By Alyssa Curran and Erin De Baets
Remember back in the days of yore (like, the 80s), when major sporting events, political debates, and SNL were the only video broadcasts you could watch live, in the moment? How times have changed! Now, anyone with a mobile device, an internet connection, and a Facebook account can initiate a live online video transmission with just a couple of touches on a screen using the new Facebook Live feature. Innovation like this can be fun on a personal level, but it goes beyond fun and becomes downright game-changing when used on a large-scale event.
Here at Event 360, our two biggest projects—the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® and
MuckFest® MS—have been using Facebook Live on-event this summer, allowing us to bring the event experience to more people in a dynamic, dare we say LIVELY way. In this 2-part blog series, we’ll share our tips for getting the most out of Facebook Live on your event, starting with
Part 1: Before The Broadcast.
Put Your Planning Hat On – What part of your event will you broadcast? Will you stream the event from start to finish? Is your event set up in a way that allows you to talk to participants on camera? Will you have an on-camera host or emcee? You know the structure of your event from top to bottom, so you can plan in advance which elements will resonate best with an audience at home or watching on their mobile phone.
Assign Roles – If you’re shooting your event as a silent observer (streaming a feed of your event’s opening ceremony, for example), then one person is enough to handle the Facebook Live broadcast. However, if you plan to use an on-camera presenter, it’s best to find a second team member to shoot the video, as opposed to the host broadcasting in “selfie” mode. In either case, it’s ideal to have a second person tuned in who will be able to pay close attention to the comments feed (more about the comments feature in Part 2) and answer questions textually and/or relay questions verbally to the on-camera host.
Promote, Promote, Promote! – Even though Facebook Live is still relatively new on the scene (the feature just launched in April of 2016) experts will already tell you that promoting your broadcast ahead of time gets people excited and prepared to tune in. Also, it can help you connect to your most influential audience members, who want to be sure they can be present for broadcasts and events that they’re passionate about. Once you have established a date and time for your broadcast, share often on Facebook, as well as on your event’s other communication platforms like Twitter, Instagram, your blog or email newsletter.
Think of Logistics Before You Go Live – How will you be connected to the Internet (via Wi-Fi hot spot or a cellular network)? Is the area you’re shooting from going to cover a wide enough angle? Is the view too wide or cluttered in the background? If you’ll have an on-camera host or emcee, will he/she be wearing a company or event-branded shirt? While some of these details may seem unnecessary, having them worked out ahead of time makes moment when you go live much less daunting.
Consider Lighting, Sound, Motion – Whether you’re streaming the finish line at your 5K or a benefit concert in a symphony hall, you need to think about optimizing the light and audio quality for your video. In the event world, more often than not this will simply mean positioning your camera device in a place where your subjects aren’t back-lit by the sun or obscured in unflattering shadows. If you’re shooting an indoor event, will there be enough light for your subjects to be visible? Natural light from windows is ideal, but if that’s not possible, try lighting your subject from the front with soft artificial light. For sound, be careful that you don’t set up your tripod right next to a speaker or in a place where it will pick up excessive ambient noise from wind, traffic, or crowd chatter. If you will be holding your camera device instead of using a tripod—and definitely if you plan on shooting in motion, such as walking or running alongside your race participants—a handheld stabilizer for your device can be a great investment (an internet search of “smartphone video stabilizer” will deliver dozens of options in every price range). On a related note, depending on how elaborate you’d like your camera set-up to be, there is an endless variety of phone and tablet accessories available, including external microphones, compact LED lighting kits, and snap-on camera lenses, all of which can greatly enhance the quality of your broadcasts.
Practice makes perfect – Doing one or more on-camera trial runs is supremely beneficial because just when you think you have every detail worked out, something new comes up; practice runs will (hopefully) allow you to catch potential problems before the real thing. True, run-throughs aren’t always feasible, especially if you happen to be catching a special event experience IN the moment (Finish line marriage proposal? Gotta capture it!). But if you do have some time to set up first, do a dry run. If you’ll be broadcasting a person speaking, give them a quick rehearsal or two so they can get a feel for being on camera and see how they’re going to look and sound. You can also make adjustments to light, sound, and background, if need be. You may be asking, “Won’t it look bad if we’re streaming rehearsals to our event’s Page?” You’re right, that won’t look great, so use our trick: Set up a secret Facebook Page that only you can see, and give your live streams a spin there before moving over to the official Page.
Once you’ve worked out the logistics, had a practice run or two, and feel confident that you’re as prepared as you can be, you’re ready to call “Action!” In Part 2, we’ll share our best advice for making the broadcast shine once you’ve gone live!
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.