By now, you’ve probably heard about the various live streaming video services that the major social media platforms have been throwing their weight behind. Twitter has Periscope, Snapchat offers Snapchat Video, and even YouTube—the granddaddy of non-streaming video—is set to launch a live streaming service called YouTube Connect. These all provide more or less the same service: The capability to stream video live, as you record it, directly to your fans, followers, or to anybody who happens to click on your feed. If you’re curious about whether live streaming video would be useful for your business—or even how you’d use it—Facebook Live, which is Facebook’s live streaming offering, may be the best place to get ready for your close-up. Keep reading to learn why.
What is Facebook Live?
Facebook Live lets you post live video directly to your timeline. It’s a status update that happens in real time. Facebook soft-launched Facebook Live in December 2015, with access limited mainly to celebrities and others with a large number of followers (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Martha Stewart were among the guinea pigs). As of January 31, Facebook Live has been available to us mere mortals, and you can use your business page to post Facebook Live videos just as you can with your personal account.
Facebook is putting considerable muscle behind Facebook Live, paying major sites like the New York Times online, Buzzfeed, and the Huffington Post to use the service. The New York Times has proved an eager adopter, with dedicated staff for live videos that have included everything from an exclusive interview with Caitlyn Jenner to a live-streamed wedding. While Twitter’s Periscope scooped up the rights to live stream NFL games, Facebook Live appears to be elbowing out much of the competition (like the blink-and-you-missed-it Meerkat).
What’s the big difference between a Facebook Live video and a recorded video that you post to your page? Live streaming enables users to see what’s happening as it happens, and it allows you to interact with Facebook users directly right there, in real time. You’ll see users’ names and comments as they come in, allowing you to respond to comments during your webcast or to follow up with users afterward. This type of interaction lets you create a highly personalized experience for viewers, building your connection with both existing and potential clients and customers.
Why Choose Facebook Live?
Unless you’re hoping to reach an audience that skews especially young (in which case, Snapchat Video may be your best bet), Facebook is the social network where the folks you’re trying to reach are already hanging out. Facebook has over 1.04 billion active daily users, and including Instagram and Messenger, the average Facebook user now spends 50 minutes per day using Facebook in one way or another. A decent chunk of that time is spent watching videos: As of January, Facebook hit 100 million hours of video watched on its site per day. Facebook also claims that live videos get more engagement than normal video posts (which already tend to get more engagement that other types)—the social giant says users are 10 times more likely to leave a comment on a live video than on a regular upload. If your business is already on Facebook, then you’ve got an initial audience for your video built in: Your Facebook Live video will automatically show up as a notification on your fans’ or followers’ timelines. If you become a Facebook Live regular, you may also start to gather subscribers. Different from fans, followers, or friends, subscribers get notified any time that you’re webcasting on Facebook Live.
Another reason to choose Facebook Live is the ability to use its privacy functions when you want to make a more “exclusive” video, and to go public if you’re hoping for a following. The Facebook Live Map is a feature that’s unique to the streaming service. If your video is public and you have your location turned on, you’ll appear as a blue dot on the map. The more people watch, the bigger your dot grows. Get a decent following, and you become more likely to pick up casual browsers who just want to see what all the fuss is about. On the other hand, if you want to make a video that appears only to people who follow your page, or only to a group, you can use Facebook’s settings to restrict your Live video to just those people. In contrast, Periscope videos are always available to anyone using the app. Even with a public Facebook Live video, you can block users if needed.
The last big plus for Facebook Live is that even though your video is live, it doesn’t have to be short-lived. Periscope videos automatically disappear after 24 hours; Snapchat videos depart after they’ve been viewed. Your Facebook Live videos stick around as posts on your page. If you pin your video to the top of your business page, you can wind up having many more people watch and comment on it than may have initially watched your live webcast. You can also choose to “boost” that post (i.e., pay to have it show up on more of your followers’ timelines), helping you to reach more eyeballs. Permanence also means that you can use your Facebook Live videos elsewhere on the web. For example, if you have a Live video where you demonstrate a product or answer a customer’s question, you can repurpose it by embedding it in a blog post on your website.
How Do You Make a Facebook Live Video?
All you really need is a video-enabled smartphone and the Facebook app, but before you go Live there are several elements that you should consider. First, there’s what to do or say. Second, there’s how to make sure you’ve got a good-looking video. Last, there’s the nitty-gritty of choosing your settings, tags, and title.
Think About Your Format
You might use your personal account to live stream your adorable new kitten (well, unless you run a pet supply business!)—you should use your business’s Facebook Page to post videos that help people learn more about who you are and what you do. Have a plan in mind before you start filming, so you don’t find yourself tongue-tied. If you’re hosting an event, you can show off behind-the-scenes footage or let viewers in on what they’re missing. Toggle between the front and back cameras on your smartphone, so that viewers can see what you’re seeing when they aren’t seeing you. Another idea: Host interviews, whether with employees, local experts, or even clients. That type of video can help to demonstrate your expertise and build trust. A “how to” or “how it’s made” video can also be a fun option, and is a style of video that can easily be repurposed on your website, blog, or on other social media platforms.
Make It (Semi) Professional
Facebook Live viewers aren’t expecting a polished, edited final product—it is live, after all. At the same time though, you don’t want your video to look like shaky surveillance camera footage. Though Pages have the option of using professional video, you can make a smartphone video more easily and inexpensively. No matter how you hold the phone, Facebook Live videos are square, so you’re only working with a fairly small amount of space. Here are some quick tips for making your Facebook Live video easy on the eyes (and ears):
- Use a tripod or selfie stick: Unless you’re on the move, you don’t want your phone to be—all that jiggling can be a bit much for viewers. Using a device that steadies your cam can make a big difference. Don’t have one available? Instead of holding your phone up in the air, prop your elbow on a shelf or your desk to steady your hand.
- Speak up: You need to be loud and clear, especially if there’s background noise. When you’re using the camera that faces away from you (to show viewers what you’re seeing rather than your smiling face), speak a bit more loudly to compensate for the mic switch. If you become a Facebook Live regular, it may be worth it to invest in a microphone.
- Light it right: Want to look your best? If you don’t want to invest in studio-style lighting, indirect natural light is your best bet. Direct sunlight can be too harsh, while artificial light can be too dim or even make you appear ghoulish. Chances are, you’ll want to show off where you are—for example, if you’re a physician and you’re doing a Q&A from your office. If you don’t, purchase some solid-colored matte paper that suits your brand from a craft supply store (specialty stores like Paper Source sell it by the roll). Tape a sizable piece behind where you’re standing or sitting, and you’ve got an instant backdrop.
- Stay on topic: Unless you’re doing an open-ended Q&A, stick to your talking points. You don’t need to have memorized what you’re going to say—it’s live, so people expect you to ad lib. But you don’t want awkward silences, or to go on for so long that your viewers drop like flies. Facebook recommends making your Live videos at least 5 minutes long, but it’s a good idea to test out different lengths to see what you’re comfortable with and what your viewers like. And be sure to always end with a clear call to action—the viewer’s interested enough to have made it to the end of the video, so think about what you want your audience to do next. Visit your website? Give you a call? Whatever it is, make sure you’ve stated it clearly and concisely before you sign off.
Point, Shoot, and Post
Before you begin your Facebook Live stream, you only have to click on a couple of settings. First, pick your audience. Next, choose a title. Think about your title beforehand, because your title is what your fans and followers will see in their notifications. Your title needs to convince them to tune in (well, to click and watch).
After you’re finished recording, you can go back and do a bit of tinkering. One quirk worth noting: Though you record your Facebook Live video with your phone, you’ll need to head to your computer to edit your video. Just look for the timestamp of your video on your Page, click Options, then click Edit this Video. Once you’re in the editing screen, you’ve got options that are similar to what you have when you upload a video to YouTube. You can edit the title, choose a screen capture (you’ll get 10 options) to use as your thumbnail, and add links and/or a summary. You can also tag your video with up to 10 tags. Facebook users won’t actually see these, but they can help your video show up in search results.
Once you like what you see, be sure to share your Facebook Live video on your Page. Click on the timestamp of the post—that gives you the permanent URL for your video—and make it an update on your Page. Be sure you’re posting as your Page (not with your personal account), so that it doesn’t get lost in the “Posts by Others” area of your page. You’ll also want to share your video in other places, too—your site’s blog is an obvious choice, and other social media platforms may be used to widen your reach. It will also help your video to amass more views—and likes, and shares—over time.
Could the immediacy of live video help you in terms of sales or awareness? Could your business’s social media presence use a tune-up? Higher Power SEO can perform a social media audit or take you through the ins-and-outs of different platforms with our consulting services. Call us at 760-881-4736 to learn more.