Facebook Live can be a useful tool for businesses looking to better engage with their audience on the world's biggest social media platform. Here's how to use it.
Facebook: You already use it for ad campaigns and customer data. But did you know you can also use it for live video streams? That’s thanks to Facebook Live, which can drive your company’s engagement with its customers – and that’s not all. Below, learn all about how to use Facebook Live for business.
What is Facebook Live?
Facebook Live is a Facebook feature launched in April 2016 which allows users to film and stream live video footage. If your company has a Facebook page, you can use Facebook Live to broadcast real-time video from your smartphone, laptop or tablet to your company’s followers. As with all Facebook content, if you create a Facebook Live video, you can determine who within your audience – and outside it – can see it.
How does Facebook Live benefit businesses?
Facebook Live is great for business since real-time video streams can make your viewers feel like they’re getting an exclusive first look at your company’s everyday happenings. Live videos are a unique way to give your viewers a front-row seat to a fun moment not everyone immediately sees. In this way, Facebook Live can help to foster brand loyalty and customer relationships.
Through Facebook Live, you can also reach a massive audience at no extra cost. It’s a growing audience too: from 2016 to 2018, the search volume for “Facebook live stream” grew 330%. Additionally, in 2017, the daily watch time across all Facebook Live videos grew by 400%. These statistics make clear that Facebook Live isn’t just a tool for targeting your current customers – with an audience this large and engaged, you can easily find new customers.
How to use Facebook Live
If these Facebook Live figures have you intrigued, then you might feel compelled to try Facebook Live right this moment. Below, we’ll walk you through the basics of how to use Facebook Live, and after that, we’ll explain some Facebook Live best practices.
1. Open Facebook’s camera.
To access Facebook’s camera, you have two options. If you’re on a smartphone or tablet, you can load your Facebook app and click on the camera in the top left. If you’re on desktop, you can load your company’s Facebook page, scroll down to the “Create Post” tool, then click “Live” from the “Create” bar below this section.
2. Allow camera access if asked.
Depending on your previous Facebook usage, you may need to give Facebook permission to access your camera. Doing so is easy: You’ll automatically get a pop-up notification on your smartphone or tablet screen. If you’re on desktop, this notification will instead appear in the top left corner of your web browser. Once you give Facebook camera access, you’re ready to start filming – but before that, you need to set up Facebook Live.
3. Enter Live mode.
Now that Facebook has access to your camera, you might be tempted to start filming immediately, but don’t jump the gun. Facebook’s default is not live video. Instead, you’ll need to switch your camera to Live mode. You can do so using the mode names below the large white camera button at the bottom of your screen. Tap “Live” from among these options, and then get ready to shoot.
4. Make some final pre-shoot tweaks.
Before you start filming, you should set your video up to reach your target audience and engage your viewers. Here’s how you do that:
Earlier, we mentioned that you can control who sees your content. You should take this step before you start filming. In the top left, you should see a tool that says “Public,” “Friends” or something similar. Tap the word or phrase you see, then choose from among the audience options. Next to this word or phrase, you can also choose whether you want your live video to appear later as a Facebook profile post or story.
If you were to jump right from entering Facebook Live to filming your live video, Facebook would post your content with no description – and without a description, your content will struggle to engage viewers. That’s why you should write a short but exciting live video description where Facebook Live says “Tap to add a description” above the “Start Live Video” button.
If your video involves influencers or other brands, tag them before you start filming. Use the symbol directly to the right of “Tap to add a description” to do so. To the right of this symbol is a location marker through which you can geotag your live video too. A video with brand or personal tags and geotags is far easier for users to find – and for the tagged entities to share – after your live stream ends.
Live videos often appear at the top of Facebook news feeds in the Stories section, where only a thumbnail preview of the video is available. Other times, live videos appear in the news feed itself, where it will be muted at first even if you’re currently streaming. Given these placement challenges, your engagement and viewership may increase if you add compelling visuals such as text, filters, drawings and other graphics to your video before filming.
5. Choose the right camera direction
For certain live videos, if you’re filming from a mobile device, you might want to switch back and forth between yourself and what you’re filming. You can do so using the camera icon in the top right corner. Each time you tap this icon, your camera will switch between your front-facing camera and your rear-facing camera.
6. Start filming
Once you’re ready to start filming, click “Start Live Video” and get to it! You’ll see a short countdown before you go live, and after this countdown ends, you’ll officially be live – but you’re still not done.
7. Watch your comments and reactions
By the very nature of Facebook Live videos, viewers will comment and react in real-time. To drive engagement, build brand loyalty and develop customer relationships, you should respond to comments as they come in. Of course, doing so is tougher when you’re holding a mobile device in your hands and trying to get a stable shot. That’s why it never hurts to have another person signed into your account when you’re filming – we’ll discuss this more later.
8. Wrap it up
Once you’re done with your broadcast, simply click “Finish” to end it. You should also post and save your video to preserve it. Post it using the “Post” button, and download it using the small icon that resembles an arrow entering a rectangle. At this point, you’re done with your live video – and you’ve probably realized that you can easily do this again whenever you want.
Tips and best practices for using Facebook Live for business
Now that you’re ready to try Facebook Live, here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Pick a date and time
Seeing the word “Live” in the name Facebook Live might have you thinking that Facebook Live should be used solely for fully spontaneous video shoots. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, you should alert your audience in advance that you’ll be streaming live video at a certain date and time from a certain place. If your viewers know you’ll be filming, they’ll know exactly when to tune in to see your video before anyone else does.
This first-glimpse tease can be effective since not every Facebook page posts its live videos to its profile or story immediately when filming ends. We mentioned earlier that you can download your video once your stream ends – you always have the option to do so, then enhance it with professional video editing, then upload it later.
A first-glimpse tease can also reach more people if you preview it on your other social media pages. Your Twitter and Instagram followers, for example, might not know to head to your Facebook page at 7:30 pm next Thursday for your live-streamed interview with an industry titan unless you alert them to the big event. And speaking of events, creating a Facebook event page for your live stream never hurts – it can provide context about your stream in advance.
2. Make sure viewers know what they’re watching
With a prerecorded video, your viewers likely watch from the beginning. With a live stream, your viewers might jump in at any moment. That’s why you should constantly provide context during your video, but you should do so in ways that fit with your dialogue instead of feeling forced.
For example, if you’re interviewing someone for your live stream, it doesn’t make much sense to randomly say, “Oh, by the way, you’re watching my brand’s interview with this person.” You can follow your interviewee’s answer with what you’d normally say and use the following to transition to your next question: “When we host live-streamed industry interviews here at my brand…”
Reminding your viewers of what they’re watching can be easier if you’re bouncing between installments at an event. If you’ve ever watched someone interview celebrities walking the red carpet, then you’ve seen this principle in action – every time the host turns to the camera and says, “We’re here at the red carpet for this event,” that’s the host making sure the viewers know what’s up. And that brings up another important point:
3. Regularly interact with your viewers
A unique feature of live streams is that your viewers can leave comments and reactions in real-time. Whereas brands that have posted complete, final videos directly to Facebook may not immediately be available to respond to comments, when you live stream, your company is actively using the platform, and you should show it.
Of course, interacting with your viewers can help you forge meaningful relationships with them – interacting with brands can be fun, and having questions answered can feel validating. You should also reply to comments quickly because, as the number of comments on your live stream increases, so too does your stream’s relevancy score. The higher your stream’s relevancy score, the higher the stream will appear on users’ news feeds.
4. Don’t go it alone
Having to regularly interact with your viewers brings up another concern: How can you respond to comments in real-time and focus on filming? Well, you probably can’t. That’s why, during live streams, you should task another team member with handling your company’s interactions with commenters.
As you’re live streaming, have someone on your team – not the person holding your camera – at a computer ready to rapidly respond to comments as they’re left on your stream. These interactions are paramount for developing authentic relationships, and it’s also helpful for keeping your viewers around since they’re less likely to stop streaming before your brand’s conversation with them ends.
5. Keep your viewers around
If you’ve ever read about what makes a good video, you’ve probably encountered the idea that shorter videos are better. For live streams, the opposite can be true. When people tune in to a live stream, they arrive with the expectation that you’re documenting something interesting, and most interesting things last more than just a short while. For better engagement on Facebook Live for your business, shoot for longer live streams.
6. Hold explicit marketing until the end
When it is eventually time to end your video, that’s your chance to explicitly promote your company or insert a call to action. Don’t do it earlier – pushing your company in the midst of an exciting live stream can feel forced and unnatural, which is exactly the opposite of good marketing. Wait until the end since your viewers are likely fully immersed with your video by then, so they might be more in the zone and receptive to marketing pitches.
You also don’t need to go in-depth with data or facts as you might in a formal marketing pitch. Your task is simple: Just go with the classic “If you enjoyed this video, make sure to like, comment and subscribe” outro. If you sell products related to what you’ve streamed, you can also add a gentle product mention or push at the end. Should you go that route, keep it brief but pointed. And then, move on to another important aspect of your video’s outro.
7. Preview your next Facebook Live video
Although part of Facebook Live’s success is the spontaneity often associated with it, setting a date and time for your streams is an important step. If you know when your next live stream will be, the end of your video is a perfect time to mention it. Got an event coming up next week? An exciting interview you’re broadcasting with a fellow innovator? Let your viewers know.
After your promotional call to action, you should tell your viewers that they’re in for another great stream soon. Saying something like, “And don’t forget, next Tuesday, we’re hosting this live stream” and then briefly detailing your stream will do the trick.
Once you talk about your next live stream, you’re ready to end your current live stream. However, your video ending isn’t the end of your journey with how to use Facebook Live.
8. Don’t forget about analytics
Now that you’ve successfully created a Facebook Live video, you should analyze it to inform your approach for your next video. With Facebook Business Manager and the analytics it provides, you can do exactly that, though you may need to wait for several days after your video ends to receive accurate data.
Through Facebook Business Manager, you can see the number of people who watched your live stream and glean additional information about your video’s reach, click rate, audience retention and engagement. The last two of these metrics are especially useful: Audience retention identifies when people stopped watching your video, and engagement details how many likes, comments and shares your video received.
With information about the most interesting parts of your video, how large your audience is and how much they reacted to your video, you can think about what to do differently next time. If your audience lost interest a few questions into a live-streamed interview, you might want to ask fewer questions. On the other hand, if your likes, comments and shares increased every time your interviewee spoke, your audience might really like your interviews, so film more of them.
How else to use Facebook for Business
Now that you know how to use Facebook Live for business, you might want to learn about other helpful Facebook for Business tools. We have plenty of resources on this front, and here are just a handful to start:
- The Business Value of Facebook
- The Most Common Facebook Advertising Mistakes
- Running a Facebook Contest? 9 Steps to Success
- The Survival Guide to the Decline of Facebook’s Organic Reach
- How to Host a Successful Q&A on Facebook Live