By Angie Dunnigan
As we all know by now, Facebook is the largest social networking platform in the world. Its newest feature, Facebook Live, enables users to broadcast live videos to the largest audience in the world.
Though Facebook Live has only been available to the general public for a few months, savvy users and businesses have already realized its tremendous value. Hubspot explains, “Why are marketers getting so excited about Facebook Live? Because it’s an awesome way for them to use the power of live video to communicate their brand stories and build authentic, intimate relationships with fans and followers.”
Sounds great, right? There’s no catch; Facebook live is free, and it’s easy enough to use. However, it’s not as intuitive as you might expect. Here are my pointers for getting the most out of this burgeoning video streaming platform:
Make sure you have a compatible device. This may seem like a silly suggestion, but you wouldn’t believe how many people try (and fail) to use Facebook Live on a desktop computer. If you have an iOS or Android mobile device (including tablets), you’re good to go.
Simply open up your Facebook profile, go to the status field (where you would typically post), and tap the “Live” icon. For people who don’t have a compatible device, Facebook has recently published instructions on how to stream Facebook Live using your existing video software or hardware.
Make sure you have a good connection. Sometimes Facebook Live videos don’t even get past the first minute because the Internet signal is too weak. If you’re signal is especially weak, Facebook will gray out the “Live” button. To avoid this, use a WiFi network with a strong signal. If you don’t have that, make sure you at least have a 4G data connection. Facebook recommends checking your Internet speed using the Speedtest app, available in the App Store and Google Play.
Know when you’re on the air. Rather than broadcasting on the fly, Facebook recommends building anticipation by giving your audience a day’s notice that you’ll be going live. You also have the opportunity to write a short description before you go live – always do this! A few catchy words can really grab peoples’ attention. You can also set your privacy to public (recommended), friends only, or custom.
When you use Live for the first time, Facebook will ask to access your camera and microphone. Once you’re on the air, you’ll see a red icon at the top left-hand corner of the video. You’ll also see the word “Live” along with a number indicating your current viewers.
Since we’re talking about real-time video here, this is not the time to accidentally start streaming before you’re ready. Preparation and attention are paramount. This includes making sure your camera is pointing in the right direction; you can change the camera view to “selfie” mode by tapping the rotating arrows icon in the corner of the screen. Note that your videos will always be square, so you don’t need to worry about whether your device is placed horizontally or vertically.
Know where and how your video will show up. While you’re live, your video will play in your profile and on the News Feeds of all your friends and/or page followers. The post will say something like “Bob Smith is live now” along with the video description. In fact, Facebook Live videos are considered a new content type and are likely to rank higher on News Feeds than videos that are not live.
For people who have recently interacted with you or frequently engage with your page, Facebook will actually notify them that you’re live. As users begin watching or leaving your broadcast, you’ll see the viewer number in the corner of the video change accordingly.
Remember to interact with your audience. Facebook Live gives you the perfect venue to engage your customers. You’ll see their comments coming in reverse chronological order (newest on top) just below your video feed. You’ll also get a sense of their reactions when they use emoticons or Facebook’s ubiquitous “like” and “love” icons.
Make sure to glance down at the comments section often and respond to every comment live! Always acknowledge your viewers’ presence. That means saying hello and addressing specific commenters by name.
Watch the time. Facebook recommends broadcasting for at least 10 minutes to ensure that more people see and share your video. Keep in mind that Facebook Live broadcasts do have a time limit of 90 minutes. If you’re planning to broadcast for longer, I suggest keeping an eye on the time elapsed – which will show up on the top left of the video – and warning your viewers that they’ll need to switch over to a new broadcast with you.
End on a high note. Don’t simply cut off your video at the end of a random sentence. At the end of every live broadcast, finish with a closing line. Say thanks to your viewers for watching, or let them know when you’ll be live again. Remind your audience that they can tap on the Follow button on your videos (including the re-plays) if they want Facebook to notify them the next time you’re live.
Before you relax, make sure your broadcast has truly ended. Even after you’ve clicked “Finish,” you may have to wait a few seconds before you hear the “ping” indicating you’re off the air. So hold that game face just a little longer!
Facebook will give you the option to save your video to your device. I recommend always doing this so that you can easily re-watch and learn from each broadcast. Either way, the video will remain on your profile for people to re-play and comment on. Just like any other post, you can remove the video or edit the description and privacy settings at any time.
Facebook Live has endless possibilities for businesses to market themselves and interact with their customers on a new level. It really is what you make of it. If you practice, broadcast frequently, and get creative, you’ll be on your way to success!