How To: Create A Facebook Live Poll Video

Last month, I wrote about Facebook Live and why it is thriving. Things like anticipation and the fear of missing out drive people to watch and interact with live content. But there’s another trend floating around that uses Facebook’s Live video platform in a different yet equally effective manner: Voting polls. I typically see brands present their follower base with a series of at least two items and a request for people to “cast a vote” by using the reaction associated with that item.

We tested this out by asking people to let us know their favorite season on the Oval by casting a vote with a reaction. One thing to bear in mind is the connotations associated with the reactions. For this example, we only used like, love, haha, and wow. Having someone vote for their favorite season by clicking the cry face just wouldn’t make sense. Below is the results (including the seven folks who apparently just don’t dig the Oval at all).

It was clear to me that this new form of using live video worked, based on the results. Likes and loves are the two most common reactions we receive on our page, but this result was different. The reactions coincided with popular belief around here — fall and summer on the Oval are top notch. Knowing that this worked, we now knew our audience was receptive to the idea of interacting with content in a non-typical way. The best part? These polls are engagement monsters.

Let’s take a look at how this can be done.

1. Download OBS Studio

I’ve done the research, and this is the program to use. OBS stands for Open Broadcaster Software, and it’s responsible for the live streaming component in a case like this where you won’t be filming live from a camera. Essentially, you point OBS in the direction of the digital asset (graphic, video file, etc.) that you want to be streamed through Facebook, and the program works in tandem with Facebook to produce a live stream of your visual. Here’s a link to the free program.

2. Develop The Asset

There’s really two ways you can go here: a graphic or a video. Either way, the content should be formatted in proper video dimensions. I’d recommend the standard 1920 x 1080. The above example was a video file (because I wanted the reaction icons to bounce and the winter section to have animated snow falling), so I created the asset in Adobe After Effects.

Note: Creating a live poll with real-time tallies of voting results is beyond the scope of this post — something to do with local servers, a PHP script, and an API.

3. Prepare The Stream

Now that you’re ready to stream, you’ll need to visit your Facebook Page and also open the OBS program.

  • Navigate to your Facebook Page’s dashboard:
    • Click on the Publishing Tools tab.
    • Click on Videos (left side of page).
    • Click Videos (top right).

  • On the next page, copy the “stream key” that your Facebook Page provides (below left).
  • Go to OBS and click on Settings > Stream.
  • Select Facebook Live from the Service dropdown.
  • Paste your Stream Key in OBS (below right).

  • In OBS, search for the Sources section and double click on Media Source.
  • Find the file you created for the live stream and select it. This tells OBS which content to display during the stream.
  • Still in OBS, click on Settings > Video.
  • Choose the settings that match your video settings (resolution, FPS).
  • Close Settings, select Start Streaming.

4. Begin The Stream

  • When you feel like you’re ready to stream, click on the Preview Button in the bottom right of the Facebook “Create Live Video” popup. Your preview will look like the below image, where you can prepare your post text, add a title and tags, and make sure that OBS is displaying your content properly.

  • If everything looks correct, hit Go Live!

One final note is that Facebook Live videos max out at a duration of four hours. This is plenty of time to let the poll run its course, but I’d recommend checking on the video throughout the four-hour period to make sure things are still operating smoothly.