By: Marc Acton, Associate Creative Director
Live video has been blowing minds since the 1950s. Something about watching a broadcast live makes viewers feel like they’re in on something. What’s on their screen is happening in real time, and that’s inherently fascinating. Today, anybody with a Facebook account can engage their followers in real time, right from their phones. No directors (mostly). No writers (usually). And because it’s so new (again), every brand that’s doing it is automatically standing out (in a good way). That makes Facebook Live broadcasts a great way for small to medium-sized businesses to make a mark. To get noticed. To stand out in a (Facebook) stream.
To make the most of this feature, here are some best practices, tips and some lessons that we learned from our most popular Live event, which reached over 380K people, and had 46K views and 144 comments—all blowing our client’s average post engagement out of the water.
You only get one shot: write the best caption you can!
Your caption is your hook. It should give viewers an idea of what’s happening in a concise manner, but also make them want to watch and learn more. Do this by including who and what they’re watching, but more important, give them the Why Factor.
What we learned: For @iostudio’s most popular Facebook Live event, our caption was, “We're live with CPT Robert Killian, World Champion Spartan racer. National Guard Green Beret. 2016 Army Best Ranger winner. Colorado Guard Soldier.” We’re telling our audience who he is, but also why they should care about what he has to say.
Promote yourself. You’ll gather viewers and increase messaging impressions.
Advertise your video for at least a few days before you actually go live. The topic of your video should be engaging—something that highlights a specific business proposition, or a sale, or a special event—and promoting that kind of event ahead of time makes your marketing dollars go farther. The more they hear about what you’re offering or selling, the more likely they are to remember. Plus, you’re also reinforcing to your followers that you’re a tech-savvy brand, and that engaging with your customers is a priority. That’s always a good thing.
Check lighting and sound.
People will click away from bad audio or a poorly lit scene immediately, if not sooner. Take time to plan out where your broadcast will take place, making sure to optimize the space in advance. Avoid crowded areas or spots with a lot of background noise. Find a location where the subject is entirely visible and the background doesn’t detract from the video. Shade is better than harsh sunlight, and ideally the foreground and background should have roughly the same light. These basic elements are fairly easy to control and make a huge difference in how the content is received.
Perform a test run to work out the kinks.
Does your microphone work well? How's the lighting in the space you chose? Is your internet connection intermittent? Check by creating a test account and taking Facebook Live for a spin where no viewers can find you. This will make sure that you don't hit any bumps during the real deal.
What we learned: For our Live event with CPT Killian, we shot outdoors, and there was a dog barking intermittently next door. But because we’d tested ahead of time (including picture and audio, in the final location), we were able to place our mics to at least minimize the effect and ensure that our on-screen talent was easily heard. If we hadn’t checked ahead of time, we would’ve been at the mercy of an extreme distraction.
Proper planning prevents poor performance.
Practice your intro and outro. Practice them again. And again. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and even after you’re done, the video will live on as part of your feed. So you’re stuck with that first impression. Make sure you know what you'll be discussing, have questions prepared, and regularly remind viewers of the topic of the video for those who may tune in late. The more you practice, the more you will solidify your performance and the more professional you’ll sound.
Include calls to action. Practice them, too.
Remind your viewers to send in questions via the comments on the video. For our CPT Killian Live video, we had a team of community managers standing by to answer questions and steer viewers toward conversion, so that’s where we pointed people. Base your Calls to Action (CTAs) on the most valuable course of action you can get your viewers to take. For our event, we knew that users who engage with our customer service teams convert at a much higher rate, so our CTAs were based around asking them questions. If your highest conversion rate happens at your website, give your viewers some really good reasons to visit your website, and then send them there.
What we learned: I don’t have a whole lot of experience on camera, but I practiced my intro, my outro, and the in-between CTA references (“be sure to message us your questions …”) about a bajillion times. That helped me come across a lot more prepared than if I had just winged it. I think I did OK, but you can see here for yourself.
Marc Acton was born at a very young age in a moderately old town in Florida. Some other stuff happened, and then he became iostudio’s Associate Creative Director. For us, he proudly pokes and prods projects for the Army National Guard including social media and web, writing and strategizing content that converts. He is a fan of the Oxford comma, saying more with less, and helping write bios for extremely talented iostudians. He also flies helicopters for the Army National Guard. Which reminds us, how can you tell if a helicopter pilot is at your party? (He’ll tell you.)