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Remember Meerkat? It was the sensation of the 2015 South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival because it integrated live video and social networking via a mobile app. With a few taps Meerkat users could be broadcasting live and, most importantly, their Twitter audience was invited to watch and participate. Everyone in social media stood up and took notice.
Twitter’s reaction was to immediately cut Meerkat out of the picture and take live video in house through a small startup they had just acquired Periscope. Without the connections of a huge social network Meerkat struggled and eventually left the live streaming business in March 2016. The Twitter/Periscope venture has continued to thrive but now faces increased competition from Snapchat as well as from the world’s largest social network.
Fast forward to spring 2016 and Facebook is pursuing live video in a big way and, as a result, social media marketers are being given a huge opportunity to gain exposure to the enormous Facebook audience.
Numbers continue to make the strong case for using Facebook Live:
Social analytics firm Locowise has found that News Feed items featuring a video reached 9.14% of their audience compared to 6.83% for items featuring an image. After the Locowise study was completed Facebook tweaked the algorithm so that “Facebook Live videos are more likely to appear higher in News Feed when those videos are actually live”.
Within video posts, Socialbakers found that brands are getting the vast majority of their engagement from native videos (i.e., those hosted on Facebook as opposed to links from YouTube, Vimeo, etc…).
Facebook itself adds that ”people comment more than 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos”.
Even the stately New Yorker magazine, rarely thought of as a go- to information source by social media marketers, proclaimed video as “the thing every creator on the Internet must do right now“ in a recent article on Facebook Live.
The major players in digital marketing – Facebook, Google, Twitter… — all agree that live video is going to be a major opportunity for social messaging.
This guide focuses on how to use one of the most promising and advanced platforms which just happens to have exposure to the largest social audience — Facebook Live. Airbnb uses Facebook Live to take customers “inside” and updated on new features.
7 Steps To Success With The New Facebook Live
#1 Define your objective and plan accordingly
What do you want to accomplish with your video? Get more Fans? Website visits? Customers?
Backlinks? The first thing to do is to decide where you want to go and then come up with a plan to get there.
The video’s subject should be something that displays your expertise in the field, takes viewers‘behind the scenes’ and leaves them feeling better informed, more insightful and entertained. Remember the live medium and the need to be up to date and spontaneous.
#2 Let your audience know that the live video is coming
The new Live features allow you to target your personal network, the Fans of a business Page (if you are an admin), a Group or an Event.
Can’t find a Group or Event to meet your needs? This is a great time to start one.
Let the audience know about your upcoming live video with News Feed posts. Experiment with images and perhaps even a short video to tell them about the bigger video to come. If the video is important enough you could consider boosting your announcement posts as paid advertising. Remind everyone again a few minutes before you go live.
Don’t forget the world outside of Facebook…invite your blog readers, email subscribers and followers from other networks along with a link to your account, Business Page, Group or Event.
#3 Practice your upcoming production
To launch a video Facebook app and go to the personal, business, Group or Event page that you would like to target. Click the Post dialogue and look for the Live icon.
You’ll be asked to provide a short description of your video. Put on your SEO hat and create a catchy description that humans will like and that algorithms will be able to parse successfully.
Remember that Facebook will not allow a business Page to post to a Group or Event so you will need to use a personal account in those instances. Remind the audience about your company association in posts and during the video. You might consider enabling the Follower function for your account. A Follow box will then appear on your video
Followers will receive push notifications of future videos, although they can opt out and people who click it will receive Notifications of future live videos (although they can opt-out from these notifications in their privacy settings).
While users expect the production quality to be a bit raw and unrehearsed you still need to make sure that they can see and hear you without undue distractions. Think about the background and ambient noise and decide if you want to hold the phone yourself, use some type of mount or delegate the job to a co- worker. You can use either the front or back camera.
Make sure that you’ll be going live from a spot that has a good connection and consider forwarding your calls to avoid distractions.
Facebook recommends that the live videos last at least ten minutes but you can go as long as 90. Viewers can leave live comments and the same 6 emoji reactions used in comments.
You can get all the practice time you need by setting Facebook’s “Who Should See This”. Switch privacy to “Only Me” (if you are having trouble doing this from the mobile app then do it at Facebook.com and your preference will be picked up by the app). You’ll see the video exactly as it will appear but no one else will.
Remember to change the setting back when you are done.
#4 Have a policy for instant feedback
Two new features will allow viewers to provide feedback and ask questions. They will be able to click on the same six emoji “Reactions that replaced the simple “Like” back in February. These will float across the bottom of the video window for a few seconds; Facebook likens them to applause and boos.
Users will also be able to comment during the video so you should decide in advance how and when you will acknowledge them.
Facebook recommends that you address commenters by name and make it clear how much you appreciate their involvement. Yes, you will be able to block those that you don’t appreciate by clicking on the profile picture next to their comment and selecting “Block”.
When the video is replayed, the comments will appear at the same point they did during the live event.
#5 Show time!
Make yourself comfortable and the audience will follow. You don’t need to give people a 60 Minutes level production but you do need to give them a reason to like you. Start by relaxing and don’t forget to smile.
Introduce yourself and your company and then tell the audience what you expect to cover. Unlike a pre recorded YouTube video the users will have no idea of the time commitment involved so help manage their expectations in that
Encourage comments and other feedback. You’ll be able to see how many viewers you have at any time.
End with a call to action and tell them a bit about your plans for the next video. Ask that they share the archived copy of the video that will be in the Timeline and make sure that they can easily contact you with any follow up questions.
Facebook Live videos are immediately archived and it is quite common for archive views to exceed live views.
Add a post-show comment thanking everyone again and remind them of the objective of the video. Encourage further comments/questions to get more News Feed activity and engagement.
You can edit some of the meta data of the video and change the thumbnail by clicking on its Click “Edit this video” to add descriptions and meta data to the archived version.
Date stamp (which is a permalink that you can use for sharing). Select “Options” and “Edit This Video” (you will probably need to do this from Facebook.com, especially if you are using the Android app).
You will be given the ability to change the thumbnail, add/change the location and date, provide a lengthier description and select a category. Nobody is quite sure how Facebook’s video search function will evolve but these seem like common sense measures to help your video get discovered.
#7 Analyze and start planning for your next video
Facebook has recently added two new metrics for live videos. You will be able to see the total number of people who watched at least a portion of the video along with a running count of how many viewers
Facebook is offering expanded video metrics that include retention data
This second metric could obviously help you plan for the length of your next effort. Given the attention that Facebook Live is getting there should be future analytical releases that provide more information about the interests and demographics of viewers.
Experiment/test with your next video. Try a different weekday or time, modify your approach and perhaps add a second person on camera. The great thing about video is that there are so many ways to approach it and a wealth of new tactics to try, and Facebook really wants live videos to succeed.
Twitter, Snapchat and now Facebook have realized the effectiveness of live video. Facebook is currently putting a huge emphasis on it and they offer, by far, the biggest audience. Social marketers who invest now in live video are essentially partnering with Facebook and stand to see significant long term gains in their social marketing.