Live streaming first gained momentum when Periscope launched in March of 2015, and by that fall I was ready to hop on the bandwagon. An app that allowed me to connect with my audience and broadcast video content live?! Sign me up!
Live Streaming: Periscope vs. Facebook Live
I hit the ground running, and I was pretty gung-ho about it out of the gate. Things were going really well… until I launched our 31 Days of Living Well Zero Challenge in October, which in addition to posting multiple times a day on Facebook & Instagram, had me live streaming for 31 days straight. By the end of that challenge, I was so exhausted, I never wanted to hear the words “live streaming” again! I completely burned myself out, and once those 31 days were over, my Periscope app remained untouched on my phone, never to be used again.
I thought I was done with live streaming, but when Facebook Live launched later that year, I found myself curious and interested to try it out. However, we were in the middle of moving, life was insanely busy and, being fresh off the Periscope Challenge burnout episode, I wasn’t in the right mindset to get started.
Of course, as it got more and more popular, my social media manager became more and more eager to try it. She took a class on it and was adamant that this was going to be the next big thing. So finally, after she’d done quite a bit of begging, pleading, and convincing, I agreed to give it a shot.
So we did it. And it was awesome. Right off the bat, I liked it a lot more than I liked Periscope. Periscope always felt very overwhelming and manic — there were all these comments coming in super fast and I felt like I had to rush, which wasn’t a great fit for me since I already talk super fast. But the Facebook Live format was way less frantic, and I felt like I could talk in a slower, more normal way.
I also loved that I already had a base on Facebook. So from the first time I did a video, I had an audience on my Facebook page, unlike Periscope, where I started from zero. Immediately, I felt like I had a great connection with the audience. This amazing opportunity to be genuine and connect face-to-face with my readers was really what I liked best about it.
Now I wish I could say I’ve been completely diligent about broadcasting on regular schedule, but the reality is that I’m just not there yet. That said, I think right now it is one of the most amazing opportunities on social media for bloggers right now.
Is Facebook Live Right for You?
If you’re thinking of hopping on the Facebook Live train, now is a great time to do it. Facebook is doing a huge push for Facebook Live right now (their advertisements are everywhere!), and they’re really looking to promote it and get people to use the live feature regularly. Because they want to promote it, Facebook Live videos are getting the most engagement. So, if you’re looking to build organic engagement with your audience, Facebook Live is the best way to do it.
And even if you don’t get many people tuned in live to your video, Facebook will still promote it later, so more eyes will see the video even after you’ve finished. You can also boost the post, which is not only super affordable, but also a great way to increase your reach and get your video in front of even more people.
You can go live on your own page, but you can also do it inside your Facebook groups, which is a great way to get in front of new people. We’re actually starting a Facebook group for Elite Blog Academy, which I’m super excited about. We’ve never done a Facebook group before, but it’s going to be a great place for me to connect with all my students. And instead of doing our Q+A through GoToWebinar, which you have to register for and is kind of a pain in the neck, I’ll just be able to broadcast to the entire group over Facebook Live.
So clearly, Facebook Live is an amazing tool for reaching your audience, but to use it well you really have to be ready to put yourself out there. It’s an awesome way to connect with your audience and let them see your personality, face-to-face, but if you’re camera shy, you will need to get over that hump. Live video can be nerve-wracking for a lot of people, so if you find your palms sweating when you think about going live, you’re not alone!
But just like the best way to get over your fear of writing — and become a better writer — is to write, the best way to get over your fear of video — and become more comfortable on camera — is to just make videos. The more videos you make, the better you’ll get!
Back in 2010 or 2011, when I was really focused on couponing, I decided that I wanted to experiment with video. So I created a YouTube channel and started a series called “Extreme Couponing for Normal People”. When I look back at those first videos, I cringe. They were so bad. Really, just terrible. I was visibly nervous, I said “uhh” or “uhm” every five seconds, and the whole thing was just awkward. The YouTube trolls had a field day on those videos! But the more videos I made, the more confident I got in my ability to be on camera.
After about a year of making videos (and dealing with troll comments), I got the opportunity to do a live segment on our local news channel. Before making all those YouTube videos, there was no way I would have said yes! I would have been terrified to be live on camera. But because I had built that confidence and felt comfortable in front of the camera, I said yes.
And guess what? That one live appearance went so well, they asked me to do a regular live segment, and I was the on-air money-saving expert for two and a half years. Which never would have happened if I hadn’t made those terrible YouTube videos.
So the moral of the story is this: even if you’re scared of being on camera, go for it. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll feel. For many people, it’s much easier to connect to video than it is to writing, so adding that extra depth and an element where people can really connect with you in a meaningful way is super powerful.
How to Create Great Facebook Live Videos
So now that you’re convinced that you should do Facebook Live videos, how do you go about making it great?
Tip #1: Let People Know When You’re Going Live
If you want people to show up to your Facebook Live, you’ve got to let them know when it’s happening! Promote your video ahead of time across all your social media channels. Create an event and invite your audience. Afterward, post a link to your video on your social media channels and in your newsletter so people who didn’t make it live can catch it later.
Tip #2: Don’t Wing It
You may be tempted to go off the cuff on Facebook Live, but I highly recommend using an outline, especially if you’re nervous. Even though I’ve done a lot of videos, I still use an outline to help me avoid rambling and stay on topic.
Your outline doesn’t have to be crazy detailed. I usually just include reminders to welcome people and ask where they’re from. Having that interactive portion at the beginning of the video gets people involved and engaged, and the more comments, the more exposure.
Then I map out a few bullet points to make sure I cover everything I want to say.
Now, if you’re one of those people who does really well speaking off the cuff and scripting things on the fly, more power to you! But if you’re just starting out, I highly suggest you use an outline until you get more comfortable.
Tip #3: Addressing Audience Questions/Comments
One of the best — and worst — parts about Facebook Live is the audience interaction. On one hand, it’s great because it gives you a chance to interact with your audience in real time. On the other hand, it’s tough because the questions and comments can be distracting, but you need to address them.
There are a few different ways to do this. Some people wait until the end, and then go back to read through and address the comments and questions. However, I think it is more personal when you’re interacting in real time; it feels more like talking to the audience instead of talking at them. But obviously, this presents challenges.
For example, there are 650,000 followers on the Living Well, Spending Less Facebook page, so questions and comments can be overwhelming. You’ll have to use your best judgment and figure out what works best for you.
On the flip side, if you don’t have any live viewers, you can still encourage comments. The first time I went live on Elite Blog Academy, no one was there live. So I mentioned that if they were catching the video after we were live, they could still leave comments. That way, the audience felt like they could still take part even if they weren’t watching live.
Tip #4: Know Where to Place the Camera
When you’re filming a Facebook Live, you want to make sure that the camera is in the right place. I bought a little tripod from Amazon that I attach to my phone, which keeps the picture steady.
Good lighting is also super important. If possible, try to film in a place that has a lot of natural light. If it’s dark or the lighting where you’re filming isn’t the best, attach a mini LED light to your tripod. That will illuminate your face and make your video quality much better.
Tip #5: Discover Your Own Perfect Length
One question I often get when it comes to Facebook Live videos is “How long should they be?” Honestly, there’s no secret formula that will tell you exactly how long your videos should be to have the most impact.
In my experience, I’ve found that 15-minute videos work best for my audience. But that doesn’t mean that they will suit you. It’s all a matter of experimenting to find that sweet spot that works best for you and your audience.
For example, I have a friend who’s doing super well with her Facebook Live videos. She goes really in depth on all of her topics, and they’re about an hour long. I don’t have the patience for that, but she’s found that it works well for her and her audience.
On the flip side, I have another friend who’s a beauty blogger and does super short, five-minute Facebook Live videos that she enjoys and her audience loves. So it’s really about experimenting and figuring out what the best fit is for you and your audience.
I know this is a lot of information to absorb, but the most important thing to remember is that if you’re going to do Facebook Live, have fun with it! Get on camera and be yourself. Facebook Live is a great way to add value to your community and to build that personal connection, but don’t let it become a source of stress. Just go out there, have fun, and start filming! You’ll never know until you try it!
And you have tried it, I’m curious to hear your thoughts! What have you learned so far about what works and what doesn’t? Do you have any tips to share? Post them in the comments below!