A Content Marketer’s Guide to Facebook Live Video

It’s not uncommon for the midday temperature at Coachella music festival to approach 100 degrees. But many miles away from the Southern California desert, in the cool comfort of their own homes, more than 40 million folks watched Coachella through Snapchat video in 2015. This year, YouTube brought in remote visitors with a 360-degree live feed of the festival.

Coachella serves as today’s hottest Petri dish for live video, a media format forged of two major content drivers: mobile access and FOMO—fear of missing out. If a trending event is happening somewhere in the world, mobile users want a live video. And we don’t care how.

Facebook, as always, is paying attention. Last August, the social media giant launched its live streaming platform, Facebook Live, for celebrities and public profiles to test out. In early April, Facebook rolled out the capability for all users.

That means your timeline, and your audience’s timeline will soon be filled with live videos. If your brand has embraced video as a marketing mix priority, now is the time to get up to speed with the live trend. Let’s talk about where to start with video broadcasting and how to excel when it comes to marketing with Facebook Live.

All Right, So How Does This Thing Work?

The good news is you don’t need to download anything extra to broadcast with Facebook Live on your profile or Business Page; it’s part of the Facebook iOS and Android app.

To start a video, just tap the “Status” or “Publish” button and select “Live Video.”

Next, choose a title. The title is the only thing your friends or subscribers will see in their push notifications. Plus, this notification is unique to live video; default settings won’t notify followers of new photos, events or links in your page posts. Take advantage of this now, because Facebook will soon let users turn off live video notifications.

Make use of principles you apply to great blog headlines and email titles to pull your audience to your broadcast. During the show, you’re able to see the number of viewers, the names of verified visitors tuning in and a real-time stream of comments. Live videos include a “subscribe” button that will enable notifications any time that page launches a live event in the future.

We Just Got Comfortable Using Periscope. Why Switch to Another Streaming Platform?

There are a few reasons why Facebook Live will become the most valuable streaming platform. First, for individual users, Facebook’s streaming service allows you the ability to broadcast only to select friends and family. Yes, Periscope offers the option of creating private broadcasts, but Facebook’s integration with established audience lists makes the process much easier. When you go live, the video automatically pops up in your friends’ notifications and on their News Feed. That’s a clear organic reach advantage.

Secondly, for users and Business Pages, after the broadcast ends, Facebook Live videos are published to your profile just like any other content. The video asset can be shared publicly across other channels and embedded into websites and blog posts. Periscope broadcasts, on the other hand, only remain on the app servers for 24 hours. Meerkat videos disappear immediately following the live broadcast.

Additionally, modifications in Facebook’s News Feed algorithm have increased the likelihood that these videos will appear higher in the News Feed while the broadcast is live.

Facebook isn’t shy about sharing the benefits of this algorithm treatment: According to its newsroom analysts, users spend as much as 3x more time watching live videos and comment 10x more than they do on pre-recorded videos.

With engagement being such a critical driver of a brand’s success on social media, this is huge for content marketers looking to justify their budgets and reach more people through shareable information. Assuming constant production costs, the only added expense for a Facebook publication would be the option of paid promotion. And because Facebook is a platform most audiences are already using, brands have fewer barriers to cross in order to make an intimate connection with their fans.

Ok, So What Should I Broadcast?

Before you answer this question, commit to a streaming calendar in advance. After you’ve scheduled broadcasts, announce the time and title of upcoming live videos on your social media accounts at least a day before you go live. You may even want to create public Facebook events for your live videos and launch the video directly on the event page.

The calendar also serves to focus the goal of your broadcast. Plan what you’re going to talk about ahead of time so you don’t ramble endlessly. Keep in mind: With a live video, your audience hasn’t agreed to watch for a set period of time. Be respectful of that, and focus on keeping your live viewers engaged about your topic.

That said, here are some live-streaming strategies to try:

The How-To

Find a process or problem that pertains to your expertise and relates to your business. Then walk your audience through the solution. Allow some time at the end to field questions about your steps.

Tastemade, a digital food and travel publisher, has already staked an impressive share of the live how-to market. It’s an ambitious plan: to publish 100 live shows a month on Facebook. The broadcasts, which feature recipe tutorials and cooking franchises with on-camera talent, can pull in 100,000 simultaneous viewers.

The Product Demo

A question CMOs may start asking: Is Facebook the new home for sales demonstrations? The live service certainly offers the potential for event planning around products and services, with live feedback and an instant recording for follow-up.

The beauty product subscription service, Birchbox, uses Facebook Live to announce new products and offer tutorials. In this video, the hosts suggest Mother’s Day gifts subscribers can request in their next box.

Breaking News

If your company operates in an industry with frequent updates and news, you might consider using live video to address issues with authority. Be sure to compile expert sources in advance who can report live on-demand, should news break under their knowledge umbrella. When done correctly, this is a great tool to help establish expertise and keep your customers informed.

Check out Southwest Airlines’ breaking-news format: Amid Winter Storm Jonas, this video takes you inside the network operations control room and introduces staff members who help manage flight risk and responses during weather threats.

The Backstage Pass

Give your fans a peek behind the curtain on a typical day at the office or an upcoming event. Dunkin’ Donuts used Facebook Live to go inside “Dunkin’ Brands University,” where the company creates its products. The show, hosted by Dunkin’ chefs, offered a tour of the facility and a tutorial on how to make a wedding cake out of Donuts—it was Valentine’s Day weekend, after all.

The Group Presentation

Think of this as a video lunch and learn. If you typically host sessions for a specific group of clients or colleagues, experiment with the format on Facebook. You can create a Facebook group or event and stream your live video to just those followers. Or extend your regular teachings to remote participants. For instance, fitness expert Christine Dwyer broadcasts her classes on Facebook Live, so her audience can join in from anywhere.

The Client or Influencer Interview

This is my favorite strategy because it’s a win for both parties. Your subscribers get the opportunity to meet a notable associate, and their subscribers, hopefully, get to know that person a little better. Whether you design the interview as a case study or a Q&A, have fun with the format; offer to have the guest ask your team questions, or invite your guest to test new products.

You’ll notice in this Lush Kitchen Q&A, YouTube vlogger Emma Blackery starts with a five-minute tour of the kitchen. This short behind-the-scenes moment—and showcase for a product called Jungle Shower Jelly—allows viewers time to join the broadcast and get their questions in.

7 Ways to Improve Your Live Videos

Prep and Rehearse

This is key. You want to plan your goals for the campaign, how those goals will be measured, the structure of the video and contingency plans for issues during the production. Script and practice as much as you can, while allowing for spontaneous audience interaction.

Nail the Technical Details

Record in an environment with good lighting and acoustics. For the best quality, you may want to invest in a microphone and a simple tripod for your phone. And remember to speak up a little more when recording a video with the back camera.

Be Willing to Experiment

As with any marketing campaign, your live videos should vary enough, in the beginning, to test what works best with your audience. Test different duration lengths, types of events, presenters, camera angles and live times. Measure, compare and discuss metrics of attendance, comments and likes during these variations.

Create the Conversation

Here’s the big difference between a live stream and a television program: the acknowledgment of your audience. As soon as you go live, be sure to greet your audience and even give a shout out to fans in attendance. Think of your live video like a children’s program and literally talk to the camera. It sounds crazy, but it’ll make your audience much more comfortable and willing to participate. The same result can be had if you respond live to comments posted during or after the broadcast.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask viewers to share the conversation at the start. Invite your viewers to share the broadcast with their friends and colleagues who may be interested in watching. This is a great way to build your audience through your current fan base.

Drive Subscriptions

Everyone who joins a live stream is prompted to subscribe to that page’s video content. At the beginning and end of your program, remind your viewers to subscribe to your videos.

End with a Call to Action

Make sure to conclude with a simple call to action, such as visiting a product page or private messaging you for follow-up questions.

Redistribute Your Content

Remember, Facebook banks the recording of your live broadcast on your page for future viewing. To amplify the reach of that content, consider creating a video ad from your broadcast, writing a blog post with highlights of the video or sharing the video across other channels.

_ _ _

I imagine we’ll look back on Facebook Live as just the beginning of Facebook’s master plan for video. This past October, Facebook started testing a dedicated video news feed for mobile devices, a big step in its bullying of YouTube. As it is, Social Bakers reports more brands are now uploading video directly to Facebook than are sharing YouTube videos. Virtual reality is next, but for now, embrace Facebook Live and have fun stretching the format.

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