Secrets to hosting a successful Facebook Live stream

Nicole Wretham, Social Media Coordinator

In this blog series, a member of the Khoros Strategic Services team dives into a topic they have helped many enterprise brands with, sharing insights and best practices. Khoros Strategic Services has deep expertise in community management, paid social, analytics, and content, and they're ready to help your brand.

Stay-at-home measures this year have challenged businesses across the world to quickly adapt to a new normal, and the learning curve has been steep. But lockdowns and forced closures have also opened up new digital opportunities for brands: for example, in just a few short months, the time people spend watching Facebook Live has quadrupled.

Live streams offer connection and shared experience even during social distancing. They are also an excellent way to grow brand recognition, expand reach, and stay connected to customers. Whether you’re new to Facebook Live or looking to refine your skills, the following best practices will help you plan, host, and monitor a successful Facebook Live for your business.

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Why go Live on Facebook?

Live broadcasts allow you to connect with your audience on a personal, authentic level by showing your customers the real, caring people behind your business. Lives can also help you realize business objectives and intentions by creating the opportunity to:

Use Facebook Live features to improve viewer experience

Exciting new Facebook features now offer multiple ways for brands to go Live, and you can adjust the format depending on your content and business objectives. However you choose to go Live, be sure to follow a consistent, predictable schedule to help grow a dedicated following and create excitement.

Here are the features to keep in mind when you’re planning your Facebook Live:

Regular Live stream

  • Regular Live streaming is the original Live video feature, and it’s available on both desktop and mobile. Pages Manager App makes going Live easier than ever.
  • Going Live on desktop allows you to use a streaming software and a separate camera and microphone to maximize video and audio quality.
  • You can go Live on-the-go using a phone that has the Facebook App installed. Find out how to go Live directly from your mobile device here.

Scheduled Live stream

  • Live streams can be scheduled up to one week in advance using Facebook Live Producer. Once your Live has been scheduled, an announcement post will be published to your Page, letting your followers know about your upcoming broadcast.
  • At the scheduled time of the Live broadcast, a second post containing the Live stream will be automatically published to your Page.
  • You can learn more about scheduling a Live here.

Premiere feature

  • The Premiere feature is similar to a scheduled Live stream, but it allows you to share pre-recorded videos as Live moments on your Page — a great option for people who are nervous to get in front of the camera in real-time.
  • Much like Scheduled Lives, Premiere Lives automatically post an announcement to your Page, and allow your followers to receive notifications when the broadcast goes live. There will also be a second post with a broadcast lobby that starts a countdown three minutes before the start of the Live.
  • Check your eligibility for Premieres and learn how to schedule a Premiere here.

Planning your Live

Once you’ve chosen which Facebook Live feature(s) to use, the next step is to start planning your stream, Here’s how to get started.

1. Choose your content

Content that your audience wants and needs will perform better than content that is irrelevant to them. A great way to find out what your audience wants is by asking them directly, with a poll. You can use the results to curate relevant Live content that your audience is more likely to engage with.

  • Decide what style of Live you’re going to create. Use Facebook features such as Premiere and pre-record your Live content, add slides, etc.

2. Set video specifications

Before you broadcast a Live stream on Facebook, you’ll need to make sure that your video meets the following specifications:

  • Maximum resolution: 720p (1280 x 720) at 30 frames per second
  • Keyframe: GOP of two seconds or keyframe every two seconds
  • Recommended max. bit rate: 4000 Kbps
  • Titles: must be less than 255 characters
  • Live API: H264 encoded video and AAC encoded audio only
  • Length: eight-hour maximum

You can find more information about audio format and advanced settings here.

3. Prepare resources in advance

Once your Live content is planned out, pull together a list of resources to post periodically throughout the Live, including:

  1. A pinned welcome comment inviting viewers to leave questions in the comments section.
  2. Relevant resources for slides — aim for one every four to five slides so as not to overwhelm your audience.
  3. Resources that the presenter is going to mention.
  4. An actionable sign-off.

4. Prepare back up comments

Viewer engagement can fluctuate from Live to Live, so it’s important to be prepared in case your viewers aren’t interacting much. Sometimes seeing just one comment or question can be enough to encourage your audience to engage.

Consider preparing some relevant questions and responses that a member of your team can post, if needed, to give your viewers the confidence to engage.

  • Tip: make sure that your chosen team member isn’t an Admin of your Page/Group as this will show next to their name when they post a comment.

During your Live

The stream is all planned and the big day is here! Here’s what to do next.

Have your team on hand to moderate

No matter how you decide to go Live on Facebook, having a team to cover all bases will help things run smoothly. Your team will be able to help you manage incoming comments from viewers, post resources in the comments, and hide comments as necessary.

Communication between your team is key, particularly when volume is high. Use a group chat or call so that team members can share questions that need replies, brainstorm responses, and send priority updates.

Here are some best practices for moderating your Live:

  • Have members of your team moderate the comments section and relay relevant comments and questions to the host to address during the Live video.
  • If you’re hosting a regular Live stream, call out your commenters by name; this will help them feel special, build a connection, and make your Live feel like a two-way conversation.
  • To optimize efficiency, have a team member focused on each of these responsibilities:
    • Sharing some of the best and most relevant questions from audience members (if you’re hosting a live Q&A session).
    • Publishing your prepared resources and replying to viewer questions as your business Page.
    • Drafting and publishing answers to viewer’s questions and including relevant links.
    • Hiding extreme or inappropriate comments.

After your Live

A successful Facebook Live isn’t over when the cameras stop rolling. The most successful brands follow up to support viewers and promote their content even after the event is over.

Answer remaining questions

You may have been able to answer all of your viewers’ questions in real-time during your Live, but chances are you’ll have some comments to respond to once your Live is over. If you are saving your Live as an in-feed Post on your Page, be sure to keep an eye on it for at least a few days afterward to avoid missing comments and questions.

Boost your Live

You can use Ads Manager to promote your Live both during the broadcast and afterward. Doing so will allow you to incorporate your Live into your marketing strategy and expand your reach to a wider, more relevant audience. Learn more about boosting a Live video from your Facebook Page here.

Crosspost your Live

If you manage multiple Pages or Groups on Facebook, or have established a crossposting relationship with another Page, you can cross-post your content to other Pages, allowing you to boost views and engagement by reaching a wider audience.

Live crossposting allows you and another Page to post videos on each other’s behalf. Crossposting can only happen between Pages that have added each other. You control which videos are eligible to be crossposted. When a Page crossposts your videos, they will also be able to view video insights for their posts. Learn how to establish crossposting relationships here. Learn more about crossposting Live content to multiple Pages here.

Some final words of wisdom: embrace the imperfections and unpredictability of Facebook Live broadcasts. No matter how well you prepare your content and responses things can go wrong (just like in real life), but it’s all part of the Live experience and, believe it or not, those off-script moments are often what draws audiences to Lives. So, embrace them as helping to show your audience the authentic, real people behind your business.

Good luck!

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