Facebook Live Tips & Tactics: Best Practices Guide for BroadcastersJanuary 25, 2018
From broadcast news organizations to sports teams; from churches to nonprofits; from celebrities to the enterprise—everyone is streaming video online. And social media platforms are a top destination for this type of content, since they provide brands and personalities with direct access to customers and fans they can interact with in real time.
But if you don’t have an existing video marketing strategy, how do you know where to start? In short: To engage audiences online, you need to stream high-quality video content on Facebook Live.
If you’re new to the world of live streaming, this probably raises some questions for you. That’s why we created The Wowza Ultimate Guide to Facebook Live Streaming. This comprehensive e-book covers everything you ever wanted to know about Facebook Live and some things you may not have even thought of, including:
- Why you should stream video on Facebook, when there are so many online channels.
- Why publishing professional, high-quality video matters, when anyone can go live from the Facebook app on their phone.
- How to create more successful broadcasts that boost reach and engagement.
- Common mistakes to avoid when getting started with Facebook Live.
- Examples of content types and live streams we love from across industries.
- Equipment and configuration guidelines for your Facebook Live production workflow.
Determining that you need Facebook Live streaming is the easy part. Determining how to incorporate Facebook Live video strategically and successfully can be much harder. There are many decisions you must make in terms of the platform you use, the equipment you buy and the content you create. In this post, we’ll offer a sneak peek of all that you’ll learn when you download our guide.
Why Facebook Live?
If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you already know why it’s so important to incorporate live-streaming video as part of your marketing strategy, and, when possible, to integrate it in your product or service offering, and to use it as part of your marketing strategy. When there are so many social and video platforms out there, you may be wondering why you should focus on Facebook Live. There are a few key reasons, including:
Your audience is already there. Simply put, Facebook is the most popular social media platform in the world. With over two billion monthly users and counting, about two-thirds of all U.S. adults are on the platform. Regardless of your organization and industry, the current and potential audiences you want to capture are already using Facebook as part of their daily lives. That’s why, in a recent study we conducted on Facebook Live streaming, reaching new followers and staying connected with existing ones were the’ top two goals of the video professionals we surveyed.
The platform is purpose-built for engagement. Facebook Live offers built-in capabilities designed to attract and retain audiences. Viewers can comment on live videos and submit “Live Reaction” emojis that float across the screen to indicate when they’re happy, laughing, sad or angry about something the broadcaster is doing. These features allow hosts to interact with viewers in real time by responding to feedback and reactions and answering questions, creating an authentic two-way dialogue between viewer and broadcaster.
It’s easy to track performance. Facebook Live offers an intuitive user interface for tracking the performance of live videos. See video metrics at a glance, so you can focus on the Facebook Live marketing tactics that really work for your audience.
Does Facebook Video Quality Matter?
One common question we hear from video professionals is: “Does the quality of my video really matter, when anyone can stream to Facebook Live with their phone?” If you’re reading this post, that probably means you care about using live-streaming video on Facebook to improve engagement and reach and earn prospects or fans—which also means the answer is “yes.”
Simply put, you can’t stream professional-quality video from your phone. Mobile networks are unreliable, making your live stream susceptible to buffering, drops and connection errors. And the Facebook platform accepts mobile video differently than video from a camera or other hardware device, so you can’t stream in high resolution.
Refer to this table to determine whether to ditch your smartphone:
Top Facebook Live Tips, Best Practices and Mistakes to Avoid
No matter what type of organization you’re with, there are a few best practices you can follow—and common mistakes you can avoid—to create more engaging broadcasts and attract more viewers to your live streams. Here are just a few of the many examples you’ll find in our guide.
Top Facebook Live Tips:
- Think critically about why you’re going live. If there isn’t a compelling reason to go live, then just publish a recorded video, instead. Only go live if you’re directly interacting with online viewers; showing an event with an unknown outcome, such as a sports game; or hosting a “pressure builder,” where the outcome is known, but how and when you’ll get there remains uncertain (such as the infamous “Buzzfeed watermelon”).
- Embrace imperfection. Authenticity and unpredictability are part of what make Facebook Live interesting. Things will inevitably go wrong—and as long as they don’t shut down your broadcast, they can actually make it more compelling. Encourage both on- and off-screen talent to talk, laugh and joke with each other, play games with your followers and engage your audience.
- Schedule and promote your broadcasts. Schedule your Facebook Live streams as if they were a broadcast TV show; this gets viewers in the habit of seeking out your content at the same time every day, week or month. And make sure to advertise your broadcast via email, your website and other social channels before, during and after the event to capture maximum viewership.
- Analyze the results. Facebook boasts an intuitive user interface for analyzing live video metrics. To gauge the performance of your streams and replicate what resonates with your audience, analyze Facebook Live metrics such as engagement; reach; reactions, comments and shares; viewer retention; clicks; and negative feedback.
Common Mistakes to Avoid:
- Starting with dead air or awkward moments. Not knowing exactly when you’re live can result in sudden starts and stops, “hot mic” moments and awkward pauses. Don’t be caught off guard in front of potentially billions of viewers on Facebook.
- Going live from your phone. Shaky hands, poor audio and video quality and network instability are an inherent hazard of going live on mobile devices. If you really want to produce professional broadcasts, you need to purchase dedicated hardware and/or software for Facebook Live (see the “Facebook Live Equipment and Setup” section below).
- Forgetting about your audience. Going live on Facebook is like broadcasting to the world’s studio audience: There are real people on the other side of the screen, and you ignore them at your peril. Interact with viewers and respond to their comments and questions, or they’ll abandon the stream altogether.
Facebook Live Streaming for Any Industry
The flexible nature of Facebook Live makes it well-suited for almost any type of content imaginable. In a recent survey we conducted of video professionals, live events are the most popular content type (broadcast by 76 percent), but they also stream everything from Q&As to product demos and press events.
The possibilities are endless for the type of Facebook Live broadcast you can create. Here are some common examples we’ve seen for different industries:
Broadcasters, news networks and affiliates. Live stream the raw footage you only used a few minutes of in your nightly news segment in its entirety. Do an “ask me anything” or behind-the-scenes segment with hosts, anchors and special guests. Cover a personal story that has an emotional impact, or host an interactive contest. And of course, tease your regular programming to draw viewers back to the main event.
Adding Facebook Live as a digital “stop” on your satellite media tour (SMT) is another effective use of the platform. SMTs are typically short segments with a special guest, which may be shot live at the network studio, or filmed all at once for a number of markets and destinations in a video production studio. The real-time commenting and Live Reactions functionality of Facebook Live allows SMT guests to interact directly with viewers in all markets simultaneously, rather than having to address each market individually, as they do for broadcast TV markets.
College, minor-league and professional sports. Sports games make for compelling Facebook Live content; not only is the outcome unknown, but most viewers are also passionate fans eager to talk about the in-game action with the broadcaster and with each other. However, streaming rights to these events can be an issue, as cable and TV networks tend to guard them tightly.
If you don’t have the rights to stream the big game, don’t worry; sports fans are a highly engaged audience, and there is plenty of other content they’ll be interested in. Consider going live with sidelines commentary; player and coach interviews; locker-room coverage; analysis and highlights; or fun, fan-driven contests, trivia and interactive segments.
Churches and religious organizations. Broadcasting weekly services live on TV and online destinations has long been standard practice at many religious organizations, and many also have professional studio setups in place as a result. Facebook Live can easily be integrated into a new or existing broadcast workflow to reach massive numbers of congregants worldwide.
Beyond live services, you can also broadcast personal testimonies from members and staff; ministry highlights, such as charity fundraisers and mission trips; live Q&As for current and potential new members to learn about their faith; and virtual discipleship, such as study sessions and small-group gatherings.
Business and enterprise. Using Facebook Live for business broadcasts is a key part of any savvy organization’s marketing strategy. Just make sure your live content is engaging and interactive; save talking heads and keynote speeches for VOD.
For example, you could live stream a new product unboxing and take questions and feedback from the audience; host interactive “talk shows” with experts from inside and outside your company; conduct live virtual training and onboarding sessions with remote workers; or shoot live customer testimonials where they talk with online viewers about your product or service.
Facebook Live Equipment and Setup
Thanks to the versatility of Facebook Live, it can be integrated into a new or existing video-production workflow at any level of complexity. If you want to produce professional, high-quality broadcasts, you’ll need to invest in at least some basic hardware, such as:
- Camera(s). There is a camera to fit any budget, from consumer camcorders that cost a few hundred dollars; to “prosumer” cameras at the $1,000 – $2,000 level, such as the Blackmagic Mini Studio Camera; all the way up to professional cameras that cost tens of thousands of dollars.
- Lighting, sound and stabilization equipment. In order for your broadcast to look and feel like a professional production, you need at least some basic lighting equipment, a tripod or other stabilization device and external mics for Facebook Live.
- Production/switching software or hardware. To switch between multiple camera feeds and/or to incorporate captions, on-screen graphics, green-effects and more, you’ll need production/switching equipment. This can be as basic as a laptop running software such as Wirecast, or as advanced as a master control room equipped with a production-quality switching system, such as the Grass Valley Kayenne.
- A hardware or software encoder. Using an encoder will help you create a stream that adheres to Facebook Live’s specific requirements. You can use either a hardware encoder, such as the Wowza ClearCaster™ appliance, or a software encoder (e.g., Wirecast). Facebook recommends using hardware whenever possible; it provides a more reliable connection, so your stream won’t buffer or drop, and delivers higher-quality video to the platform.
Guidelines and Requirements for Facebook Live Streaming
The Facebook Live platform has very specific audio and video configurations that must be met, or streaming simply won’t work. Here are the guidelines and requirements you must follow when streaming audio and video content:
Facebook Live File Formats:
- Maximum 720p (1280×720) resolution at 30 frames per second, with one key frame every two seconds.
- Must send an I-frame (keyframe) at least once every two seconds throughout the stream.
- Recommended maximum bitrate is 4 Mbps. You can go above this maximum, but it will make your live streams highly unstable.
- Changing resolution midstream will negatively impact on the broadcast.
- If titles are over 255 characters, the stream will fail.
- H.264 encoded video and AAC encoded audio only.
Facebook Live Video Length:
- 4 hour maximum length for live or preview streams. For preview streams, a new stream key must be generated after 240 minutes.
- RTMP stream URLs expire 24 hours after creation.
Facebook Live Advanced Audio Settings:
- Audio Sample Rate: 48 KHz
- Audio Bitrate: 128 Kbps mono
- Audio Codec: AAC
Advanced Video Settings:
- Pixel Aspect Ratio: Square
- Frame Types: Progressive Scan
- Bitrate Encoding: CBR
- Video Codec: H264
Many encoders require manual configuration to achieve these settings, which introduces the possibility for human error. What’s more, you can’t use the same encoder settings to broadcast to multiple live-streaming platforms simultaneously, such as Facebook Live and YouTube Live, because each ingests video differently. Our guide provides the workaround for this common Facebook Live problem.
This is just a preview of what we’ll cover in our comprehensive guide. Ready to learn all there is to know about creating Facebook Live videos that boost engagement and reach, and build a professional image for your brand? Download The Wowza Ultimate Guide to Facebook Live Streaming today!