Streaming live events is not necessarily a new idea for transportation agencies. But one state DOT has found that leveraging live streaming capabilities within Facebook can generate huge results.
The Washington State Department of Transportation was one of the first state DOTs to experiment with Periscope, a live streaming service owned by Twitter. The 2015 State DOT Social Media Survey found that about 10 percent of DOTs in 2015 were using either Periscope, or the similar Meerkat, streaming media service.
Streaming media proved so popular that YouTube, Facebook and other social media offered similar capabilities.
It is hardly a surprise that WSDOT and others migrated their live streaming to Facebook and its 1.13 billion daily active users. The response to WSDOT’s efforts so far has been tremendous.
According to Kris Rietmann, WSDOT’s deputy communication director, “WSDOT has done quite a few Facebook Live videos since the new feature started a few months ago … The feedback that we have received thus far is great and people really enjoy them!”
She pointed me to an example of a live video shot Aug. 9 that featured a WSDOT communication team member explaining how traffic will shift through the principle east-west mountain pass thanks to the opening of a new avalanche bridge, and why.
Rietmann said that 85 people watched the live feed. That might not seem like a huge amount. But remember, this is Facebook and the live feed becomes a hosted video embedded in the WSDOT Facebook account. Since it was posted, that I-90 avalanche bridge opening has garnered more than 36,000 views and nearly 680 reactions. The video also was shared 240 times and collected 15 comments.
A July 2016 live stream discussing traffic disruptions south of Seattle during a busy summer weekend had 46 peak live viewers. But, again, since then it has generated more than 19,000 views, 82 reactions, 31 shares and 35 comments.
As with any emerging communication tool, WSDOT has learned a few things and recently shared those tips with other state DOTs (Read the full list of tips here: wsdot-facebook-live-tips).
Some of the suggestions are basic, but often overlooked, first steps: Have a plan, make sure what you’re talking about should actually belong on Facebook.
But other suggestions are specific to the Facebook live tool. For instance, turn off the ringer of your mobile phone; shoot video holding the phone vertically, not horizontally; and, always speak louder than you think you should because the phone microphones are going to pick up a lot of ambient sound.
Perhaps most importantly, WSDOT offers great suggestions for continuing the conversation.
“Stay engaged on the Facebook post as questions/comments continue to roll in after the broadcast is over.”
Perhaps that is the best advice of all. Stay engaged.