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By now, you’ve probably seen enough of Facebook Live to know what it is. You know it’s a video streaming service that lets you air live videos from your mobile device or desktop directly to your News Feed. But have you actually gone live yourself?

If the answer is no, you’re definitely not alone. Many people just aren’t comfortable with the idea of “going live,” either because they don’t know how to do it or because they don’t think they’ve got anything to show or say that’s exciting enough to be broadcasted live. And let’s face it, those are both some really valid concerns.

So in this blog, I want to address those concerns, walk you through how to use Facebook Live (FB Live), the best way to analyze your live video’s performance, and the top tips and tricks for maximizing your overall reach and engagement. Because whether you’re an individual, a brand, or a cat, Facebook Live can be an incredibly powerful tool if used correctly.

Alright, so before we get into the nitty gritty of how to’s & best practises, let’s start off with why. (If you don’t need convincing, just skip this section.)


Why use Facebook Live?

1) You can share an event in real-time with people who couldn’t attend.

Imagine you’re at a conference or protest or any kind of big/interesting event. There are likely many people who would’ve wanted to attend but weren’t able to, perhaps even because they didn’t know about the event. By sharing your video on Facebook Live, viewers are able to tune in and experience it in real-time. Facebook Live gives you the opportunity to share an event with people anywhere around the world while it’s unfolding, showing numbers of people in attendance, etc.

2) It’s incredibly engaging & you can respond in real-time. 

Facebook Live gives you the opportunity to interact in real-time with viewers from around the world. When you post a regular video, you’re only able to see and address viewer’s comments after the video is done. But when you go FB Live, you can read and respond to your fans immediately on camera. That level of immediacy is amazing.

3) It can draw attention to potential crimes and injustices.

There have been many examples of Facebook Live events leading to arrests in shootings, beatings, and sexual harassment. “Live video allows us to see what’s happening in the world as it happens. Just as it gives us a window into the best moments in people’s lives, it can also let us bear witness to the worst. Live video can be a powerful tool in a crisis — to document events or ask for help.” (Facebook, 2016).

4) It’s #Authentic and lets your audience get to know you better.

There are many different tools out there for connecting with your audience. Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook all give you the opportunity to share ‘stories’, but we all know those are short and often times very carefully selected… You know, like when you take the same boomerang three times and pick the best one?

Facebook Live feels more personal than those other kinds of tools because the audience knows everything is happening live and that you’re not cutting or editing the video to make it look a certain way. Sure, you can add filters, but you can’t photoshop or do crazy edits to it so what you see is for the most part really is what you get and that can really help you humanize your brand.

Additionally, Facebook Live allows you to get to know your audience and their needs a lot better too.

5) That Algorithm tho. 

It’s no secret that Facebook really wants to push Facebook Live. Consequently, the algorithm for what shows up in everyone’s News Feed prioritizes and promotes Facebook Live posts so that you’re more likely to have a larger audience for a Facebook Live video than you would for any other type of post.

On a similar note, Facebook Live gives you the option of notifying people when you go live. That’s right. People may actually get a notification on their phone or desktop that says you’re going live.

You want eyeballs on your content? Go Live.

6) It can be helpful for leads & sales.

Even passing mentions of certain products can result in leads, sales, signups for your newsletter, etc. You can also use it to promote other content of yours. For example, just by adding in a line like “we’re posting a big video/post/whatever tonight at 8 p.m., check it out,” you might get a huge spike in numbers.

7) It can help you generate future content.

Q&As and suggestions left on Facebook Live videos can really stimulate all kinds of content ideas. By listening to the needs of the viewers and videos, you’re in a better position to create great content that your audience really wants and will therefore be receptive to.

You can also repurpose the content and that’s huge! Being able to create a piece of content that not only serves those joining live, and those who watch the replay on Facebook but to also be able to take that Facebook Live video and embed it on your website, or upload it to other platforms is awesome! The possibilities are endless.

8) It can have flow on impact with the rest of your reach.

Facebook page owners will already know that when they get good engagement on one particular Facebook post that it can help subsequent posts to get better reach. This is one of many factors in Facebook’s complex algorithm and so there might be some flow on impacts from using FB live in helping the rest of your posts get seen a little more. Note: there’s mixed evidence on this, so this is more of a guesstimation.

9) You can test new ideas and get immediate feedback.

If you can get even a few people watching your Facebook Live comfortable with interacting with you and giving you meaningful comments then you can use the live as a tool to ask your audience questions and test out different ideas. Got ideas for a new blog post, or product? Ask during a live. It’s as close to a real time conversation as possible (there is a small lag) and can really help you if you utilize it well.

10) You can do Private Live Videos in Groups/Events.

Many brands own and operate Facebook Groups and/or Events. What’s great is that Facebook Live video can actually be broadcasted into those Groups and Event pages to target the specific people who’ve liked those pages and would likely be interested in seeing the live (as opposed to a broader audience).

This is an exciting feature as it means you can do private videos to closed groups – creating content and conversations that are a bit more intimate and exclusive.

Alright, now you know 10 good reasons why you should go Facebook Live. But how do you actually do it?


How to actually go ‘Facebook Live’

If you want to go live from your desktop, start a live stream from this page. (Note: this is currently only available for admins/editors of Facebook Pages). If you want to go live from your mobile phone, continue reading below.

Step 1: Go to your Facebook profile. Click the status bar (as if you were writing a new post).

Facebook Live Status

Click Status

Step 2: Click “Live Video.”

Click Live Video

Click Live Video

Step 3: Give Facebook access to your camera & mic.

If prompted, give permission to camera & mic access. You should stop receiving these prompts after the first time you use it.

Step 4: Set up your camera & write a description.

You’re not live yet but the screen shows you what your audience to see. Make sure the camera is positioned how you want it. In the event that you want to change the camera view to selfie or vice versa, just click the rotating arrows icon in the top right hand corner of your display. Don’t forget to write a brief yet attention-grabbing description that’ll give the audience an idea what the “live” will be about. This is what will go out in the news feed and in notifications.
Preview and Description

Preview and Description

Step 5: Choose your privacy & notification settings. 

In the event you’re posting for a brand, you’ll want to keep this public. But if you’re an individual who wants to go live but maybe not show everyone on your friends list, just click below your name where it says ‘friends’ or ‘public’ and choose your desired privacy. Facebook gives you the option of going live for specific friends, or groups, or even just for yourself (which is useful for testing things out).

Facebook also lets you decide whether or not you want your FB followers to be notified when you post a video. For brands, we highly recommend you keep notifications on to maximize your reach. But if you’re trying out something new and don’t want everyone to see, sure, go ahead and turn off the notification.

Step 6: Customize it!

Facebook Live gives you some cool customization tools. Flipping the screen, adjusting the brightness and drawing (which you can also use to write things) are probably the most useful features, but the filters and faces options are fun too. Pro-tip: less is always more when it comes to this stuff & know your audience and what they’ll like.
Add Filters

Add Filters

Draw/Write something on the screen

Draw/write something on the screen

Add Faces

Add Faces (but again, know your audience… in most cases we don’t recommend this)

Step 7: Click Go Live. 

Once you’re all ready, click ‘go live’. Facebook will give you a countdown — “3, 2, 1 …” — and then you’ll be live!
While you’re in live mode, there are 4 things you can do. If you click the double arrows in the top right corner, it’ll turn your camera around. If you click the speech bubble in the bottom left corner, you can write a comment. If you click the edit wand in the top left corner, you can customize your live (i.e. change brightness, flip the screen, add a filter, etc.). And if you swipe to the left, you’ll be able to see the viewers as they join your live.

You can also see the time elapsed in your live at the top middle of your screen.

Step 8: Interact with your audience.

To keep your audience engaged, encourage them to interact with your live video through likes and comments (that’ll also help your ranking in others’ News Feeds). Then reply to comments either by speaking directly to your viewers in the video or by having someone else respond to opinions from a desktop computer elsewhere.
Reply to Comments

Reply to Comments

Step 8: Click “Finish”, Save, & Upload to News Feed.

When you’re ready to end the live, click “Finish” in the bottom right corner. You’ll be brought to a page where you can see some basic info about your live.

To save, click the little download button to the right of “HD Upload on”. This will save your live vid to your camera roll which is great because you can re-upload the video on other platforms.
You’ll also have the “Post” option which will publish the video your FB timeline, or you can choose to discard the video altogether. If you do post it, you always have the option of editing the description, changing the privacy settings, or deleting the video later on, the same as you would for any other kind of post.
And voila! You’re done!
End the Livestream

End the Livestream



Now let’s talk numbers AKA analytics!

The performance analytics readily available for Facebook Live videos are like that of ordinary videos on Facebook, with some cool additions.
*For Prerecorded videos: Facebook lets you assess minutes seen, exceptional viewers, video views, 10-second views, and average % end.
*For Facebook Live videos: Facebook lets you analyze all the metrics listed above, plus peak live viewers, people reached, reactions, comments, and shares.

Along with all these static numbers, you’re also able to click into each metric to see the way that it changed over time when the video was live. For instance, if you click “Peak Live Viewers,” you’ll see an interactive graph of video viewers over time. It’s possible for you to see graphs over time for any of the metrics I mentioned above.

Here’s how to Access These Analytics on a Company Page:

Step 1: Go to your Page and click the “Insights” tab.

Click Insights

Click Insights

Step 2: Select “Videos” from the menu on the left.

Click Video

Click Video

Step 3: Scroll down to “Top Videos” or tap “Video Library” to see all the videos your Page has posted.

Top Videos & Video Library

Top Videos & Video Library

Step 4: Click the video you want analyze.

Once you click the video you’d like to analyze, a different screen will pop up (see below) that’ll have the analytics for that specific video. On the right you’ll see “video performance in this post” which you can click to see specific graphs.

Video Insights

Video Insights

Step 5: Click the specific metrics to see a graph.

If you click any of the metrics under “video performance in this post” you’ll be able to view a graph of those numbers over time when the video was live. So for example, below you can see the “peak live views”, you can actually scroll over the graph and see the exact numbers depending on the second of the video. To get out of the current graph and go back to the other options, just click the left arrow next to the title of the graph.
Peak Live

Peak Live

Step 5: Click “Post” to see how your post did overall.

When you click a specific video to analyze, the screen that comes up automatically is the analytics for the specific video. But at the top where it says “Video” and “Post” right next to each other, if you click “Post” you can see how your post did overall.

Post Views

Post Views

And that’s pretty much it for analytics!


Now let’s talk tips and tricks.

1) Give everyone a heads up on when you plan to go live (if possible).

This will help you inform your audience, get them excited, and build anticipation for your live stream. You can even use it as an opportunity to ask your audience if there’s anything in particular that they’d like to see, or if they have specific questions for a Q&A.
Pro-tip 1: Facebook says the sweet spot for letting your audience know is 1 day before.

Pro-tip 2: Don’t forget to post on other platforms as well! Whether it’s your Instagram story, Snapchat, Twitter, etc., make sure your audience knows when you’re going live and where so they can tune in (just don’t overdo it with the reminders because that can be annoying).

2) Have good wifi & test out live video using the “Only Me” setting.

Good wifi is crucial for a good FB live. If you’re not sure about your wifi connection or some other factor (like audio) that might influence your live, you can do a quick run using the “Only Me” privacy setting first.

3) Keep reintroducing yourself.

When you begin the video, take a minute to introduce yourself and what the video’s about. But bear in mind that when you initially start live streaming, you’re not likely to have many people as FB will still be building your audience. As people find your video on their News Feeds, they will join in — but that means you’ll need to reintroduce yourself a second, third, and even a fourth time to catch people up who weren’t there from the start. You can do it along the lines of “if you’re just tuning in, my name is X and I’m here covering X event” (or whatever your live stream happens to be about). Keep it short & sweet, but do remember to do it.

4) Don’t use copyrighted music!

Apparently Facebook is able to detect the use of copyrighted music and a number of users have been banned from broadcasting on Facebook Live for up to 3 months for playing copyrighted music. So if you’re going to use music, make sure it’s not copyrighted!

5) Engage in conversation, but don’t try to say hi to everyone.

You want people to comment on your video and be engaged. You also want to respond to those comments. But if you’ve got a lot of people watching your live stream, what you don’t want to do is try to say hi to every single person and have the content of your video to become nothing more than you saying hi –because let’s face it, that’s pretty boring. Instead, choose interesting comments and questions and address those ones.

When you do respond to commenters in your live, try to include their name. Just a simple “Sarah asks ___. Great question Sarah. Well, ____” or that sort of thing does wonders. People really appreciate that personal touch and it’ll also motivate others to leave comments as well (in the hope that you’ll address them too).

If you have a large Facebook following and your live stream is getting a ton comments, it can really be tough to keep up with them. In this case, you may want to have someone else observing and responding to comments from a desktop computer. Sure, it’s a little less personal than the video shoutout, but it’s still better than missing and not addressing comments and questions at all. This way the person in front of the camera can just focus on the most important/interesting comments & questions and really making sure they deliver a great live.

6) Don’t speak when you’re switching the camera around.

It’s pretty great being able to switch the direction of the camera while you’re in the middle of a live, but it’s important to note that there’s a little bit of a lag when you do that –especially with the audio! So if you end up switching the direction of your camera during live, make sure to stop speaking while you do that change.

7) Space out live videos with other Facebook posts (>2 hours).

Because Facebook ranks Live videos higher than other videos and posts, HubSpot’s social media manager Chelsea Hunersen recommends that you space out your Facebook Live videos with other Facebook content. “Wait at least two hours before or after you post a Facebook live video,” she says. “Otherwise, your Facebook Live video may cannibalize added traffic.”

8) Make the video visually pleasing.

Although all videos on Facebook autoplay in people’s News Feeds, they’re on mute until the viewer manually turns the volume on. Which means you’ve got to be visually engaging — not merely in the very beginning of your broadcast (although that’ll be important for when folks view the video later), but throughout the video as more and more people join in. The more visually interesting you can make your live, the more likely people are to stick around.

9) Be #Authentic.

The spontaneous, intimate, interactive nature of Facebook Live is what makes it so engaging. So be yourself, be unrehearsed (granted, if you’re doing a talk on a specific topic, it’s a good idea to kind of know what points you want to touch on so you’re not all over the place), make jokes (if appropriate), and just have fun with it! If you’re enjoying the live, chances are the audience will enjoy the live too.

10) Ask your audience to comment, like & share the video.

One of the main ways Facebook’s algorithm ranks a post is by how many people like and share it. The more people engage with your FB live, the more it’ll appear in people’s News Feeds. So make sure you actually ask for that engagement. You can even ask viewers to like your page on Facebook and/or subscribe to live notifications by clicking the little downward-facing arrow in the top right corner of the live video post, and clicking “Turn On Notifications.”

It’s not awkward if you don’t make it awkward. It can be as simple as “hey everyone, just wanted to take a quick second to thank you all for tuning in today. If you’re enjoying this live and want to see more like it, please like, comment, and share the video.” Or let’s say that you’re at a parade and there are some incredible dancers, you could say “did you guys see that? give us a thumbs up if you liked those dancers!” I know. I hate asking for likes too, but you just gotta do it.

11) Don’t end your FB live too early & say goodbye before it’s done.

Two things here. First, the longer you broadcast — especially as likes, comments, and shares begin coming in — the more likely individuals are to fall upon your video and share it with their friends. Because time is such an important factor for participation in these live videos, we recommend that you go live for at least 10 minutes. That being said, if you don’t have enough good content for that long, don’t drag it out for the sole purpose of making it longer because people will leave if it’s not engaging.

And before you end your live broadcast, be sure to thank your audience and say bye!


Concluding Remarks:

That’s it! We’ve covered why, how to, and some best practises for Facebook Live. We hope this guide helps you and we’re interested to see how Facebook develops their live video platform to assist brands connect more deeply with fans and followers, and people connect more deeply with friends, family, and community. If you’re looking to expand your audience with a professional live stream video, connect with us below.
If you enjoyed this guide or if you’ve got any tips that we didn’t cover, please leave us a comment below! Thanks!


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