Facebook Live Streaming – How-To Guide

INTRODUCTION

Lots of our clients now choose Facebook Live streaming as their main (or only) platform. No wonder, when Facebook users collectively make up what could be called the biggest audience in the world. Facebook has essentially made ‘going live’ mainstream and proven how powerful live video can be. According to research gathered by Hootsuite in this article Facebook Live Video: The Complete Guide to Live-Streaming for Business.

WHY SHOULD I USE FACEBOOK LIVE? 

  • One in five Facebook users watches Facebook Live.
  • People comment 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos.
  • The average time people spend watching Live videos is more than three times longer than a video that isn’t live.

Stats like these coupled with how easy Facebook live makes it too promote, share and comment on a broadcast makes using it to promote your event a bit of a no-brainer, although there are always considerations in terms of audience profile and production values etc. But generally speaking, the huge potential reach of live streamed events is being proven again and again by all kinds of organizations, not just the biggest brands and broadcasters.

PRODUCTION BASICS

Before you even think about using Facebook live streaming you need to get the production specification right. Here are the basics a few tips on scoping out a venue to integrate AV and live stream production for an event such as a conference, panel discussion or presentation. This is just a quick recap – you can read our basic requirements guide here. 

  • Camera. Don’t use a webcam or a phone.  Webcams are just awful for so many reasons. Phone cameras are marginally better but then you need to provision sound – phone microphones are fine if you’re speaking directly into them – not for covering a room.  You can start with just one, broadcast standard camera and an operator that know’s what they’re doing.
  • Audio.  Crisp, professionally produced audio essential. Poor sound makes good video unwatchable.  Sound provision is often an afterthought so don’t forget to think about this upfront. If you’re working in a venue, do they have an AV system and sound technicians on site?
  • Connectivity. A solid internet line that is not shared with anyone else will make for a reliable stream. Get some info from your chosen venue on what’s available and make sure the line is tested well in advance. Backup bonded LTE connections are more of an essential
  • Graphics. Add graphics to your stream to let the audience know you’re about to go live, include Twitter hashtags or speaker names on the video itself.

There’s a lot to think about so make sure you leave plenty of time for production prep, rehearsals and testing!

ENCODING

Once your production is all set you need to get your pictures and sound into a format Facebook Live streaming understands. You do this using an encoder. These can be software or hardware based. We’ve written a roundup of the options in a previous article. There are a ton of options but they largely all do the same thing. Hardware encoders are generally more expensive but mean you can do without a computer – there’s even a dedicated Facebook Live streaming device (ClearCaster by Wowza). Software encoders need a Mac or PC with an ingest/capture device so you can plug your camera and microphone feed in.

Facebook Live’s  current suggests using the following encoding profile:

Recommended maximum bit rate is 4000 Kbps (4 mbps).
A maximum resolution of 720p (1280 x 720) at 30 frames per second.
A keyframe must be sent at least every 2 seconds throughout the stream (so if you’re encoding at 30fps use a keyframe every 60 frames).
Titles must have fewer than 255 characters or the stream will fail.
H264 encoded video and AAC encoded audio only.

PROMOTION & SCHEDULING

You may have a huge team of social media experts who are much better placed than us to advise on your event promotion. If not, a good place to start is by taking a look at a new development that allows all ‘Pages’ on Facebook to schedule videos from the Live API via Publishing Tools. Facebook says “Scheduling live video makes it easier to build anticipation and buzz with your audience before your broadcast begins, so you can start strong with an audience already assembled,”. There’s a great blog post on Techcrunch about this and links through to the Live Blog with detailed steps to follow to set up scheduled live video posts.

PITFALLS, GOTCHA’S & GO-TO-KNOW

Facebook Live (And YouTube Live) have copyright restriction algorithms. If you’re playing out copyrighted music as part of the broadcast this needs to be cleared in advance. We’ve seen plenty of live streams stopped because someone forgot the clear the walk-up music.

Facebook Live can be viewed even if you’re not logged into Facebook itself.

Facebook videos aren’t indexed by search engines, so you can’t just Google the event name. They can be actually quite hard to find on Facebook itself!

There are restrictions on the length of time you can stream for. These change from time-to-time so if your event is long – check beforehand.

Facebook Live streaming doesn’t allow for any kind of secure access so it’s not an option for any sensitive business communications or content that needs to be restricted.

Some organisations still don’t want people on Facebook despite the burgeoning success of Facebook Workplace (check out our post on the potential of Facebook Live for Internal Comms).

Go live on time. No one will wait. Assume every 1 minute you make your audience wait you’ll lose 50% of the audience.