A Lady, A Chewbacca Mask, Facebook Live and a Viral Video

Have you seen the hilarious video of Candace Payne and her Chewbacca mask? A week ago you wouldn’t have a clue what I was talking about. Now, I’m sure you do.

Late last week this video started appearing in my Facebook feed as it was being shared and liked by friends. After seeing it in a few posts I thought I’d better watch it to see what it was all about. And it was funny. In an unscripted, honest kind of way.

So Candace goes to Kohls and buys this Chewbacca mask as a birthday present to herself.

She then gets in her car and opens up Facebook. In the past she may have taken a picture of herself with the mask on or written a short post.

But this time she uses Facebook’s new ‘Live’ feature.

When you go to write a post on your mobile device, you now have an option to shoot live video and broadcast to all your friends (or followers if you have a business page).

So that’s what Candace did. She did a live broadcast that all her friends could see.

I’m not sure how many people actually watched her live broadcast (remember, only her friends could see it), but it appears that soon afterwards her friends started sharing the video – Liking it, Sharing it to their Facebook walls etc.

Soon, much like the miracle of compound interest, the video started being seen, and shared, by more and more people. It was no longer inside Candace’s circle of friends – it was going viral. As I’m writing this article, it’s currently sitting on 149m views.

I’m not sure of the exact timing, but the original Facebook video was posted on May 20th at 4.54am (that would be my time here in Australia). Her comment above was at 8.51am – four hours later.

Then it got better. Kohls – the recipient of all this free publicity – gets in in the act. They head over to Candace’s house and bring Chewbacca masks for her two kids so they don’t have to share hers. And they give her a few other bits and pieces.

So this in itself is great. Here’s a large retailer who is nimble enough to react quickly to a publicity windfall and who are smart enough to record it and post the video on their Facebook Page. Instant goodwill for Kohls and a massive increase in free publicity – last time I checked their video has been viewed over 32 million times with over 500,000 shares.

And it’s cost them nothing – this isn’t a paid ad. It’s a video on their Facebook Page.

Then it gets better again. She’s invited on to GMA.

And she decides to do another Facebook Live stream backstage. This time there’s a lot of people watching as she mentions the comments she’s receiving as she’s recording.

And then the next day she’s live again, this time she’s visiting Lucasfilms.

Of course, there’s a live video to go with that.

Then, she posts a video from Facebook’s HQ with the Facebook Live team.

These are the people that invented the Facebook Live system that propelled Candace to video fame. And again, she’s interacting with the people viewing her live stream, asking them to use the applause emoji to show their appreciation.

Why This Is Important For Facebook

Facebook Live is new, and this is the first viral video that’s exclusive to Facebook Live.

Up to now, videos would go viral with the help of social media, but most of those videos were from YouTube. So YouTube was able to monetise those videos and capture traffic. More traffic = more views = more advertising dollars = more profits for YouTube.

For a while Facebook has been encouraging users to upload video direct to Facebook rather than embedding it from YouTube. There are some suggestions that Facebook will give preference to video that’s uploaded to Facebook as opposed to video embedded from YouTube. I’ve seen arguments that both support this and debunk it – without having done any extensive testing the short answer is that I’m not sure whether this is the case or not.

And when I say ‘give preference’ what I mean is that if you have a business Page on Facebook (not a personal account), Facebook will only display your posts to a percentage of the people who Like your Page. The suggestion is that Facebook’s algorithm will show your Facebook Video to more of your followers than it would if it was a YouTube clip.

Facebook’s strategy is simple – they want more people to stay on Facebook for longer. The longer you stay on Facebook, the more money they can make through advertising.

So Facebook Live came along as one more plank in the overall strategy of keeping people on Facebook.

I started experimenting with it a couple of weeks ago with Advisor Marketing Club’s Facebook Page and I can see the potential. It’s live and raw – it’s not a polished video. And because it’s live, people can watch you. And interact with you while you’re recording. It’s like one big live Facetime call.

The other cool thing about Facebook Live is that you get a notification when someone starts broadcasting. If you’re on Facebook, this prompts you to watch. As a business, this is great because your followers won’t get notified when you post like usual on Facebook, but they will when you do a live broadcast.

What Can Your Business Learn From This?

Firstly, there’s no magical formula to make a video go viral.

Let’s look at Candace’s video for a moment:

  • To the best of my knowledge, she didn’t set out to make a viral video
  • If it was just about the Chewbacca mask, it wouldn’t have gone viral
  • What made it viral was her laugh and fun-loving nature. Here is a lady who is real and who is funny.
  • The original broadcast was funny / interesting enough to be shared.
  • Kohl’s response was excellent. They were quick and rewarded her in a natural way. People responded to this warmly.
  • She kept using the platform (Facebook Live) to show what was going on as she went on GMA and visited Facebook.

I’m sure Kohls have benefited greatly from this – this is publicity that money can’t buy – and they’re generated a lot of goodwill.

Facebook love it because it proves the concept of Facebook Live – this is the first viral Facebook Live video. I’m sure there’ll be many more.

The next challenge for Facebook is working out how to monetize the live videos. Do they display ads on these videos like YouTube does?

If Candace hadn’t used Facebook Live but instead posted on YouTube, would this have gone viral? I don’t know the answer. Would she have even bothered recording a video and uploading it to YouTube? And once it was on YouTube would she have shared it on Facebook? We don’t know.

I encourage you to check out the Facebook Live feature for your Facebook Business Page. In the professional services industry, people like to deal with people they can trust and video is an excellent way for people to experience you and your brand.

Facebook Live is simple to use – my suggestion is to speak on one topic, make a few dot points and then go for it. The first few times will feel a bit awkward, but you’ll probably have no-one watching those videos anyway so treat them as a learning experience.

This is a great way to differentiate yourself from your competitors – at the moment very few businesses are using Facebook Live so there’s an opportunity here.

What do you think about Candace’s video? Why do you think it went viral? Have you used Facebook Live?

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.