And all of a sudden Facebook Live has burst from the shadows to be the important platform it was always going to be.
Since covid-19 lockdown the numbers of people watching the platform have gone up by 50 per cent in the US. They’re likely to be similar in the UK, too.
There is three large carrots when it comes to using Facebook Live if you’re a page admin.
Firstly, there’s useful numbers who are using it and secondly, the algorithm will reward you by showing it to more people. You’ll also bask in an afterglow as it helps your other content, too.
All this breaks down to two things, planning and delivering going live. Here’s a quick post to help you decide if this channel is for you.
Facebook Live in a nutshell
Facebook Live allows you to live stream video. You can use your own account, a group or a page. People can interact with you live.
EIGHT steps to planning a good Facebook Live
As with anything, put some thought into it first and you’ll get better results.
ONE: Work it what the point is
Firstly, have a purpose to using Facebook Live. Don’t do it for the sake of it. What’s the point?
There’s a few reasons why you may want to. Fundamentally, you do it because the value of being in THAT spot NOW so you can talk to them and they can see what you’re doing.
They can include:
A Q&A on a topic.
A behind the scenes tour.
Some special access.
TWO: Work out what the Sword of Damocles is
Create a reason to keep watching.
So, if you’re running a behind the scenes tour of somewhere promise to meet with someone people would like to meet.
They can include:
Meet the artist behind the exhibition
See the politician being grilled for a Q&A session.
Wait for the painting to be unveiled.
Watch out for the hand grenade that’s about to be detonated by the Army bomb squad.
THREE: Get and then test your kit
On the face of it, all your need is your smartphone and a robust wifi connection to do a really basic Facebook Live. Simple. But to have a safety net its worth having a bit more.
For an ultra basic Facebook Live you need A charged smartphone and a wifi connection.
For a basic Facebook Live you need: A charged smartphone and a wifi connection. A powerbank to make sure of your charge. A MiFi to give you a back-up wifi signal. A tripod for your phone or tablet.
For a more advanced Facebook Live you need. A laptop and a webcam and a wifi connection. If you use this route, you can use Facebook’s Live Producer which you can access via your page through a laptop. This gives you lots of control over who can comment and other troll-busting tools.
For a broadcaster quality Facebook Live you need: Lights, camera, action and a load of other things too. I’ll leave that to the experts.
It’s always worth taking your kit to where you’ll look to do the broadcast and then practice. You can practice with your phone or tablet by broadcasting but first changing the settings so you are broadcasting to just yourself. I’ve blogged how to do a practice Facebook Live here. Practicising can help put the interviewee at ease. It’s also a chance to test your wifi. Don’t rely on 4G or venue wifi if its a big event. You’ll come unstuck.
FOUR: Get a back-up team
Decide who to have in front of your camera but also – and this is really important – have someone on your team who is monitoring the feed. Establish a bcak channel with your back-up, too. WhatsApp is good for this. The back-up can do two really important things. First, check to see if the stream is working okay and you haven’t put your camera on its side by accident. Second, vet the questions. There’s nothing that can floor someone than reading live during a broadcast that someone watching thinks you’re a twit.
FIVE: Have an ejector seat
If things go really horribly wrong and your guest starts swearing then have your back-up team ready to kill the broadcast. End. Finish. Cut. No more. It’s unlikely to happen but if you have a plan in place you’ll probably won’t need it.
SIX: Yes, GDPR is a factor
If you are shooting video then you are recording people and yes folks, that’s personal data and yes, staff need to give consent too.
To crack this, you can do two things. Firsty, a guest you’re likely to be interviewing needs to complete a permission form that you need to store. Secondly, if you’re in a more public spot you can post a disclaimer on the entry saying that you are filming and by entering they’re giving their consent. Also give them the chance to opt-out by speaking to a steward. This may be fine for a conference, press conference or a election count. I’d think twice before using Facebook Live in a public place. The risk of something going wrong escalates with more public involvement.
SEVEN: Get your audio right
Be really mindful that your phone’s mic on its own isn’t that great and you’ll struggle if the room is echoey or there’s more than one person. In normal times, I’d suggest a clip-on mic. But in the era of social distancing, looking into it, a boom, mic and dead cat to muffle the wind is what I’m trying out.
SEVEN: Draw-up a plan for the broadcast
Let’s think about a tour of a museum stores and a chat with the museum’s curator.
You’ve practiced at the venue and you’ve ironed out the chance of a wifi blackhole which would disrupt or end your broadcast.
Your plan is…
A – Greet the viewers at the shelves which have industrial equipment.
B – Walk round to meet the curator Joanne Brown at a table to see three items.
C – Unveil the Medieval pot found during an Archeological in the castle grounds.
Work out how long this is going to take and leave yourself a list of prompts to recap on every five or six minutes. People will be joining and leaving all the time. One good tip is to think about how radio does this.
Hello, welcome to the museum where we’ll be talking to curator Joanne Brown where we’ll see the first glimpse of the Medieval pot but first we’re seeing the industrial equipment.
We’ve seen the industrial equipment and now we’re seeing the Medieval pot.
If you’re filming holding your device then a map holder around your neck with the plan in so you can see it is handy.
EIGHT: Promote, promote, promote
If you’re looking to go live at 2pm on Thursday then tell people for days in advance. Tell them offline, on your website, on Twitter, in an email bulletin. Schedule the broadcast (scroll down for how to do that.)
If you’re going live on your phone knock yourself out. Enjoy yourself and don’t forget to end the broadcast when its done. Look to post it back onto your timeline so those who missed it can see it too. Your numbers are likely to be far greater if you re-post the finished thing.
Look to shoot something that’s at least three minutes long and preferably around 20 minutes. If you follow your plan and build some interaction that’ll be really easy to do.
Write a description when you go live that makes the thing sound interesting. So, yes to ‘A behind the scenes tour of Oxdown museum and the first glimpse of the Medieval pot.’ No to the rather dull ‘Our Facebook Live.’
Going live with Live Producer
Facebook’s Live Producer is great.
It’s free and full of extra functionality to make your broadcast run smoothly. It also irons out some of the problems from early broadcasts that pose a bit of a headache to public sector people.
If you’re going live via Facebook’s Live Producer there’s a few things you can do ahead of time. Using it with a page gives you a few extra pieces of functionality.
Live Producer with a page
There’s a list of options that will work for public sector communicators.
You can schedule a live video.
You can restrict comments only to your followers.
You can slow down the rate of comment to one every 10-seconds.
You can ensure all comments have to be 100 characters minimum.
You can restrict commenters to accounts more than two weeks old.
You can also make sure commenters have been following for at least 15-minutes.
Live Producer with a group or your own profile
The functionality is a lot more limited. But the chances are the people who are in your group you know and are part of your community rather than randoms who shout.
You can allow viewers to rewind.
Five examples of Facebook Live video to learn from
Picture credit: Documerica / Flickr