It’s personal, it’s interactive, and it’s pretty simple. With Facebook Live videos, publishers easily can inform and entertain their users — and they just need a smartphone.
“Live is like having a TV camera in your pocket,” Mark Zuckerberg said when the broadcasting tool was officially introduced to all Facebook users in April 2016. And live-streaming is media’s answer to traditional television.
What kind of content works?
All topics are possible for live videos — from breaking news to interviews to events and behind-the-scenes action.
Media’s business is to give users all information about what is happening in their regions. With live videos, you give people the feeling they are close to everything, that they can take part at events even when they aren’t present. You can interact with them and be in contact with them in a personal way.
Live-streaming events is a good use for Facebook Live. For example, our newspaper, HNA (located in the middle of Germany), streamed the last minutes of an ice hockey match when our local team was qualified for the final play-offs game — and the video has garnered about 20,000 views.
Breaking news items are also great live topics for local publishers: the election of the new mayor in town, a demonstration in front of a local company, and a warning of an approaching thunderstorm are all examples.
With this content, HNA had a great success. A live weather video reached about 100,000 users, and more than 36,000 people watched the video.
But live videos are not only good for stories with hard facts. Candace Payne, better known as Chewbacca Mom, showed entertaining live videos can be very successful. Her video of her wearing the mask and not being able to stop laughing was the most successful Facebook Live video ever. Since it was published in May 2016, more than 166 million people have watched it.
Tips for live-streaming
- Number of videos: Followers always get a notification on Facebook when you go live, so be aware that people can be irritated and complain about too many notifications when you are live-streaming too often. If you are planning to do live videos frequently, you should have a specific Facebook video page so people can follow this site when they are interested in videos.
- Promote the video: It makes sense to embed your live video in a matching article on your Web site so people can see the general public can see the video outside of Facebook. And, of course, they can watch your video there when the live stream is over.
- Length: A Facebook Live video takes time to develop its reach. Your live video should take at least five minutes. Users should also have the chance to see your live video, and if you stop it after a few seconds it could confuse your viewers.
- Technical pitfalls: Live video only works when you have a good Internet connection, enough battery, and enough data volume.
- Interaction with users: A live video is the easiest way to answers users’ questions. While you are streaming, you see all chats below your live video so you can communicate directly with your fans, and you can answer their questions immediately. Many celebrities and bloggers who use this to do a Q&A with their fans.
If you want to know about what people worldwide are streaming, you can have a look at Facebook’s live map.
Streaming and equipment
You don’t need a lot of equipment to make live videos. You can get started with a smartphone and an Internet connection.
We use iPhones for broadcasting, and that works pretty good. And, of course, you can use more tools. Bad quality, bad audio, and videos that are too dark make users stop your video.
- Sound: Our experience indicates it’s a good idea to use your earplugs as a microphone when you do a spontaneous live video that should be moderated — like when there is a bank robbery and you provide all the information in your live video. You still hear some atmospheric noise, but your voice is clearly audible. When you stream an event that is planned and moderated, then you can use an external microphone.
- Lighting: It’s good to have optimal lighting. You can use portable lighting if you stream in the evening or in darker rooms. Videos that are too dark create a poor experience with viewers.
- Tripod: If you’re streaming over a longer period of time, it’s strenuous to hold your smartphone in the same position the whole time. A tripod offers the best help because you can put it on a table. Also, you can move your smartphone without shaking it too much.
- Battery: Live-streaming uses a lot of battery power, therefore, an external battery is the most essential tool for live videos. You should always have an extra battery with you.