Facebook Live was one of the first livestreaming services to really make a bid for businesses with plenty of statistics and customization options. But today Sarah, Ashley, and Aleks are discussing whether Live is…well, alive anymore. Do businesses still need to consider Facebook Live? Has it been supplanted by other options? Let’s find out!

If You Haven’t Noticed, Facebook Live Notifications are Missing These Days

Back in 2016, when Facebook Live first appeared, you may have noticed a lot of new notifications for Facebook Live events – marketers certainly did, as brands began experimenting with the service. But when was the last time you can remember getting a notification for a Facebook Live event? If you’re like us, it’s been a surprisingly long time, as if people have simply stopped using the service.

True, Facebook now has an option to turn off notifications for Live events, but it’s not usually turned off automatically. So, does this really indicate that brand-based Facebook events aren’t happening? It’s time to dig deeper.

Facebook Subsidies and Feed Changes Could Have Tanked the Live Service

There are two interesting decisions by Facebook that could be causing Live to lose steam. First, as this 2018 report discusses, Facebook ended guaranteed payments for the service, essentially subsidies for many different partners that were paid to make videos for Facebook Live as a way to promote both the service and themselves. Those payments ended in 2017, and the researched showed that the brands…simply stopped producing Live content. Between April 2016 and March 2017, the average number of Live videos published by around 20 major brands was 1,041. In the latter half of 2017, that number dropped by half to 508, and some brands stopped producing almost any live videos.

However, Facebook also made a second change around this time, and altered the way its algorithm functioned. The new algorithm worked to prioritize content from family and friends on the News Feed. This was definitely a user-friendly change, but it did make it harder for brands to get their content seen on Facebook. It’s not exactly surprising that brands pulled away from Facebook activities as a result, right?

Poor Press Was Also a Factor

Being the first mover in a market entails a number of risks. Facebook Live may have also lost popularity due to well, the “crap happens” rule. The Live service gained notoriety from a number of people who literally livestreamed murders, assaults, suicides, rapes, and other acts. You may remember some of those headlines – and you can imagine how that affected Live’s popularity among businesses. While people discussed whether or not to blame Facebook for the issue, brands appeared to have quietly pulled away from the service.

Ultimately Stories are the Favored Option Right Now

A final point about Facebook Live and related content: We also need to look at the competition. Of course Live has always had some competition from YouTube’s livestreaming and other services, but in the past couple of years more unique challenges have risen: The “Story” mode appeared on both Facebook and Instagram. Stories allowed brands to stitch together photos and video, as they happened, to tell their own stories and showcase events for a limited time. Particularly on Instagram, Stories became a popular choice for brands to share what was happening in a unique way, and many businesses found they preferred the flexible Stories approach to livestreaming. Audiences generally found Stories easier to access and relate to, and they started showing encouraging signs of engagement. Businesses meanwhile, didn’t need to take as much time preparing for and working on Stories as they did when livestreaming.

This doesn’t mean you can’t use or continue to use Facebook Live – indeed, as fewer businesses use Live, it becomes easier to stand out on the service – but the ROI seems to be favoring Story options right now, if you are making a decision about how to get your content out there.

We’d love to hear from you: Do you use Facebook Live? Have you considered it? What about the various Stories options? Let us know or ask a question on social media @21handshake. If you loved this episode, take a moment to rate us 5 stars on iTunes and share it with a friend! Until next time.