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Facebook Now Ranks Live Videos Higher in the News Feed (Plus A Quick Guide on How to Use Facebook Live Video)

Mar 2, 2016 5 min readNews and Trends
Photo of Ash Read
Ash Read

Head of Content at Buffer

The Facebook News Feed is designed to deliver the best, most relevant content from the people and Pages you’re closest to. Even if that content was posted a few hours ago.

That approach isn’t a great fit with Live video, though. It doesn’t matter if a video was broadcast live if you missed it and had to catch a replay.

To counter this Facebook have made some updates to the way the News Feed works when it comes to displaying Live video content.

Facebook wants to draw attention to Live video broadcasts in-the-moment, and the data appears to show that Live content will keep users attention for longer. In a blog post, Facebook shared that people spend more than 3x more time watching a Facebook Live video on average compared to other video content.

In this post, we’ll  dive into how Facebook Live video works and also take a look at what this means for the Facebook News Feed.

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What is Facebook Live video?

Live video lets you share what you’re seeing in real time — whether you’re visiting a new place, cooking your favorite recipe, or just want to share some thoughts. No matter where you are, Live lets you bring your friends, family, and followers, right next to you to experience what’s happening together.

Facebook launched Live for celebrities in August 2015 and gradually started rolling it out to influencers with Verified profiles before eventually opening it up to all iOS users in January 2016. Android support followed in February.

How to use Live


To share live video, tap on Update Status and then select the Live Video icon. If you’d like, you can write a quick description and choose the audience that you want to share with before going live.

Rather than notify all your friends or fans when you broadcast, Facebook will only send a push notification to close friends, people who recently interacted with your Page, or those who have subscribed to your Live videos.

During your broadcast, you’ll see the number of viewers, the names of friends who are tuning in and a real-time stream of comments.

Broadcasts can be no longer than 30 minutes, and when you end your broadcast, it will be saved on your Timeline like any other video.

Mark Zuckerburg has been using a big advocate of Live and sees it as “a way for people to have a more authentic and intimate experience sharing about their lives.”

How will this affect the News Feed?

The Facebook News Feed is constantly evolving as Facebook discover what signals help them show the most relevant content to each user.

When people first started watching and sharing video, Facebook listened to user feedback to discover what signals they should follow in order to show people more of the videos they want to see and fewer of the videos they don’t.

At first, they updated News Feed ranking to take into account how many people watched a video and how long people watched for.

Over time, Facebook learned that certain actions people take on a video, such as choosing to turn on sound or making the video full screen, are good signs they wanted to see that video, even if they didn’t decide to like it.

Since the Live feature has been rolled out to more users, Facebook Live video has become increasingly popular and more and more people, and Pages are creating and watching videos in real-time.

With Live’s popularity in mind, Facebook has decided to start treating Live video differently within the News Feed, as explained in recent blog post:

Now that more and more people are watching Live videos, we are considering Live Videos as a new content type – different from normal videos – and learning how to rank them for people in News Feed. As a first step, we are making a small update to News Feed so that Facebook Live videos are more likely to appear higher in News Feed when those videos are actually live, compared to after they are no longer live.

This News Feed update should mean people are more likely to see Facebook Live streams while they’re still in-progress. This provides a much more engaging experience as viewers can comment and interact with the broadcaster in-the-moment.

For an always up-to-date list of News Feed factors and changes, check out our Facebook News Feed post.

3 quick-fire Live video best practices

1. Build anticipation

Letting your fans and followers know when you’ll be going Live is a great way to build interest and excitement ahead of your broadcast.


2. Write a compelling headline before you start broadcasting

A compelling headline can go a long way to convincing people to tune into your broadcast. The below example from Mark Zuckerberg is a great one. Asking fans to comment to ask a question gives a clear CTA and a reason to tune in:


3. Ask viewers to subscribe

At some point in your broadcast, draw users attention to the subscribe button in the right-hand corner of your video. If someone taps this, they will be notified when you kick-off any broadcasts in the future.


Over to you

Live video is an incredible opportunity to connect with your audience. And with its prioritization in the News Feed, it could be a great medium to break through the noise and grab attention.

Live video is currently available to individuals and selected Pages, with it being rolled out to everyone soon.

Now could be a great time to start thinking about how you can get the most out of Facebook Live. maybe taking fans backstage at your company and showing them behind the scenes, a weekly Q&A session or even product demos to accompany launches.

A few possibilities for Live video content could be taking fans backstage at your company and showing them behind the scenes; weekly Q&A sessions or even product demos to accompany launches.

Have you used Facebook Live video at all? Are you excited to see more real-time content on Facebook? How do you feel business could use Facebook Live video? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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