I just had one of the most eye-opening experiences of a platform in a while.
This evening I decided to go for my weekly haircut and since it was just a matter of getting my head shaved with a razor I figured I’d go to the local cheap barber. The one near my home is run by a lovely bunch of South Indian guys. The service is cheap, with mine costing just AED 15.
While waiting for my turn in the chair, I noticed a small commotion starting and the barbers and other waiting clientele rushed towards one of the stations, where, on the podium under the mirror a Samsung phone had been set up and something was playing.
At first, I figured – and stereotyped – they were watching some new Indian film song or popular fight sequence. I was wrong.
There on the screen was a Facebook Live video being played full screen of a football match. It was a match between Kerala and Delhi, and I – being a marketer always looking for the quirks of daily marketing life – was intrigued. I decided to pay attention as I’d never seen Facebook Live being used in a setting like this before.
What they explained to me was that someone in their friend circle was watching the match at home and since a majority of his friends were working in the service industry, he’d live stream the match from his living room, using his phone and Facebook Live, while having the camera facing the TV!
At first, I thought this was quite clever. A few friends getting to experience the match. But that wasn’t what led me to write this post.
I suddenly noticed the screen just wouldn’t stop showering the like and heart icons. They were coming in their thousands per minute and that’s when I saw the viewer number: Within minutes of the match starting, there were 4k viewers logged on and this was growing by 1000 viewers every 5 minutes. Yes, the number grew by the thousands in the little time I stood there.
Another insight: the comments were coming in at 2 per second. I counted. I stopped counting once I reached 300 and realised it had only been a few minutes of me standing there, agape.
This brings me to a crucial point.
Many of us marketers working in, on and for brands and agencies have a certain target audience in mind, a certain demographic we cater to when we think of specific platforms.
And yet, I am absolutely confident a majority of us never once considered the thousands of barbershops across a country of one billion people – and the diaspora outside such as here in Dubai – to be a direct target market for Facebook’s Live feature. That too for a football match in a country whose obsession with sport is limited to cricket as far as popular culture and marketing dollars go.
While I was getting my own head serviced, I engaged in a conversation with my barber on this topic. I asked him how he knew about Facebook Live. He said up until a few months ago he didn’t, and that a friend had shared a Facebook post by an acquaintance who had said he would stream the match from his home. That post then got shared in the thousands across the state of Kerala and the result was unbelievable.
I want to talk about this more. I want to discuss this with a larger group of Dubai marketers. Let me know if you’re interested.