Facebook Live has been available for some time and many aren't getting the most out the new feature. From individual users to businesses, people are missing out on serious possibility. But what keeps them from making the most out of this isn't a desire to do so, it's in preparation and execution. With just a little extra attention to some very important details, you can turn this live video feature into an amazing addition to your PR efforts, or even offer up next level support for clients.
With that said, how can you improve on your Facebook Live efforts? Beyond knowing your subject (because, if you didn't, you won't be bothering with a live streaming event), I have ten tips that will all go a long way to greatly improve your events. Let's dive in.
1. Find the perfect time
Timing is essential to Facebook Live and you have to know your audience. Of course, in knowing your audience, you'll know the best times to offer the event. If this event is to educate or support your clients, then you dictate the time (unless you've managed to find a way to monetize the Facebook Live event feature). Otherwise, you have to find the perfect time to run your event. This is tricky and everyone will tell you a different time. Instead of making guesswork out of this, I highly recommend you create a Facebook poll to find out the time that would best suit your audience. After one poll of my audience, I discovered Wednesday between 1-3 PM EST was the ideal time to host a Facebook Live event. Doing this not only increased my audience, but the audience participation.
Give this the attention it deserves so you can find the ideal time for your event.
2. Get your sound right
Today's smartphones have incredible cameras, but mediocre mics (at best). The last thing you want to do is have a great live presentation be foiled by bad sound. Not only does it make your event hard to hear, but it comes across as unprofessional. I've spent plenty of time on this issue myself and have come up with two solid solutions.
The first solution is using a USB mic like the Blue Yeti. This is an amazing condenser mic that will make your live events sound incredible. There are only two caveats with this mic. First, it requires a USB A to micro USB adapter (or USB C). These are cheap and can be found just about anywhere. The second caveat is that the Yeti mic is big. Very big. This means your smartphone will have to remain stationary. But that's actually okay, because you don't want to be presenting a live event with a jarring camera anyway.
The second solution is a mic like the Rode VideoMic Me. This is a stellar little mic that you can attach directly to your smartphone (either pre iPhone-7 iOS or Android) and offers amazing directional pickup. It's tiny, so you can take it wherever you want.
There is, however, a very frustrating caveat to this mic. RF noise from your smartphone will cause a fairly nasty hiss during the broadcast. The only way around this defeats the portability of the mic (to an extent) but it works like a charm. Buy a TRRS extension cable (of at least 1 foot) so the mic isn't physically against the phone. With a 1' TRRS extension (such as this), I was then able to zip tie the mic to the boom (Figure A) and get interference-free audio for my live events.
The Rode mic ready for its closeup.
I will say, however, the sound from the Yeti is superior to that of the Rode, but when you need a bit more portability, the Rode is the way to go.
3. Lighting is your friend
I do all of my Facebook Live events in my recording studio. Why? First off, the sound is great. Second, I have two panels of LED lights mounted to the ceiling that offer up an amazing amount of light. Although modern smartphones have very impressive cameras, they can't turn your dimly lit space into a professional looking location for your company Facebook Live event. If you don't have a studio, you can at least find a location with ample light. And don't even think about fluorescent lighting (as the color can cause you to look unhealthy on camera). What I did was purchase two Husky 5 ft. 2500 Lumen Multi-Directional LED Work Lights and hang them from the ceiling (minus their stands). With those two lights, I get enough illumination to make my live events look professional and clean.
4. Strong Wi-fi is key
When selecting your space for the event, make sure you have the strongest possible wireless connection you can find. These events are very prone to buffering issues and a less-than-amazing wireless signal can cause problems. You'll probably see the "weak signal" warning on the Facebook app. I get that even though I'm mere feet away from my wireless router.
5. Promote your event before going live
If you think you're just going to toss a live event up and the crowds will amass, you're wrong. You've got to announce when the event will be in plenty of time for your audience/clients/customers to schedule time to attend. Make your first announcement a week in advance and then promote the event every day until the day of. You can even tease the event with other, much shorter, live events.
6. Write a solid description
This may sound like marketing (or Facebook) 101, but you have to write a solid description of your event. But don't just use words. Use personality or branding for your description. Make sure prospective audience knows what to expect and why they would want to attend. Make sure the description is inviting and enticing. Do make sure to keep your description short. 140 characters-level short.
If there's one thing I've learned from Facebook Live, it's that the events are exponentially more successful when you interact with the audience. People will post comments and questions; pay attention to them. It is important to understand, however, that there is a pretty serious lag between live and broadcast. So when you answer a question, it won't be heard immediately. You must make sure your audience understands this. I also like to take this a step forward by interacting with the audience by name. Make sure the audience knows you know they are there and that you respect and appreciate that fact. Take the time to say "hello".
8. Be real
When you present during a Facebook Live event, the inclination is to perform. For certain events that's fine, especially if you have the performing chops. Thing is, what most audience members want is to see real people presenting real ideas. So when you tap Go Live, make sure you are just that — live. Be yourself. Be genuine, honest, and real.
9. Context is important
When you begin your event, give the audience a bit of context. Who are you? Why are you hosting the event? What makes you the ideal presenter for the subject? And what exactly are you going to present? And while you're at it, make sure to include such context in your promotional efforts leading up to the event.
10. Do a practice run
You can always practice your Facebook event. Before tapping the final GO LIVE button, tap PUBLIC (under your name or company name) and then tap Only Me (Figure B). By doing this you can post the live video such that only you can view it. By doing this you can review your work and improve it for the real deal.
A practice event is a valuable tool for Facebook Live.
Just remember to switch it back to Public when it's time for the real thing.
This takes time
When you first start with Facebook Live, you might not draw the audience you expect and you might stumble out of the gate. You have to give yourself time to acclimate yourself to the process as well as give your events time to find an audience. You won't start your first event and have thousands of people in attendance (if you do — go you!), so don't be disappointed if your first few events see a low turn out. Give it time and build this up. In the end, it'll all be worth it.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.