools.

Much of what we do in the digital spaces remains in a toy box. It’s our job as marketeers to turn those toys into tools.

The enhanced Facebook Live will mature and we can only hope it, too, will move sooner rather than later from the toy box to the tool box.

P.S. I could put this all into a Facebook Live video. But, frankly, that would be really boring and, therefore, much more about an ego gratifying toy than a productive tool.

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Originally published at www.relevanza.com on April 8, 2016.