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Lights, Camera, Action! Going LIVE on Facebook and Instagram


Live video tools within social media channels have been some of the more engaging and impactful new tools of the past few years. But for brands using them successfully, there is typically a methodology.

Of course you might think you’re ready to go LIVE on Facebook or Instagram, but before you hit that button, there’s a number of considerations:

  • Promote, promote, promote: There’s a reason television networks run hundreds of promos for shows prior to their airing. If you want viewers, you have to encourage them to want to come watch your video – before it runs. If you’re planning a big event that will air for more than 5-10 minutes, you may want to talk about going live a week before and send out sporadic reminders on multiple social channels. At the very least, send out teasers a day or so before you post.
  • Where to promote: In a pill, through whatever social channels you use. You can send out multiple tweets, post a message and pin it on Facebook, or make a teaser video or image for Instagram. Whichever method you chose, make sure you promote it well.
  • Wifi and data connections matter. Nobody wants to watch a choppy video. It’s like watching TV back in the day with rabbit ears (that was a thing and it sucked).
  • Monitor noise levels: If the area where you plan to shoot is loud, this will make it hard for your followers to hear you talk about what’s going on (unless you’ve invested in a high tech noise-canceling microphone). Moderate is better but not perfect. If you’ll be doing a lot of speaking or want someone to listen — the less noise the better. Quiet or limited noise are obviously the best conditions, especially when trying to talk to your audience during the broadcast.
  • Lighting is important: Just like sound, if you’re in a dimly lit or dark place your audience won’t be able to see anything you’re posting (unless there’s really great pyrotechnics like at a Motley Crue show). Make sure the lighting allows for a good contrast of shadow and light. Avoid being backlit by bright sunlight (think about driving into the sunset — it sucks for the viewer).
  • Have a steady hand: Whether you’ve had too much caffeine to keep a steady hand or you’ll be filming a longer piece – tripods are your best bet. After all, you don’t want to make your audience sea sick. Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon, Target or any appliance store all sell adaptors and tripods. You want your video to be solid as a rock.
  • How far away is too far: Remember in “The Blair Witch Project” (that was another thing), when the girl had the camera all up her nose with snot running it down it and was crying. Ugh, not good. Don’t be like her. Usually 5-10 ft works well for social media live accounts for sound and images. Any further away you lose the sound quality and pick-up more background noise.
  • Frame the narrative: You have an interested audience that’s waiting to see what you’ve got, but before the curtains open, write an interesting description about what’s going on. Include the five Ws and one H: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. Make sure it’s fun and catchy so folks who missed your teasers still want to find out what’s going on.

OK, enough with the lecture on the dos and don’ts. It’s time for the action. If you have all of these steps managed, you’re ready. Hit the LIVE button and say hello to my little friend (that’s another thing, from “Scarface.”)

You’ll notice lots of things going on during your live feed. Folks will engage with it and you’ll see a variety of icons popping up all over the place. Don’t worry — that’s normal. It’s just your audience showing you love. Some people may even comment during your feed if they have questions or just want to talk. It’s okay to comment back. BUT….be careful not to move your phone around too much and impact the ongoing broadcast.

All good? Boom! Success! You’ve made it through your first LIVE video. Congrats! On Instagram take a quick look at how many folks engaged, write it down, or snap a pic. Why, you ask? Instagram LIVE is like SnapChat and it doesn’t last long. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. Facebook, on the other hand, can stick around, but you’ve got to click the POST button (if you don’t it disappears). Once you have it one your page you can edit the post, make comments and keep engaging with people.

So now that you know how to have a successful live video I send you forth to create more videos and share more stories. Good luck!

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