By Alyssa Curran and Erin De Baets
You’ve got your iPad fully charged and connected to the internet. The tripod is securely placed in the perfect position to capture the excitement of your event, and now you’re ready to pull up your Facebook Page and start your video broadcast. Here’s the second part of our list of Facebook Live tips (part one is here): Things to think about when you’ve hit the “Go Live” button and the show has begun, and what to do after you’ve called “Cut!”
Catch Their Attention With a Caption – Before you go live, you have the chance to type in a description of what you’re going to be showing. This is a chance to grab your followers’ attention before they even see any moving images. Make the description concise but compelling, the kind of thing that viewers will read and say, “I want to see what this is all about!”
Timing is everything – When you begin your broadcast, Facebook sends a notification (which includes the engaging description you just wrote) to your followers letting them know that you’re live. Keep in mind that it may take a minute for people to click on the notification and get to your Page to start watching; if you’re able to time a small buffer into your broadcast to allow folks to join you, they’ll be happy to see that they didn’t miss the beginning of the good stuff. If your video will have an on-screen host or emcee, this small delay at the beginning is a great time for them to say hello, ask the folks watching to say hi back via Comments, and invite viewers to Share the video on their own profiles. As for the ideal length of your broadcast, Facebook recommends that Live videos run for at least ten minutes; the longer you’re live, the more likely viewers will jump in and catch the action as it’s happening. Knowing how long to let the video run (you can let it stream for up to 4 hours!) will depend greatly on what you’re showing, but as you’re streaming, you can see right on your screen if the number of viewers is dwindling, so with practice, you should be able to find the sweet spot.
Be prepared for surprises – Many of you will recall cringe-worthy live TV moments like Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl halftime show, John Travolta mangling the pronunciation of Oscar performer Idina Menzel’s name, or Steve Harvey announcing the wrong contestant as the winner of last year’s Miss Universe pageant. Awk-ward. But that’s the nature of live entertainment! You run the risk of those in-the-moment mistakes that you can’t catch until it’s too late. Say you start your broadcast and someone messages you that the picture is showing up sideways. Whoops! You can broadcast Facebook Live in landscape (wide) or portrait (tall) orientation (the video itself will be a square either way), but sometimes the rotation feature doesn’t cooperate, as one of the authors of this post found out on a recent live-stream attempt. The point is, when live-streaming your event, go in expecting that things like this will happen, and be prepared to roll with it. If the blunder is caught early, you may be able to end and restart the broadcast without much notice. But if not, carry on and remember that a hiccup here or there won’t ruin your video.
Engage with the audience – Unlike live television, Facebook Live is designed to be an interactive experience between the streamer and the audience. Usually within seconds of your broadcast starting, you’ll see the tally of viewers at the top of the screen start to increase as people click over to you (remember, your Page’s followers are sent a notification when your live-stream begins). While the
broadcast is live, viewers can “react” by clicking the Like/Love/Laugh etc. icons (the tiny circular thumbs, hearts, and smileys will float adorably across the bottom of your video), and they can comment on the video. The comments will scroll below your video feed, and this is where you can get the most out of your audience interaction: your viewers are talking to you, and you (whether through an on-camera host or a behind-the-camera voice) can talk to them too in real time! The simple act of acknowledging the commenters by name (“We’ve got Kiki watching from Minnesota. Hi, Kiki!”) will draw them in and keep them watching.
One thing to note: real time on Facebook Live is not exactly real time… There does tend to be a lag between what you’re showing live and when a comment will show in response. This lag is rarely more than a couple of seconds, but it’s long enough to throw some confusion in sometimes. For example, if your host asks the audience, “Does anyone have questions about collecting donations for the race?”, it may be several seconds before the viewers’ questions actually start popping up in comments for you to see. Be patient, fill the lag with interesting commentary (it’s a great time to remind viewers that they can share your video on their own Facebook profiles, and can click the Follow button on their screen to see future live-streams from you), and then when you do see the question, read it back and give a dazzling answer. And remember, if you have a second team member whose sole job is to watch comments and reply in text tuned in to the stream, you can respond to twice as many people!
Posting Your Video – When your live broadcast has ended, your video is automatically posted (within a few minutes) to your Facebook Page where viewers can watch it from start to finish, any time. Nifty, right? The comments made during the stream will show up as comments under the posted video, and new viewers can add comments too. Like with any other posts, you can delete the video if you decide you don’t want it to live on your Page long-term. You also can go in and edit the text description to add more information if you’d like. You can even boost your posted video if you want to get even more eyes on it!
Even with Facebook’s constantly changing algorithm (i.e., the magical formula Facebook uses to decide what will show up in someone’s News Feed), video content remains the star of the show. Using Facebook Live on your event not only exposes thousands of people who aren’t actually there to the action and excitement on the ground, it also provides you with dynamic, ready-to-go video content, maximizing your online reach even further.
Alyssa and Erin are the dynamic duo who make up the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® social media team. When they’re not tweeting, “Liking,” or blogging, Alyssa is probably crafting recipes in the kitchen, hiking, playing with her daughter, or buying more nail polish she doesn’t need, while you might find Erin out on a run, in watching Netflix, dominating a pub trivia game, or, if it happens to be move-in day at her freshman daughter’s college dorm, streaming the whole day’s activities on Facebook Live like a good, embarrassing mother should.