Facebook Live is a great option if you’re looking to expand your brand’s exposure online and improve your customer engagement.
Broadcasts have been doubling year-on-year since the feature was launched in 2016, and it now has a daily viewership of some 8 billion worldwide. Clocking up more than 100 million hours of daily watch time, it offers the biggest and most engaged audience of any video platform, including YouTube.
But getting it wrong can alienate your audience and damage your reputation for good.
If you don't want to fail at Facebook Live, then here are some common errors to avoid, along with tips to help.
Fail: Be unclear in your heading and description
When you’re setting up your live broadcast, Facebook gives you the option to add a heading and description. This is your chance, not only to get your video found online, but also to encourage more views.
Top tip: Use language that makes your video seem imperative to watch, and make it resonate with your target audience. Don’t use industry jargon.
Fail: Make it short
One of the benefits of Facebook Live is that it offers a long time limit - a mighty four hours. Now, I’m not suggesting you make your live posts a full four hours long, but your Facebook audience won’t be expecting short snippets of footage from you, so make sure you don’t cut off prematurely.
Top tip: Ideally, you want to make your live stream at least 10 minutes long. The longer you’re live, the more discoverable your stream will become.
Fail: Use it as a sales pitch
Facebook Live audiences are not looking for a sales pitch. It’s a social medium, so they’re tuning in to find out more about you, not to get sold to.
Top tip: Take some time to consider the goal of your live stream. What do you want to convey and how do you want your audience to respond? Use it to engage people with your brand, not to hard-sell.
Fail: Include long awkward pauses
Facebook Live audiences can be fleeting - they might tune in to see what you have to say, but can just as easily click away if they don’t feel engaged. It’s your job to keep up the momentum, and keep talking to the topic at hand.
Top tip: The key to making your live video seem effortless is to prepare well in advance, and practice until perfect. If necessary, have some cue cards with you to avoid getting flustered, but avoid reading from a script.
Remember to keep on message, and include a call-to-action. What do you want your viewers to do once they’ve seen your live video?
Fail: Make it low-quality
To create a decent Facebook Live broadcast, you don’t need all the kit, and you don’t have to be a cinematography professional. Having said that, a poor-quality video will run the risk of damaging your brand.
Top tips: The first thing is your camera. Most smartphone cameras stand up to live-streaming, but if not, you can pick up compact camcorders for a reasonable price.
Secondly, a tripod or similar will help steady your camera. There’s nothing more annoying than a shaky picture.
Other things to consider are the audio and lighting.
Make sure you’re in a quiet space. If there’s more than one of you speaking then you may want to invest in external microphones.
Then there’s lighting. Make sure your subject is well-lit, whether that be from natural light or lamps.
Fail: Alienate your audience
When Facebook Live is done well it can encourage a two-way engagement between you and your audience via the comments feed.
It takes a bit of multitasking to respond to live questions as you’re concentrating filming, but if you ignore your audience interactions, then you risk not only missing out on the opportunity to engage but losing fans along the way.
Top tip: Look at the camera when you’re speaking, as if to talk directly to each of your followers. And when people comment, answer them by name.
Practice answering questions before you go live by setting a practice stream to display to only your colleague(s). Ask them to fire likely questions or comments at you so you can get used to responding directly to them.
Fail: Drop out/ start buffering
Your internet connection is crucial to how well your live stream goes down. Relying on 4G is probably not worth the risk, but a standard broadband connection should suffice.
Top tip: Do a practice run - click on “only me” before you go live and see if you experience any buffering. If you do, then it’s probably best to hardwire your connection rather than rely on remote internet access.
Fail: Broadcast to nobody
You’ve put in the work to provide a great piece of live content for your audience. Then you click to 'go live', and you have zero audience. Either you’ve failed to let them know it’s happening, or you’ve timed it badly and they’re all asleep.
Top tip: Make sure you promote your live stream well in advance. You might even offer incentives for people to watch it.
You should promote your stream on Facebook (you can set up a Facebook Events page especially for your live video) and on your other social media feeds. You can also send reminders to your followers via your Facebook Page to prompt them further.
Be clear about the date and time of your stream, and when you do go live, be sure to stick to these exact times so that you don’t keep your fans waiting.
Facebook Page Insights can also help you to determine your optimal time to go live. Find the day and time with the highest page views and aim to go live then.
Fail: Finish the stream and forget about it
Once you’ve finished your live broadcast, it’s tempting to forget about it and move on to your next task.
However, the video will remain on your Facebook Page until you decide to take it down. This can be a great thing or a disaster, depending on how your live broadcast went.
Top tip: If your live stream was a disaster, then take it down quickly.
If it was a success, then showcase it. Write a post to wrap up what you’ve just broadcast, and thank everyone for tuning in. Then share the video across your other social media channels.
Facebook Live is a top choice for brands wanting to increase their engagement and expand their brand awareness online. And what’s more, it doesn’t take a great deal of expertise to pull off.
However, there are pitfalls to be aware of, and falling into these could seriously harm your brand.
Looking like you don’t know what you’re doing, rambling off topic, or using it to 'sell sell sell', are all things that could rub your audience the wrong way. Similarly, not rising to the occasion and engaging with your audience in real time is a missed opportunity.
Avoid these pitfalls, however, and you could see your engagement soar. Test which of your live broadcasts do best, then tweak your strategy as you go to get the most out of Facebook Live.