Facebook Live Flexes its Political Prowess

10.27.16 / Matt Owings / Social Media

The 2016 presidential election is less than two weeks away. Let that amazing news sink in for just a moment.

Saying the American public is suffering from political oversaturation may be an understatement at this point. Whether you’re a deplorable, or a nasty woman (or man), the rhetoric and storylines voters have been subjected to is about to come to an end.

But, before the electoral votes are counted, and a victor is crowned, it’s important to take stock of what we learned along the way. And while it may not feel like it from the general public’s perspective, as a marketer, there were plenty of winners to speak of. Socially, it’s been Facebook Live standing out among the rest.

Facebook’s broadcast tool’s ability to air an event happening in real time without a middleman has proved more than important in the current state of news reporting. Unfortunately for my friends in the journalism industry, a growing distrust in the media as a whole has created a chasm between the voting public and the two (or even four) candidates aiming to represent them.

Thanks to Facebook Live, that conversation comes directly to you.

A useful vehicle for the message of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, without those pesky reporters and their “bias,” Live has been employed during rallies, announcements, and stump speeches. It’s no secret that both candidates have taken advantage.

The GOP front man’s campaign went as far as producing “Trump Tower Live,” a newscast-like program on Facebook Live, where surrogates circumvent traditional brands like CNN, MSNBC or Fox News and speak directly to viewers – 1.5 million and counting to be exact. Though the Oct. 24 premiere episode didn’t feature a smooth introduction, it paved the way for what could be nightly installments of direct access to the Trump campaign over the next two weeks.

“This is just an effort by us to reach out [and] give you the message straight from the campaign,” Trump campaign worker Cliff Sims – acting as a news anchor of sorts – said during the broadcast. “You don’t take it through the media filter and all the spin that they put on it. You can hear it from us directly.”

That last bit is important. Sims wants his viewers to know that the Trump team is eager to speak directly to its constituents in real time. Facebook Live has allowed for that to happen better than ever before.

There’s also the less serious side to Facebook Live’s emergence as a political instrument, and it caters most to those who are ready to turn the channel from the nightly political discourse.

During the final presidential debate, rather than broadcast political talking heads breaking down every word the two candidates made, Buzzfeed’s culinary arm, Tasty, took a different approach. “Take A Break From The Debate: Watch This Giant Cookie Slowly Bake,” read the post, a live broadcast lasting the length of the debate that featured a mammoth mound of cookie dough slowly baking away in an oven.

Seriously, that’s all it was.

The result? A cool 15 million views, 330,000 reactions and a whopping 67,735 shares (as of Oct. 25).

Not to be outdone, the outlet also produced a broadcast of M&M’s art spelling out the word “Breathe.” That garnered a respectable 3.4 million views and 23,000 reactions. Not bad.

Buzzfeed wasn’t the only outlet taking advantage of social media users’ frustration with the election. U.S. News and World Report broadcasted an adorable corgi named Buddy laying on the floor while his owner watched the two candidates spar in Las Vegas.

While trends will shift away from the political conversation in the coming weeks, marketers have seen how effective Facebook Live can be at pushing content. MGH saw that firsthand, when a recent Facebook Live video of an Ocean City sunrise netted the client more than 245,000 views.

For now, we should all be logging onto our second screens come Nov. 8, as election night could be another opportunity for similar Live stunts.

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