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Colleague Q&A: Tips For Facebook Live

Unless this is your first time reading the #CSUSocial blog, you’ll know that we are very transparent about sharing our social strategies, best practices, and yes, even fails with other social media professionals and our higher education colleagues. Often times, we receive emails from these colleagues asking how we approach ‘this’ or ‘that’ and we do our best to share our experiences. We certainly don’t have all the answers, but we’ll do our best to try. So, here’s the first of a series you may see more of: Colleague Q&A. Have questions of your own? All you have to do is ask.

Recently we received an email from a #HESM friend from a university in Georgia who wanted to know more about certain strategies behind how we approach Facebook Live videos. Here’s what she wanted to know:

Q1:

After receiving an influx of Facebook Live requests from departments and organizations on her campus, she was interested in learning how #CSUSocial has a policy on determining which campus partners to feature via Facebook Live on CSU’s flagship Facebook page.

A1:

First of all, don’t panic. You can only do so much.

We do not have an official policy on this, however, #CSUSocial works closely with the university’s Social Media Committee to identify Facebook Live opportunities for the main CSU account. Members of the Social Media Committee are also excellent resources for consultations with departments across campus. One thing we have committed to is featuring work from each of our eight colleges a couple of times a year on CSU’s main account. This way, we can plan ahead with these campus partners to allow them an opportunity to showcase something important to them on our main page. Plus, this is a great way to promote the exciting research that’s happening on campus, these tend to be excellent Facebook Live opportunities. If you can give your campus partners designated opportunities, you can start to create a more structured path for your content. But ask yourself: is this content relevant to your main audience? If not, what kinds of research, programs or projects would your main audience like to see? Then help your campus partners identify ways of sharing info that will be mutually beneficial to you both. Unfortunately, not every request can be accommodated or may not align with your university’s main FB page’s strategy, and in that case, it’s ok to say no.

Q2:

How does #CSUSocial decide when to host a Facebook Live on CSU’s main account vs. having a specific college or unit host it on their own page?

A2:

You Get to Decide animated GIF

Good news, you get to decide!

We’ve found Facebook Live works well in showcasing seminal events, new buildings/facilities, campus experiences, and behind-the-scenes moments that are otherwise mostly inaccessible to regular folks. Live events typically do not perform well on CSU’s main account, so we try avoid those and to stick to interesting science demonstrations, campus building tours (especially new buildings on campus) and personal experiences. If the content that our campus partners want to showcase in a Live video meets these criteria, we are happy to feature them on our page. It’s really all about knowing what your audience likes, and knowing what performs best on your page. Also, we do not actively monitor CSU affiliate accounts. Administrators of those pages are ultimately responsible for them.

Q3:

Do you have any tips for producing a successful Facebook Live video?

Thumbs Up animated GIF

A3:

Of course we do!

TIP #1: Identify Your Best Live Opportunities

Once a Live opportunity is identified using our strategy above, we work with the communication lead in that department/college to figure out the best way to film the live video. Typically we ask them to find a “host” who can be the front man or woman or student. The host should be someone well versed in the work that’s being done by your campus partners. For us, these have been students, professors, researchers, and communications professionals. Here are a few examples:

When a professor gave us a tour of CSU’s Crab Lab:

https://www.facebook.com/coloradostateuniversity/videos/10160378487760615/

 

When CSU researchers showed us what they are doing with mosquito research:

We’re touring the lab of CSU researchers who dissect mosquito midguts to learn more about preventing the transmission of dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever from mosquitos to humans.

Posted by Colorado State University on Friday, February 16, 2018

 

When we toured CSU’s newest building, the Warner College of Natural Resources:

https://www.facebook.com/coloradostateuniversity/videos/457724798037384/

 

TIP #2: Plan a Physical Walkthrough

Always plan a walkthrough of the space the day before or a couple of days before your live event. This is very important in ensuring you have good lighting, the environment is right for sound (not too loud, or busy). Plus it helps set up the flow of your shots so it feels smooth to your audience.

TIP #3: Expect the Unexpected

No, this isn’t just a Big Brother reference (although #CSUSocial is known for loving some Big Brother on CBS). If you watched the third example I showed above, the tour, you’ll see that we did encounter some technical difficulties. WIFI is almost always the biggest culprit, so be sure you’re in a good spot with a strong signal. We discovered on this tour that it is a terrible idea to go into a cement stairwell, the wifi cut out, and we didn’t think of that ahead of time. But, I guess you could also say that part of the allure of live video is the gritty realness of it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

TIP #4: Speaking of a Strong Signal…

Check to make sure that you have a strong signal before going live. WiFi tends to work best, but if you can’t find a nearby network, you’ll want a 4G connection. If you have a weak signal, the ‘Go Live’ button will be grayed out.

TIP #5: Let Your Audience Know You’re Going Live Ahead of Time

By letting your audience know that something exciting is coming, it can build anticipation for your Live video. We’ve found that tweeting about it the morning of the event, or with one day’s notice, gives our audience the right amount of time to tune in.

TIP #6: Write Your Post Text Before Hand

A great description will capture people’s attention and help them understand what your broadcast is about. But don’t stress yourself out by composing this brilliant text right before your Live event, write it when you’re still in the office and save it to the notes on your phone.

TIP #7: Monitor, Comment and Engage

If possible, have a teammate or colleague monitor the Live event for you in case there are any unseen troubles or glitches. This person should also be actively commenting and engaging with Live viewers in the thread. And hey, speak to your fans by using their first names. Your audience will appreciate that you’ve personalized the moment.

TIP #8: Find Your Sweet Spot

Time is an important factor in planning your Facebook Live.  If it’s too short, you may not be giving your audience enough time to settle in. If it’s too long, your audience may lose interest and move on. Facebook suggests that longer broadcasts help reach more people because the longer you broadcast, the more likely people are to discover and share your video with their friends on Facebook. We recommend that you go live for at least 10 minutes although you can stay Live for up to 4 hours at a time. Plus, after hitting the “Go Live” button, be sure to wait 3-5 seconds before your host starts speaking. This also allows a little extra time for people to tune in.

TIP #9: Consider using a video production app that allows multiple camera angles

We use a third-party app/software called Switcher Studio. By utilizing third-party apps like this, you can create title and end cards, and lower third descriptions to use during your Live video. You can read all about it by clicking HERE. 

TIP #10: Use a closing line to signal the end of the broadcast

Be sure to have your host finish with a closing line, like “Thanks for watching!” or “I’ll be going live again soon.” After you’ve wrapped up, wait a few seconds until you hear the “ping” indicating your broadcast is complete.

More Resources

Want to learn more about #CSUSocial’s strategy behind Facebook Live? Check out some of these topics we have blogged about:

3 Ways to Make Science Social

4 Ways to Boost Facebook Engagement

5 Tips for Creating Conversations on Facebook without Engagement Baiting

6 Tips for Using Facebook Live for the First Time

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

FOMO & Dopamine: Why Facebook Live is Thriving