Have you heard of Facebook’s newest feature, Facebook Live? Predicted to be one of the hottest social media trends of 2016, it just rolled out to all verified Facebook pages.
Could this be the game-changing social media tool you’ve been looking for? Or just another shiny object…
After Twitter acquired Periscope back in March 2015, Facebook decided to make their own play at live video. But there is one crucial difference between other live streaming apps and Facebook Live, and I want you to really think about the power of this:
Facebook Live announces to a large percentage of your friends or fans when you go live, and holds you at the top of their news feeds while you are live and up to 30 minutes after.
So while Periscope may allow you to send a tweet (that quickly gets passed by in a sea of noise), Facebook’s algorithm is currently “rigged” to be extremely favorable to those going Live.
What does that mean for you?
Because most people already have a lot of friends on Facebook, you can automatically start your endeavor as a Facebook Live enthusiast with a captive audience.
What if I don’t want to annoy my friends with my business-oriented Facebook Live?
The first thing I tend to do when going live on my personal feed is make a “friend disclaimer.” I briefly state that I’m mainly talking about business and entrepreneurship and that my close friends and family might not want to watch. You can also use your description to hint at that same message, but I feel that a disclaimer in the intro is quite appropriate.
Or, if you have a Facebook business page with at least a few hundred likes on it, you can simply start your broadcast straight from your page, inside your Pages Manager app. More on that later.
Me… My first business broadcast was for a giveaway tied to event our company sponsored. Unfortunately, due to a weak connection, the video didn’t turn out very well:
Power tip: Make sure you’ve got a great internet connection before you begin.
Preparing to go Live
Before diving into Live for your business, there are a few considerations worth making.
First off, who’s the best person in your business to go Live? You can’t just hand this off to the bubbly receptionist, or your lead sales guy.
You need the person who represents the company, and the brand. Whether that is you, your boss, your CMO, or a paid actor (if you’re so fortunate), you need to make a decision early on about who will go Live for your business.
Standing in front of a camera is a hard job, and it’s not for everyone. I’m not here to say every business owner should use Facebook Live, but I am here to tell you that if you’ve got spirit and a little bit of pizazz, you can make it work — and you can make it work for your business.
Set your Facebook page up for business
But there might be one more step to your Facebook business page that you haven’t taken yet — verification.
In order to verify your page, you just enter a phone number for Facebook to call you with a verification code. Then you enter the 4-digit code. It’s that easy.
Two more quick tips for your Facebook page before going live:
1. Make sure you’ve set up a call-to-action on your Facebook page.
2. Make sure you’ve got a compelling image and header, preferably something that humanizes your brand and even connects with your “front person.”
Secure the right equipment
Now that you’ve locked in your talent, let’s talk about the equipment.
You’ve presumably already installed the latest version of Facebook on your mobile phone.
You need a great internet connection. Whether that is your 4G LTE data plan or a Wi-Fi connection, make sure you know where to go — and where not to — to ensure a solid connection.
I’d recommend a selfie stick. Twenty to 30 minutes of holding out your arm is going to be hard work. The selfie stick makes it easier. And it will give you a wider angle, which will be crucial at times.
Mic? Maybe. If you would like to take your Live game to the next level, a lavalier mic could help remove background noise and improve the audio quality, especially in a louder, or more crowded area. If you are planning on interviewing others in a loud space, then maybe consider purchasing a high-quality microphone that plugs into your phone. A custom mic is not necessary for going Live. For your very first Live, I wouldn’t even worry about it.
Anything else? Maybe keep a glass of water nearby to help clear your throat because you will be doing a lot of talking.
And try to remember any props you might use during your Live. You don’t want to be caught heading into your untidy bedroom to grab a book or note in front of a live audience.
Figure out what to say
The first rule about Facebook Live is that it’s LIVE, not scripted. Don’t write down what you are going to say word for word — but you do need a strategy for what you are going to talk about.
Give yourself five to 10 bullet points that you’d like to hit on during your talk. If you’re interviewing, think of a few good questions beforehand and write them down.
The nice thing about going Live is that you are often the front person, the camera person, and the person holding the queue cards. This means you can reference your notes during your chat without it seeming too cheesy. Just try not to drop the camera in the process.
4 ways to use Facebook Live
You can use Facebook Live for business in a number of interesting ways, including:
Use Facebook Live to announce a contest. Make sure the contest asks (not requires) viewers to follow your page and then directs them back to your website or uses some other email collection strategy so that you are capturing your prospective customer data throughout the contest.
2. Behind the scenes
Are you a baker? A bar owner? Maybe a graphic designer?
Go Live and show people what it is you are doing behind the scenes. Give them the nitty-gritty behind your business and show them what it’s really like to do what you do.
3. Live interviews
If I’m rating reasons to go Live, hosting an exclusive one-on-one interview with a speaker, influencer or celebrity would have to be the best one.
If you are running events, I highly recommend having someone do some Live interviews alongside your event. It will strengthen awareness for your event, without giving away the premium content for free, and it really lifts the whole event to a new level.
4. ‘Face’ time
Answer customer questions, tell a great story, or engage around a topic in your industry. If you have something to say (pertaining to your business), say it.
But don’t just talk about your day or fill your Live with fluff. This might work for major celebrities, but probably not for your business.
Remember, using Facebook Live for business means using Facebook Live in the context of business. The further you get away from the purpose of your business, the less likely you will actually see a tangible business result.
Don’t commit to a Live unless you are sure you can provide a lot of value.
Should you have guests?
Yes. You should take any opportunity to throw someone into your stream at random, so long as you believe it adds value to your Live.
- Interview passers-by by asking their opinion on your topic. Look for the people staring at you like you are a crazy person talking to your phone (because you are a crazy person talking to your phone) and signal them to come over.
- Bring in friends, co-workers, bosses, employees, competitors, whoever, and ask them the tough questions that everyone wishes they had the answer to in your industry.
- Schedule special guests to appear on your Live. This is a great way to meet influencers, speakers and celebrities when possible. Tell them you’d like to steal them for a few questions and go.
This is how I was able to interview Arman Rousta right after he got done speaking at Growth Marketing Conference. I would have never gotten five minutes with him otherwise.
Making sure people show up
In the 24 hours prior to going Live, schedule three brief posts announcing when and where you’re going Live. Announce your topic and ask people to join you in the discussion. It doesn’t need to be anything too fancy.
My preference is to schedule these posts at 24 hours before, two hours before, and 30 minutes before. This gives the people who care enough time to plan around your Live.
How to set up your first Live video stream
The inside of your cubicle is really not that exciting … go Live in interesting places. Take people to a place they can’t often get to on their own — a place they’d like to explore with you.
Experiencing Live is a vicarious proposition. Viewers want to be you and they want to see what you’ve got going on that they don’t.
I’m not saying you need a limo or Ferrari to impress your audience. It could be as simple as being in a park, at your favorite pizza place, or walking on the beach. Make it someplace better than inside your car or office as often as possible.
3 contributing factors to the reach of your Live
Here are three things that will impact the reach of your Facebook Live:
1. Length of the Live – five minutes won’t get as much reach as 30 minutes.
2. Where you are posting – personal, business, group – and what is the reach of that account?
3. Quality of the Live – low video quality, low user engagement, bad audio … Facebook is tracking these metrics and their algorithm makes snap judgements that decide how many people they are going to notify about your Live.
How long is too long?
Facebook Live will automatically cut your broadcast after 90 minutes, so we already have a clear maximum. The longer you stay on, the more engagement and viewers you will have, so aim for a broadcast time of more than 20 minutes.
However, don’t stay on the stream simply to increase the length of your video. If you aren’t providing value, stop.
If you’ve run out of things to talk about, or if your key fans and engaged audience members are leaving, stop.
For the most part, no Live should be less than five minutes. That’s kind of a waste of a Live.
As long as you are providing value, stay on the stream.
And I can’t really comment about back-to-back streams — I’ve never been that ambitious.
This is Live for a reason. Don’t go on some rant and ignore all your fans. Engage with them. Answer their questions.
If they are asking something unrelated, you can either choose to answer it quickly, or tell them you will have to talk about it another time. Try to stay on topic, but do not ignore a good question.
Try to encourage questions as often as possible, and if you’ve got enough fans, you can even make the entire session all about question and answer. It’s a great way to engage with your audience, pass your knowledge, and build authority.
Handling rude comments
You’re going to get trolled, spammed, or hated at some point. That’s just what happens when you put yourself out there to the world.
For the most part, it’s best to ignore rude comments and foul language. If you can, click on and remove the comment from your Live, so as not to distract other fans.
You can also block users in real time if necessary. Simply press and hold their comment and select “Block User.” Use this as a last resort, though, because even haters can have a positive influence on you and your brand. After all, they are voluntarily watching you.
You should end every Live with a clear call-to-action that is specific to the topic at hand, yet sensitive to where you are posting your Live (like in someone else’s group).
Always encourage follows.
Remind people to follow you multiple times throughout your video. There are two ways they can do that depending on how they are viewing your stream:
1. Hit follow in the top right corner of above the video.
2. Click the three dots at the top right corner of the video and select “Follow ‘My Company.’”
Send them to your website
If you’re wrapping things up, tell viewers to head to your website or blog for more of your thoughts on the subject matter. Ask them to browse products, course or posts, or send them to something specific if you’ve previously done a blog post on a topic related to your live.
Get their email
Do you have an email capture set up on your website? Send people there. If not, ask them to message you or your page with their email address and you will add them to your email list.
Sell them something
If you’ve got a product related to the topic of your Live, and you’ve been building trust with your audience for a while, it’s OK to sell straight from your Live — but don’t make this an every video kind of habit.
Your first goal is to provide value. Your second goal is to build an audience. And your third goal is to sell something. Make sure you’re tackling these in order, or it won’t work.
When selling on your Live, make sure it’s related to the topic. You can’t just sell someone on plumbing services when you were talking about how to fix a leak. At that point, your job is just to remind people who you are and who to call in the event they need plumbing services.
Where to go Live
Where you post your Live is up to you, but it’s going to stay there throughout the course of being Live, so choose strategically.
If you’ve got a personal fan base that follows you on Facebook, go Live from your personal account. It only takes two clicks to get started:
If you’ve got a few thousand fans on your Facebook page, go Live from your Facebook Page.
To do that, log into your page from Pages Manager, click the “Post” button, and select the “Go Live” icon.
And, if your goal is general awareness, building authority or influence, and/or educating your audience, consider hijacking a Facebook Group …
How to hijack a Facebook Group for 30 minutes
If you are an active Facebook marketer in any sense of the term, you should be in quite a few Facebook groups pertaining to your industry. I’m in more than 10 groups centered around startups or marketing — naturally, since my main business is in helping startups with their marketing.
Posting a link or image in a group is one thing; it gets a couple of clicks, maybe some engagement, but it could also be seen as spammy or low quality. And if it is violating any terms of services laid out in the group description, it could get you banned from the group.
But what if you went Live in a Facebook group? Would that be memorable? Unique? Valuable?
Especially if you don’t currently have a following on your page, you could consider going Live in a Facebook group to “borrow” that audience.
Remember, if this group isn’t yours, the people in it don’t necessarily know you or anything about you. Your job is NOT to sell them or talk about your products or services. Your job is to educate and entertain them, provide as much value as possible, and maybe, briefly mention your page and how to follow you personally as you are closing out.
As Suzi Nelson (the community manager for DigitalMarketer.com) says about going Live in Facebook groups:
“Think about what stage of the funnel you are talking to.”
If you’re on someone else’s Facebook group, it’s completely about engagement, education and fun. If it’s on your own page, it’s about sales or driving people back to your site.
You should always ask permission from the group owners first (as a courtesy), or at the very least be an active contributor to that group before barging in. And only if you get permission would I recommend putting a link back to your own page (or a related piece of content) in the comments section. Otherwise, that is a bit over the top and rude. You don’t want to get your post taken down and banned.
Again, remember, you are not selling anything. You are helping others first, and hoping that they will keep in touch so that you can help them again later.
What happens after you’ve gone Live
Phew, it’s over. You’ve closed your stream and now you’re done, right? Wrong!
Your Live stream just turned into a regular video post on your feed, except one crucial bonus: Facebook continues to promote your Live videos for up to 30 minutes after you’ve closed your stream. This means your video might already have some virality and buzz to it. Take advantage and do these three things:
1. Add a link in the comment section.
If appropriate, link to whatever your main call-to-action was in the video, and always remind people to follow you in the process.
2. Promote it to help grow your audience.
You can share it in a group. Send a link to your email list. You could even turn it into a video ad if you wanted. If your Live stream was any good at all, I’d recommend following it up with some promotion.
One thing I strongly recommend is NOT cross-posting your Live videos to other platforms. YouTube is not a great spot for a Facebook Live video. A YouTube video lasts forever, but the value of a Live starts to fade as soon as it’s over.
3. Answer any comments you didn’t get to.
If you missed someone, make sure to respond in text afterwards. Going Live is all about engagement! Don’t leave them hanging. Stick around for at least 30 minutes after you’ve closed out to answer any comments that might pop up.
Final thoughts on using Facebook Live
Soon Facebook will be rolling out Live Filters and Doodles to help increase your Live engagement. And even more important than that, they will allow viewers to invite a friend into your Live stream. Can you say “viral?”
To check out how many people are going Live, head over to Facebook’s Live Map:
You won’t believe where some people are streaming from … Tibet? Really?
Is Facebook Live for you?
If you’re a small business owner thinking about sharing some of your trade secrets, answering some of your customers’ problems and engaging with them in real time, and you’re good in front of the camera, you might just find Facebook Live is the platform for you to get some additional exposure.
Don’t jump into this with one Live video and expect there to be 20, 50 or 100 viewers. You need to commit to at least 15 Lives in order to make this a concrete test for you to start gaining some traction.
To really hit this thing head on, I recommend posting every other day for a month, test multiple different calls-to-action, post across your page, your business page, and many groups, and see how people respond.
Jumping on the next “shiny object” is fun and easy to do, but getting tangible results for your business requires focus and a solid strategy. If you’ve got what it takes, there aren’t many good reasons not to try Facebook Live. It just might be the next best thing for your business.
What do you think? Will you be using Facebook Live for your business? Have you seen any tangible results with posting Live videos? How does Live compare to other streaming platforms? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Also published on Medium.