Since Facebook made its livestreaming feature widely available earlier this year, publishers have been experimenting with on-the-spot video in a variety of ways.
Although some media organisations are benefiting from a partnership with the social network, others are still enticed to try their hand at Facebook Live by the increased reach the feature can provide.
To explore how publishers are using this format, we are publishing a series of in-depth articles chronicling their experiments, from the training journalists need before getting started, to the technology required to pull off a good quality stream. This is the second instalment in the series – check out the first one about the use of Facebook Live at International Business Times.
In the United States, much of the current conversations and social media buzz have revolved around two prominent political events in the election cycle: the Republican National Convention (RNC), which took place between 18 and 21 July in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Democratic National Convention (DNC), which kicked off on 25 July and is set to conclude on 28 July in Philadelphia.
Every major event we've had since Facebook Live launched, we've tried to use it in some form or fashionDan Linden, ABC News
Some news organisations, such as CBS and ABC News, have partnered with platforms – Twitter and Facebook respectively – to livestream the conventions and provide rolling coverage of the two events.
Last week, Variety reported ABC News was planning to deliver "24-hour live coverage" of the conventions on Facebook, incorporating live video of on-the-scene interviews, protests and other key events.
"This is one of the most talked about and critical election cycles we've had in a long time, if ever, so we wanted to make sure we were hitting the right audience," said Dan Linden, global head of social media for ABC News.
"ABC News has a broadcast platform and digital properties, but we wanted to reach and engage a younger demographic, a different audience on a platform where conversations are already happening."
He said ABC News broke down its convention coverage into streams from the convention floor and sit-downs with delegates, but also key moments happening outside the venue, such as broadcasting a Facebook Live video from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland.
"We went there for a live stream because they were doing some programming tied to the RNC – and it's also an interesting place to visit, something the Facebook audience might actually really like.
"So it's not just all strictly convention coverage. It's all related, but not necessarily just a political talking head."
For the RNC last week, ABC News broadcast more than 50 Facebook Lives over the course of four days across multiple pages, including the main ABC News page, ABC News Politics, and ABC This Week, summed up into some 35 hours worth of coverage that had gathered over 11.5 million views when the figures were last analysed on 22 July.
While the outlet promoted its live coverage on Twitter, the audience for its Facebook Live videos mainly came to the streams after these appeared in their news feeds and after being sent the live notification from Facebook.
Going into the second round of rolling livestreaming coverage for DNC, Linden said one of the key learnings so far has been the importance of experimenting with shorter blocks of coverage, "breaking them up into two hours instead of four hours".
He explained the convention is typically in full swing around 8pm every night, when key speakers start taking to the stage.
Then at 10pm, "when the networks are doing coverage for TV", the high interest figures begin their speeches, as was the case on Monday evening with Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
"So we broke our stream up in two to try and capitalise on those heavy hitter speakers from 10pm.
"We did an 8-10pm stream and then a fresh one calling out Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders, so people interested in hearing them speak would know right away in their feed what was going to happen and hopefully they would tune in.
"This is something we started doing towards the end of last week and we brought into the DNC coverage as well, focusing on those key speakers to try and drive interest and going live as they're hitting the stage."
Between 40 and 50 people are working on ABC News' livestreaming coverage, Linden said. This includes staff tasked with mining Facebook during the day to provide answers in real time to questions from the audience, as well as the live desk, social media team, reporters and producers.
While the challenges of livestreaming to Facebook have revolved mostly around connectivity, one of ABC News' best-performing live streams from the RNC was an episode of its Strait Talk show, broadcast from a barber shop in Cleveland, with 1.3 million views.
Outside of its coverage of the conventions, ABC News was one of the early adopters of Facebook Live, using it to "take people behind the scenes and show them what they might not see otherwise".
This included a lengthy Facebook Live Q&A with a local doctor in Brazil when the Zika virus became a major issue in the news, but also coverage of the Orlando shootings and of Muhammad Ali's funeral procession.
On 14 July, ABC News unveiled a suite of revamped mobile apps and a redesigned homepage, all supporting up to eight simultaneous live streams and video autoplay, to underline the organisation's commitment to being video-centric.
"Every major event we've had since Facebook Live launched, we've tried to use it in some form or fashion.
"It's not our broadcast special report that we put on Facebook every night, it's a different product and while it may not be as refined as our network coverage, the goal we've tried to meet is is showing people things they may not see otherwise."
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