We’re very excited about the possibilities for live video to reach, engage and build communities on social. We began compiling some early stats and best practices that we hoped would be helpful to businesses getting started with Facebook LIve, and really enjoyed providing this information via our first live broadcast this past Friday! Our agenda included:
- Why we’re excited about live video
- Technical Tips and Best Practices
- Stylistic and Conceptual Best Practices
We also discussed some recently posted live videos (which we link to below) that we think exemplify some great ideas and approaches to this quickly-evolving format.
Why It’s Important
Live video has the potential to bring audiences of millions together, which we’ve already seen. It’s the first time that we’ve seen content really converge, not only in space and through fragmentation, but actually at a moment in time. Live video is sort of re-creating the watercooler on Facebook, a trend that we’re incredibly excited to observe.
Live video was a major focus of F8, Facebook’s annual developer conference, which was held April 12 and 13 in San Francisco. Until F8, live video was only available on smartphones, but Facebook released a live video API (which we didn’t get working in time for our broadcast, but definitely will for our next). It enables live broadcasting from any device like a camera or even a drone.
There are implications for live video as it relates to media and entertainment producers that we’re only just beginning to understand. When will the first hit TV show premiere live? What does this format mean for scripted program producers? Will we see more Q&A segments like what Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. posted in March?
Live video is going to inherently lack the polish of recorded video, especially as more amateurs join the space. But that doesn’t mean that your videos have to break all the rules of sound and picture that have evolved since black and white film first debuted on the silver screen.
- Phone or camera: Facebook’s Live API enables broadcasting from cameras. We experimented with the live video API but ran out of time prior to our broadcast so we broadcast from my iPhone.
- Tripod with phone attachment: Using a tripod will help stabilize the shot making it appear more polished. We also used a smartphone tripod adapter. (We actually started with Samsung S6, but found that the video didn’t rotate when the phone was mounted horizontally so we switched to the iPhone.)
- Microphone: We used an external mic that plugged into the headphone jack, which produced much better sound quality than my iPhone alone. It was also equipped with a pop filter that helped filter out some of the background noise. Test your sound prior from computers and mobile devices.
- It may seem obvious, but don’t forget to introduce yourself. Tell the audience why you’re live and what you hope to accomplish during your broadcast.
- The longer you broadcast, the more likely your video will stay at the top of News Feeds, which will allow you to continue accumulating viewers. Every once in awhile, remind them who you are and why you’re broadcasting.
- We found that having an outline written on a whiteboard behind us during our livestream not only helped keep us on track, but provided a roadmap for our viewers. A screenshare would also be helpful, but requires the live video API.
- If you’re holding your phone while filming, this will be less of an issue. But if the phone or camera is mounted to a tripod, figure how ahead of time where you need to be to stay in the frame. It’s a lot easier than you might think to drift out of the shot.
- Shoot closer than you think would be necessary. Remember, most people will be tuning in from a mobile device and a long body shot makes you appear miles away and too far for something that essentially ignores the fourth wall.
- For optimal discovery, try building buzz for your live broadcast by doing short live video tests in advance of the live stream.
- Use your existing social audiences on Facebook, in addition to Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or other social platforms where they’re engaged to tease your live broadcast.
- Cross-promotion is an important part of generating engagement with live video. Use your talent and influencers. Freeform’s ShadowHunters promoted a live chat with cast members minutes before they aired it, and made powerful use of their Instagram audience.
One more thing: Practice. I can’t emphasize that enough. This live broadcast snuck up on us. Despite our best efforts to prepare, we still found ourselves scrambling until the very last minute. Even though we prepped segment by segment, it’s easy to go blank once you’ve started broadcasting. Keep your notes handy and try a round-robin format with some other people, which will give you a few moments to refresh and think about where the broadcast is going.
So far, we’ve noticed two different approaches to live video: produced and stylized vs. intimate and personal. There are advantages to both and one may be a better fit for you, your brand or publisher.
Bleacher Report posted a 40-minute live video previewing the upcoming NFL draft, which had the feel of a show produced in a studio. It featured different camera angles, cutaways to different screens and highlights of players—examples of Facebook Live’s capabilities using the API.
The video generated more than 3,300 actions (likes, comments and shares) and captured more than 47,000 views. Of those, 52% were comments, more than a 12x increase compared with the average Bleacher Report video in April. That mirrors a trend we’ve seen from live video. Many are clearly intended to start a conversation with audiences and comments dominant total actions.
On the other side, Jimmy Fallon posted a video in February of his monologue rehearsal for that night’s Tonight Show taping. The video had a much different feel than the example from Bleacher Report. It appears that the broadcast took place from a handheld phone judging by the quick panning to show the audience and a monitor where video clips that would appear during the show were displayed. The 10-minute video generated about 18,000 actions and more than 610,000 views.
Facebook Live Best Practices
As the competition to engage audiences intensifies, live video is now among the best ways to engage them. Facebook’s News Feed prioritizes live video, as we mentioned earlier, which should help content producers. But we’re seeing another interesting trend with live video: they generate comments, lots of them. Facebook has cited a 10x increase in comments during live broadcasts.
Perhaps the most successful is BuzzFeed’s watermelon explosion. The video has generated about 382,000 actions, 84% from comments and 10 million views. It’s BuzzFeed’s most commented post year to date with 200% more comments than its average post in 2016.
But it’s not just publishers generating engagement with live video.
Patrón proved the value of posting useful content with its live video teaching viewers how to make a banana split cocktail. Monster Energy-sponsored BMX rider Pat Casey took trick requests during a live video post in March. It was the most-commented Monster Energy content year to date.
As we mentioned above, Facebook Live is new to everyone, even seasoned television and movie personalities. You’ll probably make a few mistakes at first, but that’s part of what makes it fun. No one is perfect, especially us. If you haven’t watched our first attempt at live video, check it out. There are a few moments we’ll do differently next time.
Generating engagement will keep your content atop News Feeds and live video is another way to interact with audiences. And from what we’ve seen so far, it works. It helped us produce our most-engaged social post—ever.
Check back with our blog. We’ll be producing more posts to provide you with additional data-driven insights about live video.
Tania Yuki is Shareablee's founder and CEO.
Want to learn how to create the type of content that your audience engages with and amplifies on behalf of your brand? Tune in to What Makes Content Shareable, our next webinar April 26 at 3 p.m. EST.