Done well, Facebook Live is a wonderful tool for humanising your organisation’s offerings, responding to questions in real time, and giving your event a broader audience. Once you’ve read Facebook Live: The Basics, read on for practical advice on how to pull off a live stream that’s worthy of a standing ovation, or a flood of clapping emojis...
1. Give your organisation the best chance of getting it right by practicing the technicalities and experimenting with variables such as the amount of daylight, background noise, and aesthetics of your backdrop on personal accounts first. There are plenty of easy step by step tutorials out there to help make sure you don’t fall victim to the old phone the wrong way around mistake a la ABC Gold Coast.
2. Going live is a delicate balance of preparation and spontaneity. Think of it like a Skype interview with a potential employer – let your personality shine through but don’t relax into that bedside manner so much that you forget to change out of your robe. Make sure everyone in front of (and behind, but more importantly, in front of) the camera has agreed upon what will happen during the broadcast and that no one is a risk of going rogue. It’s also a good idea to run your concept by a handful of trusted advisers, both creative risk takers and those who err on the side of caution.
3. If you opt for a live Q&A, be aware that people are likely to ask tough questions, and may even troll. Think about potential criticisms and prepare general responses ahead of time, so you’re not caught stuttering. If you’re conducting a two-way live stream, put a confident and knowledgeable spokesperson behind the lens. It’s a good idea to get your millennial intern to help set up, but too much to expect them to field curly questions. Tough or otherwise, make sure people do ask questions by speaking directly to them and encouraging them to engage.
4. Live is a relatively new feature, which means it’s not yet on everyone’s radar. Maximise your reach by giving your followers a heads up in the weeks, days and hours before you go live. Facebook recommends an announcement the day before; post on your other social media accounts and available communication channels such as an e-newsletter too. You’re likely to be targeting a specialised audience and may even choose to broadcast exclusively to your followers, but be prepared for your video to be more widely viewed than your other posts because it will be boosted by Facebook’s algorithms.
If a large portion of your intended audience is international, it’s worth taking time zones into account when scheduling your live feed. Luckily, if you don’t feel like getting up in the middle of the night to catch your US audience on their lunch break, your video will be saved on your timeline for future viewing at the end of your broadcast.
5. Carefully consider what you’re trying to achieve through a live stream, and the kind of broadcast that is best suited to your organisation. For example, if you’re a respected industry think tank, it’s going to be more appropriate for you to stream a panel discussion that you’re hosting, rather than a behind the scenes tour of the lunchroom.
6. Take the time to do your research, but not too long…or you’ll pay for it! Don’t worry, that’s a word of advice, not a threat.
Facebook is yet to monetise Live. In fact, they’re actually paying celebrities and organisations, from Gordon Ramsey to Buzzfeed, to create quality content to encourage take up of the function. Unfortunately if you’re a smaller organisation you will have to participate for free. Sigh!
For now, live videos appear higher up on Facebook’s feed than other videos; this means you can reach most of your organisation’s followers for free. That’s a pretty sweet deal considering it’s now necessary to pay to promote other Facebook content if you want to reach more than a pittance of your followers.
It’s unlikely that Facebook will continue to extend this generosity once more organisations start using the feature, so now is the time to capitalise.
7. Don’t expect the Spanish Inquisition! Facebook Live should complement a broader marketing and communications strategy, not drive or place it (unless you’re a vlogger).
Facebook Live Checklist
DO you have good content?
DO you have well prepared talent?
DO you have a clear plan for the start, middle and end of your video?
HAVE you got feedback on your concept or test video from trusted advisers?
IS your live video part of a broader communications and social media strategy?