Facebook Live has been riding an upward trajectory of popularity since it rolled out back in 2016. By now, more than 2 billion people have watched a broadcast, with more than 3.5 billion broadcasts made since 2016 and the daily average doubling (or more) every year. Broadcasts from verified pages have jumped more than 50 percent over last year, and competing “live broadcast” features from other apps and tech companies continue to emerge to get a slice of the pie.
There’s no doubt that Facebook Live is a powerful channel—but merely adding it to your list of strategies isn’t enough to guarantee your success.
How to Be Successful on Facebook Live
Let’s talk about the most important tips you’ll need to be successful on Facebook Live.
1. Have a strategy.
Why are you using Facebook Live? Why is this better than any other medium? What are you hoping to achieve? What would you consider to be a “success”? If you don’t have answers for these questions, you have work to do. Streaming a video and thinking it’s going to magically improve your brand reputation won’t get you anywhere; you should draft an outline of your key motivations and goals, as well as your strengths and weaknesses, before you get started.
2. Know your target audience.
As an extension of that core strategy, you should know your target audience, and what they’re going to expect from the streams they encounter. Do these people watch streams because they want to be informed? Because they’re looking for teases and sneak previews? Or because they like to feel like they’re “in the moment” with their favorite personalities and brands? This motivation can help you choose the right approach.
3. Announce your streams in advance (with some exceptions).
For the most part, it’s a good idea to announce your streams way in advance, building hype around the event and making sure people clear their schedules for it. Depending on the topic and your audience, this could be days to weeks in advance. The only exception here is if the stream is supposed to be a surprise—but last-minute announcements only work if you already have a dedicated Live audience.
Facebook is going to be your primary channel for Live streams, but don’t neglect the other channels in your arsenal. Cross-promote your stream on other social media channels, in your email blasts, and through whichever other marketing channels work for your brand.
5. Time your streams properly.
You’ll see better or worse results based on the time you choose to begin your stream. Unfortunately, there’s no universal “right” time to stream. Much is going to depend on your target audience. For example, teenagers might be best targeted Sunday afternoons, while busy professionals are best to target on weekdays, right around lunchtime.
6. Have a unique tone or personality.
What’s going to make your stream different from your competitors? People are going to stop watching you if you look and sound like everyone else, so you should have a unique tone or personality as a “hook” to keep people watching. Choose a charismatic host, and make sure they have a look, sound, or presence that distinguishes them from other streamers.
7. Look professional.
Make sure the people in your video look professional. That doesn’t necessarily mean they should be dressed up in business formal attire, but they should be well-groomed, look refreshed, and resonate with confidence and enthusiasm.
8. Invest in decent equipment.
You don’t need to invest thousands of dollars in equipment to have a successful stream, but relying on shaky, muffled footage from a few-generations-old smartphone isn’t a good way to attract more viewers, either. Invest in a decent camera, a decent mic, and a tripod at minimum—especially if you plan on doing more streams in the future.
9. Get rid of distractions.
If you want your audience to focus, it’s best to eliminate as many other distractions as possible. That’s why you’ll see a lot of Live interviews or monologues taking place in front of a blank screen, or an empty, single-colored wall. Too much movement or activity in the background with compromise your effectiveness.
10. Pay attention to comments.
People comment on Live videos 10 times more frequently than they do with non-live videos, and it’s a fantastic way to engage with your audience. Read comments live on the air and respond to them if you can, or have someone on the sidelines catching up on those comments and responding by typing. This is both a learning opportunity and an opportunity to make those people feel heard and seen.
11. Use mid-stream announcements to catch people up.
Viewers won’t always start your stream from the beginning; some will jump in several minutes (or hours) in. Accordingly, you should periodically offer “catch up” messages, briefly explaining who you are and what you’re doing for people who missed your first offer of context.
12. Always offer the full video later.
People watch Live videos three times longer than other videos on Facebook, but that doesn’t mean traditional videos don’t have value. If you can, make the entire live stream available for people who missed it, uploading it on YouTube, or splitting it into bite-sized chunks so people can see some of the best moments from your stream.
13. Analyze and improve.
Last but not least, take the time to analyze your results, form conclusions, and use those conclusions to produce and promote better work in the future. For example, if you notice your viewership drop off when you switched to an interview segment, you can reliably ascertain your audience isn’t interested in interviews—and you can leave them off the schedule in the future.
The Technical Challenges of Running a Live Stream
Complete with a Facebook Live Checklist
Setting up for the best possible Facebook Live stream can seem like a daunting task. There’s a lot to take in. Not to mention the technical aspects of streaming: getting the right equipment and setting it up for the best possible show.
Which is why we set out to uncover all the nitty-gritty technical details you need to know before pressing “Live. Not only that but we created a simple checklist you can print and use to make sure you’re prepared for every Live Stream. You can see it for yourself, for free, by heading to our Facebook Live Sales Guide. We hope it helps and would love to hear what you think!
Doing research and prep work in advance can help you achieve better results, but don’t fall into a trap of analysis paralysis, either. One of the reasons Facebook Live is so popular is because it feels real, sincere, and in the moment, so don’t compromise that appeal by being over-rehearsed, or fail to ever get started because you aren’t sure about what you’re doing. The best way to learn is through experience, so invest in the right equipment, nail down a blueprint for your strategy, and get started.