Video is one of the best ways to engage with your audience. And live video is even better. Facebook has tools built into it to create some fantastic content. But if you don’t follow a few Facebook Live best practices, then you aren’t going to be able to make the most of your streams and your audience.
So, are you ready to go live? If you’re not quite sure, I’ve pulled together nine top tips that you need to follow for your online success.
1. Don’t do it for the sake of it
Your audience is clever. They’ll know when something is being done just for the sake of it and not only will it make them walk away from your current broadcast, but it’ll also put them off tuning into any future ones. So if you don’t have a genuine and compelling reason to go live, then just don’t do it.
Here’s a few ideas to get those creative juices flowing…
- Q&A / ask me anything
- Live poll
- Sports games
- Viewer-driven content
- Awards show
- Breaking news
- Election results
- A ‘pressure builder’
We’re not suggesting that you go live on Facebook every week - that would probably go against point number one - but it’s important to consider how Facebook Live streams will fit into your overall marketing strategy. On the other hand, don’t just do one video, decide it isn’t for you and then never go live again. It takes time to build up a regular audience.
All facets of your marketing should be working together. They all do different things but they all have similar goals. Think of Facebook Live as just another tool in your arsenal.
"Don’t just do one video, decide it isn’t for you and then never go live again. It takes time to build up a regular audience."
3. Exclusive content
People can’t resist a good bit of exclusive content. They’re going to want something that does something a bit different and gives them a reason to watch it live. Not only will it be incredibly compelling, but it strengthens the connection between the two of you.
- Behind the scenes - People love to take a peek behind the curtain. Give people a tour of your headquarters or a department they’ve never seen before, or show them how your product is put together.
- Special content - This could be a special performance or an exclusive interview, but people love additional content that complements something they are already interested in. This is why shows such as ‘Strictly - It Takes Two’ and ‘Love Island: Aftersun’ are so popular.
- Special events - If you have something that is usually reserved for partners or those who work in the industry, consider using that as Facebook Live content. Live events are incredibly popular so why not get on board? This could be a conference or trade show, or even something as simple as unboxing a brand new product.
A screenshot of the Wimbledon Coffee Morning which was streamed on Facebook Live along with other platforms.
4. Have a plan…
You should have already established your purpose for going live, but what’s going to happen once you press that button? Have a rough idea of the direction you want your stream to go in or what kind of outcome you want to reach at the end.
5. …But go with the flow
While it’s always good to have a plan, having something too rigid will severely limit your creativity and make the whole thing sound stiff and jilted. Authenticity will make you seem more relatable, and unpredictability adds an extra layer of friendliness to your streams. Things are bound to go wrong, it’s worth accepting that from the get-go, but as long as they don’t shut down your entire broadcast, simply embrace any imperfections.
Just act natural. Don’t have a script, don’t try too hard to dictate anything. Focus on fun and organic. Play games, host competitions, do Q&As, laugh, talk and joke. People will appreciate the relaxed nature far more than a deadly silent set with two people reading off a piece of paper.
6. Break the fourth wall
It may be a big no-no for the big screen, but “breaking the fourth wall” is a perfect way to get your audience engaged. Facebook Live is the ultimate two-way experience. It’s not just about whoever is in front of the camera, you want as much focus as possible on the audience at home.
Ask them questions, ask for comments and reactions and display them as you go. Make it personal by addressing people by their name. People love to hear themselves mentioned online - it gives them a little glow inside - so if they take the time to comment, thank ‘Mark’ and give him a genuine response.
Just make sure you’re on the ball when it comes to responding or giving feedback. We understand that you might not be able to reply to everyone but if you leave someone hanging for too long or ignore them altogether then you may lose a viewer.
"Facebook Live is the ultimate two-way experience."
7. Let your audience drive
Building on the point above, put your audience in the driving seat and let them steer some of your stream’s direction. The beauty of Facebook Live is that it understands this and has a number of engagement-oriented features built in such as real-time comments, polling and Live Reaction emojis.
Let your audience determine what happens next by asking them to vote on the next stage through the onscreen polling. Their votes could determine the next step in your video, or could even help shape up the next video. It’ll keep them coming back for more.
8. Promote your streams
You can come up with the most unique and creative idea in the world, but if no one is watching it, did it even happen? You need to let people know that your stream is coming up, and to get them to tune in on the day, so here are a few best practices to follow:
- Build up the buzz - In the days and weeks before you go live, publish posts across your social media to get people excited about your stream. Got a little bit of budget? Why not boost a post to reach as many people as possible.
- Look outside Facebook - Just because you’re streaming on Facebook doesn’t mean that’s the only place you have to go. Send out an email campaign, add a banner to your website and utilise your other social media accounts, too. Cross-promotion makes sure you are casting the net wide
- Video on demand - Inevitably there will be people who miss your live broadcast, but that doesn’t mean they should miss out on your content. Luckily Facebook Live automatically records your streams - one less thing to remember - and you can post them as a video on demand for people to watch whenever they want.
This guide may be strictly about Facebook Live, but while you’re broadcasting on there, don’t forget the other streaming platforms out there. You may as well cross-stream while you’re at it! YouTube, Vimeo and Twitter’s Periscope are all other platforms you can use to get yourselves out there, and it can actually be incredibly easy to set these streams up to run side-by-side. When it comes to getting people to watch your content, you want to cast the biggest net possible. A project we worked on, Wimbledon Coffee Morning, maximised its impact by streaming on Facebook Live initially but also across other platforms.
10. Don’t sell to them
The last thing people want to do is tune into a broadcast in their spare time and all they hear is you pushing your latest product or service. It’s boring and it’s going to make them click away and possibly never come back. Hard pitches and sales tactics will turn people off, but by all means stay soft and get a few subtle mentions in there. Keep your streams about the fun and unique content as much as possible.