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Stepping up Your Facebook Live Through Third-Party Apps/Software

Facebook Live is great…in theory.

That is, until you’re filming and realize people watching the Live video are probably getting motion sickness from your blurry video and constant shaking. Facebook Live sometimes looks amateurish, and that’s okay because we know our audience enjoys authentic and genuine content. But we still want the videos to appear professional and branded. It’s a strug.

In January, I was approached by one of our equine reproduction veterinarians –the BEST, in my opinion– to do three Facebook Live presentations about foaling for the CSU Equine Reproduction Laboratory audience. Of course I wanted to do it. But I wanted to step up my Facebook Live game first.

Here’s what I did.

I asked our resident tech genius Chase to help me find a third-party app/software that can help with our Facebook Live game. And he delivered. He found a program called Switcher Studio that’s being used by huge brands like HuffPost, BBC Sport, and Honda. It’s pretty sweet. Basically, it allows a user to become a producer of Facebook Live through their phone or iPad during a Facebook Live video. Four additional cameras can be synched to the producer’s screen, allowing the producer to choose from many different shots/angles. You can add photos, videos, graphics and lower thirds to any live video with the touch of a button. See GIF below.

The app itself is incredibly easy to navigate. I am not a tech-savvy person. I usually need someone to teach me how to use technology before I can ever use it, but I was able to figure out Switcher Studio pretty quickly on my own (and with the help of Switcher Studio video tutorials). While it is easy to use, there’s a price to pay. Twelve months = $300. There are other third-party apps out there that are free. But if you use Facebook Live a lot and if it’s an important part of your social media strategy, I suggest investing in the technology.

GIF from Switcher Studio’s website

I hosted the three Facebook Live presentations and the Equine Reproduction Laboratory saw great results:

  • The videos reached 50,000 people
  • Everyone who viewed the video watched a combined total of 18,000 minutes (or 300 hours)
  • The Equine Reproduction Laboratory Facebook page gained almost 300 new page likes during the week of the three Facebook Live videos

But, I was using a new technology. There were some mistakes and lessons I learned through the experience. Here they are 👇

Disclaimer: I used Switcher Studio on the two-week trial so I could try it before paying for something I had never used. This means, I learned how to use it FAST. AKA: I am in no way an expert, nor did I use all of Switcher Studio’s features. These are just a few takeaways after using Switcher Studio for nine days.

Audio

If you’re using multiple cameras, always know where the audio is being picked up.

For the three Facebook Live videos the presenter Dr. Pat McCue was using a PowerPoint presentation, so I used two cameras: my front-facing camera on my laptop and the screen sharing camera. The audio on Switcher Studio defaulted to my phone (the device I was directing the Facebook Live from), instead of picking up the audio from my laptop.

For the first Facebook Live video, I had no idea the audio was being picked up from my phone, so the audio quality is not very solid. You can also hear everything I was doing, including sliding my phone on the table and writing on paper (CRINGE). When I tested out Switcher Studio prior to the Live video, my phone was always right in front of me (and my laptop), so I didn’t realize the app was pulling audio from my phone and not my laptop.

By the third Facebook Live video I hooked a lapel mic to Dr. McCue’s shirt and the audio sounded much, much better.

Another tip: Use a gimbal when filming on your phone. We use these for our Facebook Live videos on CSU’s Facebook page and it makes ALL the difference.  

Screen freezing

I’m not sure why this happened, but it did. If anyone reading this knows the answer, PLEASE let me know!

If you read any of the comments on the first Facebook Live video, you’ll see most of them refer to slides freezing. His actual slides didn’t freeze — my screen-sharing camera did. I have no idea why it froze, but I fixed it by disconnecting and reconnecting the camera while we were still live.

Just before starting the second Facebook Live video, the front-facing camera froze on Dr. McCue’s face. I disconnected/reconnected, and luckily there were no other freezing issues during the second or third Live videos.

Some theories:

  • I know on Google+ Hangouts if someone accidentally taps their face on their screen the live Hangout will freeze on their face instead of changing cameras based on the audio levels. Maybe I accidentally pressed something that caused the camera to freeze.
  • The WiFi was a little sketchy. It could have had something to do with connectivity.

Do Not Disturb

This tip is short and sweet. Turn off all notifications, texts, and calls on your phone, laptop and tablet.

Yes, I received a phone call in the middle of the first Facebook Live video, and yes it disrupted the video 😑

Linking cameras

It was tricky getting my phone to recognize my laptop’s cameras. The app is supposed to find cameras also on the same wifi connection, but even while I tested Switcher Studio on a good WiFi signal, I had to manually connect my computer and other phones to my Switcher Studio app. It’s pretty intuitive when connecting phone-to-phone (connecting by entering the rlcc that pops up on the phone). Here’s how to find the rlcc on your laptop:

  • Download Switcher Cast to your computer
  • When you’re ready to connect your computer to your phone, open Switcher Cast
  • It will bring up your computer’s available video sources, and the rlcc for each
  • Manually enter the rlcc

Intro video and lower thirds

Switcher Studio is powerful, and I definitely didn’t utilize it to its full capacity, but I was able to sneak in a couple “extras” to make the Live videos feel a little more #fancy.

I created a short, 10-second intro video for each of the three Facebook Live videos. I think it helped with branding consistency and made the Facebook Live videos feel a little more professional.

We also used Switcher Studio’s lower-third feature for the same reason 👆

Know your audience

I have to give a huge shoutout to Rachel Yager (above), the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences assistant director of communications. I originally planned to host the three Facebook Live videos on CSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital page, but she recommended we host them on the Equine Reproduction Laboratory’s Facebook page since the videos were so specific to horse reproduction. She was right. The Live videos were beyond successful all because we hosted them on the page that had fans who wanted to learn this information.

I also have to give it up to Lindsay Bass at the Equine Reproduction Laboratory. She and Rachel and a few other people sent an email to more than 3,000 clients to let them know about the upcoming Facebook Live videos. Marketing is important.

It definitely takes a village to host a Facebook Live, and I can’t take all the credit. Thank you to everyone, including Dr. McCue, for making it #work.