3,2,1 and you’re Facebook Live

We’re in what feels like week 38,765 of lockdown and if you’re like us, you’ll be craving real, human connections big time (from a safe social distance, of course). This is not only important from a personal perspective and emotional wellbeing standpoint but from a professional perspective too.  We’re having regular discussions around this (along with the trials and tribulations of homeschooling and whether to tik or not to tok…) and it’s pretty clear that businesses are looking for more creative ways to connect with their teams, to build deeper more meaningful relationships with their customers and to offer genuine support. With this need, we’ve seen more companies, particularly hyperlocal entities or SMEs, turn to Facebook Live to reach out to their communities and offer real-time ‘engagement’ which really helps to build brand advocacy too.

Due to its ‘live’ nature, this form of social interaction is very ‘real’ and much like documentary style ‘realism’ in film (yes some of us have media studies backgrounds…mise en scene anyone?) it allows those that join a Facebook Live session to not only have direct access (particularly why many love the celebrity and influencers channels which we didn’t have in the past) as well as easily relate to the people on camera – it’s in the moment – no edits – anything can happen. That’s part of its charm – you get to experience that very moment with your host (warts and all) and those that have also joined virtually.  Don’t get us wrong it’s not all celebrity gazing – Facebook Live is being used for great causes, charities and by the wider business community to interact directly with their audiences too.

It’s perhaps unsurprising then that 90 million small businesses currently use Facebook as part of their marketing communications strategies, with  97% stating that Facebook Live helps them to better connect with their audience.  On a national scale, we only need to look at how fitness influencers have stepped things up during COVID-19 and the impact that live streaming is having – P.E with Joe, anyone? If you haven’t ‘gone Live’ before, it can be difficult to know where to start but we’re here to help, with some top tips.

Set your objectives
All marketing communications should be shaped around a wider strategy, and we’re firm believers in keeping ‘purpose’ at the forefront of all that you do. Every Live session you conduct should have its own set objective, whether it’s to answer key questions, host a live workout session (we’re looking at you, Turn’d Up Fitness) or to support your community through this troubling time with some advice-led content – something that the Cardiff-based Coles Funeral Directors recently did very well. Be clear, stay focused and make sure it aligns with your brand values. 

Plan ahead
There’s nothing worse than a live broadcast gone wrong (well not for those watching of course), and it’s usually one that hasn’t been planned out correctly (we talk a lot about planning, but it’s pretty important!). Start by mapping out how long your session is going to last, what you’re going to talk about or do, and who else needs to be involved. We’d suggest just getting pen to paper and letting your ideas flow before refining.

Create a Live event
Now that you have a plan, it’s time to set those wheels into motion. Did you know that Facebook allows you to schedule a Live event ahead of time? Not only does this give your followers the ‘heads up’ that something is coming, but it can help you to understand how much interest this is going to generate ahead of time, allowing you time for pre-broadcast promotion. Once you go live, you followers will get a notification and it’ll appear in their newsfeed, encouraging them to tune in. To access this function, go to your Facebook page, click the button ‘Create Live’, then ‘Schedule a Live video’, input all of the details and post. It’ll then become available for your followers to see. We’d suggest doing this up to a week before your scheduled session is due to begin.

Setting up
In the words of stereotypical (or wannabe) directors everywhere – lights, camera, action!

 

  1. Lights – when choosing your location, avoid any backlighting from windows around you, and choose a good natural light or a well-lit room where the lighting won’t change throughout. You don’t want the sun setting mid-live, putting you in darkness in the middle of your big moment.

 

  1. Camera – A few technical tips here but make sure your camera is set up and functioning before you go live. We’d recommend filming in a landscape format so if you can do this on a desktop device, this will be done automatically. But on mobile, you’ll be forced into portrait mode, so keep that in mind as you can’t change the format of the post once you’ve clicked the Live button.

 

  1. Action – once you’re in position, avoid moving around too much and turn off any devices that might serve as a distraction. When you’re broadcasting, you want to give this your full attention so take your time with your words, don’t rush. If you make mistakes, don’t worry – we’re all human. Take a breath or a moment if you need it. Also, if you’re a parent (to human offspring or the furry kind), make sure you pick a time when they’re safe in another room or under the guidance of another adult. We all remember the viral video of Professor Robert Kelly’s children wandering in while he was filming live from his home office (it’s happened a few times during video calls for us already). Don’t let that be you!

 

And you’re Facebook Live…
An obvious place to start but introduce yourself and the topic of your broadcast at the start of every session. You may have to repeat this throughout as not everyone will join at the same time but as your followers become notified of your live status, the number of viewers will likely grow. As people join, audience acknowledgement and engagement is important (you’d say hello to people if they came through your front door) so make sure you acknowledge new viewers and respond to comments *where appropriate* and relevant. As comments come in, you may want to say things like ‘thanks X for your comment / question’ or, ‘great question there from X’. You may want to leave questions until the end, but that’s entirely up to you and will likely be based upon the structure you’ve outlined for the day. Bear this in mind during your planning phase.

Widening your reach
Once you’ve completed your broadcast and hit the little red ‘Finish’ box at the end of your session, your audience engagement doesn’t have to end there. Instead, you’ll see the option to post your Live to your page, which we would recommend doing so that your followers can catch up on your content later on. Plus, you’ll also be given the option to save the video, so you may want to consider this so that you can upload it to other platforms in the future (IGTV anyone?). From your page, you can also manually reply to any comments you received during your live broadcast, keeping the engagement going and the conversation flowing.

Measurement
Let’s not forget measurement.  After all, you don’t want to spend time on your comms activity without understanding the impact that it is having for you (always try to link it back to business objectives – what was the purpose of going Live). Utilise Facebook’s Insights function to gauge your views (Facebook counts a view as anything above three seconds), your engagement rate (positive and negative), clicks and the number of people reached, and this will typically be measured over a 28-day period. There will be other metrics you can tap into that are not digital – for example, deepening relationships, building brand advocates – this will be seen in other ways beyond the numbers – but numbers are a great place to start.  If you’re looking to host a number of live events, take the time to analyse which session performed best and why.

Remember…it’s ok not to be perfect
Last but not least…We’ve talked about all the planning and preparation that you can do – but as with any event, there is only so much that is in your control.  So, if you experience some niggles along the way dig deep, breathe and smile.  You’ve got this!

If you’d like any more advice on Live broadcasts, we’d be happy to help – drop us an email, tweet us or give us a call – we’d love to chat.