The power of Chewbacca Mom: Why Facebook Live is one more nail in the coffin for traditional media

It’s still early days for Facebook Live, but with the weight of Facebook behind it and the buzz being positive so far, are we seeing yet one more nail in the coffin of traditional media?

Facebook Live is a live video streaming function within the Facebook app. It was launched about a year ago, rolled out firstly to select users such as celebrities. Facebook’s prime competition in this space is Twitter’s Periscope but Facebook has a massive advantage in terms of its sheer number of users, which means Twitter will have to think strategically about how it positions its offering – cue Twitter’s increasing focus on things like live sports streaming.

Among those who must be worried by Facebook making such a concerted play in the live video space would be the traditional TV networks, which have followed a strategy of differentiation that has emphasised the “live” nature of many of their broadcasts. This has been necessary because of the amount of market share traditional TV has and is losing to streaming services such as Netflix, as well as other downloading services.

But now the technology and reach of broadband penetration has reached a point of scale that makes live video streaming cheap and easy to produce and consume, TV networks will be looking over their shoulders as another one of their bastions come under attack from the internet giants like Facebook – as well as Google via YouTube, whose live streaming offering has been referred to as a “sleeping giant”.

A year on from its soft celebrity launch, Facebook announced some new features as part of Live that are aimed at broadening the scope of the function, and encouraging regular, everyday, non-celebrity types to use Live. These new features include:

  • Going live in Facebook Groups and Events
  • Interactive features such as comments and live emojis
  • Live video destination and Live map, which lets users know where live videos are happening

According to Facebook, users are 10 times more likely to comment on a live video than a pre-recorded one, which hints at the remarkable engagement and interactivity live video will bring in all categories, from personal through to commercial forums.

These new features were announced in early April and it didn’t take long for one of Facebook’s 1.65 billion monthly active users to make her presence known in a very big way.

Chewbacca Mom shows the power of live video

The insane impact of a video such as Chewbacca Mom, which burned up the internet recently in a viral fever, provides a stunning testament to the staggering numbers available through Facebook.

In case you somehow missed it, the video features Texan mum Candace Payne in her car opening a new toy, a talking Chewbacca mask. Payne decided to unbox and try out the electronic talking mask and broadcast herself on Facebook Live. About 141 million views later, Payne has become famous for her hearty, down-to-earth laugh, and that Chewbacca mask has been flying out the doors of retailers across the US. The video itself has become the most popular video in the short history of Facebook Live.

I’ve made the point before here that it would be great if we could all make viral videos at the drop of a hat (or the donning of a mask) but that’s just not realistic, and it shouldn’t be the main game anyway for businesses that want to engage with their customers through video. Engage with your customers/audience first and good things will happen.

What businesses should take from the Chewbacca Mom episode is the ease with which you can share videos on Facebook through forums such as Groups and Events, and that you can reach and engage at a deep level with your customers by doing this.

That’s also one more reason for traditional TV and media to worry about the impact of Facebook Live.

If you haven’t seen the video, here it is.

Fi Bendall is CEO of The Bendalls Group, a business that leads STRATEGY : ADVOCACY : MOBILE delivering the business acumen to drive effective positive results in a disruptive economy for the C-suite. Fi has recently won a Westpac/AFR 2015 100 Women of Influence award. 


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