How to Host an Engaging Facebook Live Video Stream

With Local Author, Speaklife Shawnie

February 17, 2020
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On this episode of JMatt’s Social Club, we take a look at what goes into hosting an engaging Facebook Live video stream with the local author (“For the Life of Me”) and motivational speaker, Speaklife Shawnie (@iamspeaklife on Facebook), who has been leveraging video streams to feature community leaders since 2017.

Shawnie got her start with Speaklife Magazine, interviewing upcoming professionals and entrepreneurs which eventually evolved into conducting the interviews via Facebook Live on a weekly basis.

She also hosts Facebook lives for the Milwauke Community Journal once a month and will be adding MKE Table Talk about twice a month.

As Shawnie says, “people gravitate to video” and is a big reason she found herself drawn toward Facebook Live content. She finds it important to put messages out there about Milwaukee and believes our city has a story to tell.

Related: Catch up on all episode's of JMatt's Social Club!

Facebook Live also allows the viewer to see the person behind the social media content, it’s an opportunity for them to relate to you and to get people interested in what you have to offer.

When it comes to figuring out what’s best for your brand, live vs pre-recorded, it really comes down to your social media goals. As always, if you have the capacity to do so, test it out. Check the analytics from going live consistently vs posting edited videos consistently. What resonates most with your audience and where is the engagement highest?

One way to repurpose previously aired Facebook Lives is to create a Watch Party. For example, Shawnie likes to take a past interview and host a watch party on that guest’s birthday. It’s a great way to refresh the content and invites new interactions, live during the screening.

People love consistency, whenever possible, try to plan out a schedule for your Facebook Live video streams to land on the same date and time of the week. Such as the first and third Saturday or weekly at noon on Thursdays. Remember, with live video streams, just because someone can’t make the initial recording, they can go back and watch the episode when they have time. Shawnie’s suggestion is to set a time that works best for you, the host.

Related: How to Stand Out on TikTok with Unique Content (Episode 3)

It’s important not to get discouraged with how many people are tuning in during the live recording, that number will grow through consistency. With Facebook Lives, the content can gain hundreds and thousands of views over time.

One major difference between live video streaming and pre-edited video is the engagement you can get from an interactive audience. During Facebook Live, viewers can jump in with questions and have them answered right there, at the moment. As a host, you can feel the excitement and helps to drive more unique content before the broadcast ends.

Currently, you are able to pre-schedule your Facebook Lives a week prior to your pre-determined broadcast time. This feature allows those that RSVP to be notified when you’re about to go live and puts viewers into a room, waiting for the stream to begin, so you as the host can ‘Go Live’ with viewers watching from the start.

A common mistake that people make when video streaming is ‘going live’ and then just sitting there. Just because you’re going live, doesn’t automatically mean it’s going to blow up. Talk about something your followers want to hear about or something you’re passionate about – have a reason to go live, before your stream even begins.

Related: Using Instagram Hashtags to Improve Your Reach and Discoverability (Episode 2)

When going Live, don’t ignore the viewer! When someone new joins, welcome them by name and inviting them to engage. Also, look at the camera (to the viewer, it feels like you’re looking at them and addressing them directly) and avoid looking at yourself (it looks weird).

If you’re someone that considers themself to be ‘camera shy’ or uncomfortable on camera, know that it gets easier the more you do it. As the old saying goes, ‘practice makes perfect’. Eventually going live will come naturally.

Putting together a format or structure of how you’re going to do things will help too (think about your intro, your topic, and how you’d like to exit out). It also can’t hurt to over-plan, have more topics to bring up than you think you’ll need, just in case. It’s awkward as a host to run out of things to talk about, but imagine the viewer who will also feel uncomfortable watching!

Two best practices for Facebook Live that can’t go overlooked are lighting and audio! The viewer will be quickly turned off by a setting that is too dim (hard to see the host/guests) or if it’s too bright and everything is washed out. Background noise (or wind) can quickly become distracting and audio that is hard to hear can both lead your viewers to tune out.

One trick for getting the audio levels right (and boosting engagement from the start) is to ask the viewers to let you know how everything sounds. You can also do this for the visuals by asking “can you see me, am I frozen”?

Related: 2020 Social Media Trends (Episode 1)

Another pro tip is to broadcast from your smartphone and monitor the live-stream with a laptop – in an ideal world, you have a partner that watches off-camera that can respond in real-time or pass you a question on a piece of paper. But so many of us don’t have that second person, monitoring as you go and ‘checking for questions’ on your own will work too.

Before going live, consider what’s happening in the background. If you’re in public, are there people that could walk by (especially those that may not want to be on camera)? As for a closed-off space, what’s on the walls or is the room in need of being tidied up? Think about what you can do to make what’s ‘on camera’ more appealing to the viewer.

Whenever possible, use natural light - sit in front of a big window! You can also consider using a ring light, there are many different sizes to consider, depending on your budget.

Now, when the live broadcast comes to an end, your job as the host isn’t quite done. One thing you need to do is share it. Tell people that missed the video stream that it’s available to watch! Share it to your personal profile, in Facebook groups, repurpose it for YouTube and any other video sharing platforms that your target audience spends time on.

You can also download Facebook Live videos afterward and cut it into micro-content that you can share out as a way to encourage people to watch the full video. Spread that word of mouth to get people back to the content you worked hard on producing!

That covers it for Facebook Live! I would love to see your video broadcasts feel free to DM me on social media with a link and let me know the next time you plan to go live.

JMatt’s Social Club is a RADIO.COM podcast through 103.7 KISS-FM where we take a deeper dive into social media strategies with Milwaukee-area professionals. If you’d like us to cover a specific topic or invite someone to be on a future episode, reach out to JMatt on social media at @JMattMke (same handle on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok)!

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