HomeBlogThe Ridiculously Awesome Guide to Facebook Live

The Ridiculously Awesome Guide to Facebook Live

Author: Margot Whitney
Last Updated: November 29, 2023 | Marketing Ideas, Social Media

I can still remember rushing home from high school to watch TRL. For those of you unfamiliar, TRL (Total Request Live) was a live broadcast from MTV studio in Times Square, where the one and only Carson Daly would count down the 10 most popular music videos in the country. I was so impressed by the fact that Carson and his guests were able to appear so calm, cool, and collected on LIVE television!

facebook live guide

No, this post is not about my long-time obsession with TRL, but rather a new live video trend for marketers: Facebook Live.

Nowadays live video is popular not just for large broadcasting networks, but also for small businesses. With live video becoming a trendy (and effective!) tool for digital marketers, this guide will teach you everything you need to know to grow your audience with Facebook Live.

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What is Facebook Live?

Facebook Live is a live video streaming feature on Facebook that allows you to broadcast a live video out to your audience through your company page or personal profile. Facebook Live was released in April of 2016, and while many marketers are still getting their heads around it, the ones who are using it seem to be reaping the benefits.

how to use facebook live

Once a Facebook Live video is created it will reside on your page or profile for viewers who missed the live event to view. Videos are eligible to show up in an individual’s news feed during the live event, as well as after the event has ended. Yet, the chances of seeing a video while it’s live are now higher since Facebook has updated their ranking algorithm to show more live videos that are streaming in real-time.

Businesses using Facebook live on their pages have the ability to customize and control their audience once it has ended. Page followers and visitors may get a notification when a page or individual is going live.

Why (and How) You Should Use Facebook Live

By now, you have likely heard how effective video marketing is, but did you know Facebook Live videos receive 3X higher engagement than a video that is no longer live? Facebook Live videos also receive 5X more than standard photo posts, according to AdWeek.

Whether you’re trying to raise brand awareness, get more leads in the door, or increase interactions with your current customers, Facebook Live is a tool you should be using. Below are five ways you should be using Facebook Live in your marketing campaigns:

#1: To Connect with Your Audience in the Most Genuine, Human Way Possible

Do you ever feel like your audience sees you as a corporate, stuffy robot? Well, there couldn’t be a better way to connect with your followers and potential customers than live video. It’s essentially like meeting your customers in person, since the event is happening “face to face” and in real time. Facebook Live gives you a chance to show there are real, caring humans behind your business, which in turn builds trust and leads to more business in the door.

#2: To Answer Questions in Real Time

Interacting with your followers doesn’t have to be limited to when you happen to be checking back in on your company Facebook page. Facebook Live allows you to answer your followers’ questions in real-time. This gives you an opportunity to engage with viewers when they’re most interested.

The best strategy to do this effectively is to create a recurring series. Sephora provides a great example with their “Scouted by Sephora” series, where they share information around less well-known makeup products, and answer questions as they come up.

facebook live examples

To nail this strategy, be consistent with the time and day of week you go live, feature hosts that aren’t afraid to show off their personalities, and ensure you have someone at the ready to monitor questions so you can answer them either in real-time in the comments or in the actual broadcast itself.

#3: To Showcase an Event to People Who Couldn’t Attend In Real Life

Facebook Live is a great way to broadcast events and connect with your customers or leads who weren’t able to attend. Perhaps you have a guest speaker come into your office or your CEO is speaking at a local event. As long as you have a strong internet connection and the permissions to stream the event live, you should absolutely do it!

A small marketing agency headquartered in Sarasota, FL does a great job at promoting and streaming their live events. Check out the post below where they broadcasted a guest speaker from HubSpot to ensure those who weren’t able to attend in person could still get value out of her workshop on email marketing.

using facebook live for events

#4: To Share Industry-Related Updates

Keeping your audience informed on industry trends without being overly sales-focused is a much more natural way to build trusted followers on Facebook. People will start turning to you as their go-to source to stay informed on industry news, and you’ll build a loyal and engaged following.

Take social media management tool Hootsuite as a solid example. Hootsuite started a series called #HootLive where they broadcast the latest social media news Live on their feed.

hootsuite facebook live video

Hootsuite’s #HootLive series shows their audience that they care about keeping them informed and sharing their knowledge, while being able to engage and answer their questions in real time.

#5: To Show Off Your Company Culture

Facebook Live is the ideal opportunity to show off the unique personalities and values behind your company, whether it be strolling around the office and showing off your space, interviewing employees, or sharing a sneak peek into a company outing or event. Sharing your culture with your audience has so many long-term benefits whether it be for recruiting new hires, or getting new followers interested in your genuine brand.

At Wistia, we’ve found that sharing our culture with our audience has been one of the most beneficial ways to grow the business and build brand advocates. Below, check out how our social team is using Live Video to give our audience a sneak peek behind one of our video shoots. The comments really say it all.

company culture videos

This strategy worked particularly well because it was not only showing off our culture, but it’s also relevant to the product, and helps give video creators an inside look into how we do things at Wistia.

How Do I Get Started with Facebook Live?

Now that you’ve got some inspiration, it’s time to get the wheels turning with Facebook Live. The good news is that it’s quite simple to create your first live video. All you need is a mobile device or desktop computer that has a solid camera or webcam and microphone.

Here are 5 easy steps to get started:

Step #1: Select the “Live Video Button”

If you’re on a mobile device or going live from your Facebook profile rather than a Facebook company page, a small button will appear when drafting a post that says “Live Video.” Select it to get started!

facebook live how to

If you’re going live from a Facebook page on your desktop, you’ll see a box that says “Live Video” below the post box, like the one below.

facebook live tips

Step #2: Write a Click-Worthy Description

Your description and video thumbnail are by the far the most important pieces of your video. Without compelling copy to entice your viewers, your live video isn’t going to get much if any traction.

When writing your copy, ensure it’s direct, actionable, and informative, with a hint of mystery to spark curiosity in your viewers.

facebook live video description

For additional tips on writing click-worthy headlines, check out this post on 9 Tips for Writing Great Headlines in 2017.

great facebook copy

Step #3: Get in Position & Hit “Go Live!”

Put on your finest ball-gown, and style your hair! Or you can go the more casual, authentic route (recommended) like the image of me below working from my parents’ dining room (I swear my hand is not that large in real life).

facebook live video for brands

PRO TIP: If you’re filming a recurring series like the examples above from Hootsuite and Sephora, try to maintain an air of consistency. While you don’t necessarily need to wear the same outfit in every episode, use the same “set” and set up your camera in the same place and distance away from the episode hosts in each post. It may also be worth looking into purchasing an external microphone to improve sound.

Step #4: Click “Finish” Once Your Post is Done

Be aware of where the “finish” button is (at the bottom of the page) so you can give a proper sign-off.

guide to using facebook live

Step #5: Post Your Live Video on Your Page & Make Any Desired Edits

Once you’re no longer live, your video can still live on for fashionably late viewers to enjoy. Share your video on your page, and make any edits you need to the description, thumbnail, add caption, etc.!

edit facebook live video

16 Facebook Live Best Practices

Aside from the obvious tips, like having a strong and dependable internet connection, you may be curious how else you can set your Facebook Live video on the path to video viewing success.

Here are 16 easy tips to improve your Facebook Live video recording, leading to more eyes on your content.

#1: Face a Window!

Far too often I see these awful video recordings that are glaringly bright and hard to focus on because the star of the video has their back to a window, like the image below. Yikes!

Facing a window will give you a beautiful source of natural light, and make you appear clear in your video frame. Just check out the difference in the before and after photos below.

helpful tips for live video

Video with my back to a window

tips for great looking video

Video facing a window

PRO TIP: Remove your glasses when filming! They pick up additional glare, which can be distracting.

#2: Film Horizontally on Your Mobile Device

Mobile filmers have the natural urge to film vertically since this is just how you’re used to using your phone, but flipping your phone to a horizontal view yields a much nicer sized video. Horizontal videos look better all around, especially when displayed on the news feed.

how to get live video right

PRO TIP: On mobile, you can also use that little edit button in the top left hand corner to add a beautiful filter and enhance the frame even more.

#3: Create a Few Practice Videos on Your Profile Page

Before ripping the bandaid off and going live, you should test things out by creating a practice video restricted to your eyes only. You can do this by going to your own Facebook profile, and selecting “Only Me” before recording.

practicing for facebook live

This will allow you to “get loose” and comfortable on the camera. It will also help ensure the lighting and sound are up to your standards. For example, I can tell from the post below that I did not take my own advice from tip #1.

facebook live help

#4: Get Personal

The beauty of Facebook Live is that it allows you to share your experiences in real time, and make a more human connection with your audience. Take this a step further by sharing some bits of your life to connect with your audience on a more personal level.

No, you don’t need to give away your social security number or dive into the details of your messy breakup, but share something positive from your life, like the example from Plated below.

In this Facebook Live plated video Michelle, Plated’s Test Kitchen Manager, cooked a special recipe with her dad for Father’s Day.

facebook live best practices

This is such a nice way of sharing a part of Michelle’s world that a lot of her viewers can likely relate to, and seeing the connection between her and her father definitely evokes positive emotions from viewers.

#5: Smile, and Be Properly Caffeinated!

At Wistia, we film a LOT of videos in house, and one tip always provided by our video producers is to bring energy and speak with a smile. This is something critical to remember when filming Facebook Live videos because you only have one take once you’re live!

Listening to a monotone, unfriendly voice selling a product will put everyone in the audience to sleep. On the other hand, watching a video of an individual with an energetic and friendly demeanor will evoke positive feelings in your viewers and keep them hooked. Speak with a smile, wake up with some caffeine, and most importantly, be yourself.

#6: Embrace Small Mistakes

So you stuttered on a word multiple times? Or maybe you had one piece of hair that was sticking up the entire time? Perhaps you burnt a piece of toast on your Facebook Live cooking show?

With live video, these mishaps are bound to happen, and these things are actually what makes live video so much fun. Rather than getting embarrassed and ending the video mid-way through, embrace your mishaps. Make fun of your hair, and laugh at the fact that you’re a professional chef that always burns toast! This will add personality to your video, and also help your audience see that you’re a real human, with flaws, just like them!

#7: Ask Your Viewers to Interact

You’re likely aware that posts with more likes, comments, shares, and views are prioritized on the news feed. Facebook’s algorithms recognize popular content, and actually make it even more popular without the advertiser needing to pay extra for more eyes.

don't talk to me

Don’t be like this

Interaction on your videos also gives them a vote of authority, and provides new viewers with confidence that they’re not wasting their time on snooze-worthy content. To gain more interaction encourage it from your viewers! During the broadcast ask questions, and then ask your viewers to reply in the comments. Ask them to like and share the post. Perhaps even run a live contest asking them to like, share and comment on the post to be entered into a free giveaway raffle.

#8: Have Someone Monitor Comments and Feed You Questions

With Facebook Live it can be hard to host your video and reply to comments at the same time, which is why you should have a colleague answering your comments in text form, and prompting you to answer the most relevant questions during the actual broadcast.

“One of the most amazing opportunities Facebook Live offers is the ability to engage with your followers,” says Christine Austin from IMPACT. “With reactions, comments, and viewer numbers shown in real-time, you can prompt responses by asking and answering questions in your broadcast.”

#9: Call Out Your Commenters by Name

When answering questions over your broadcast make sure you call out the user by their first name. This helps build even more of a connection, and will make them feel special that you chose to answer their question live.

#10: Give an Actionable Sign-Off

The worst thing you can do is just casually push the finish button and then walk away. Rather, give a proper sign-off with an actual ending for next steps.

After the broadcast, what do you want your viewers to do? Subscribe to your live video channel? Visit your Facebook page for a discount code? Share the recording on their page? Whatever it may be, be sure to end your Facebook Live post with something actionable for your viewers to do.

Here’s a great sign-off example from Refinery29 where they restate their names, thank viewers for tuning in, and encourage them to check out their “very cool shoes” using the link at the bottom of the video.

call to action on facebook live

#11: Upload a Custom Thumbnail

Your thumbnail image is the first, most prominent thing people will see after your video is live, so you need it to be compelling!

Once your video appears on your page after recording, click “edit video,” and you’ll see an icon (like the one below), which will allow you to upload a custom thumbnail image.

custom video thumbnail

Typically, choosing a high-quality image of a person with minimal distractions is what will yield the best results to get late viewers to click play and tune into your Facebook Live recording. You can also upload an image with text overlay to give Facebook browsers an instant hint into what the video content is about before they tune in.

#12: Pin Your Post to the Top of Your News Feed

Similar to how you pin a tweet on Twitter, you can pin your live video to the top of your newsfeed to get more traction. Take advantage of this to ensure it’s the first thing people see when visiting your page.

#13: Add Captions to Your Video

I don’t know about you, but I often scroll through my Facebook news feed when loved ones around me are sleeping. Whether you’re around resting family members, in a loud setting like a bus or train stop, or just attempting not to disturb the people around you, viewing videos without sound is quite common nowadays. That’s where captions come in.

Not only that, but captions make your video more accessible to a larger audience. Make sure to add captions to your Facebook video by either generating them through Facebook or uploading your own SRT file.

live video captions

#14: If Your Video was a Real Hit, Make it the Featured Video

Changing the settings of your live video to a “Featured Video” will allow it to appear front and center on your page, as well as your video page, driving even more eyes to it.

#15: Promote Your Video After the Fact

Once your video is done livestreaming you can boost your post and run an ad campaign just like on your other Facebook videos and posts. Take advantage of the audience and geo-targeting features to get your recorded live video in front of a larger but still relevant audience.

promotion for facebook live

#16: Analyze Your Masterpiece

After your video has been up for a few days, go into your “Insights” tab to gauge how your Facebook Live video performed.

facebook live analysis

There you’ll be able to see all of the same metrics you can from pre-recorded videos like minutes viewed, unique viewers, video views, 10-second views, average % completed, number of reactions, comments, and shares. Facebook Live videos also provide metrics around peak live viewers, total views, average view time people reached, and demographics of who watched.

Using these metrics will allow you to continue to perfect your Facebook Live video strategy going forward.

This guide should get you on the right path to Facebook Live streaming success! Feel free to leave comments below if you have any other questions, tips, or advice you’d like to share from your own live streaming experiences.

PS: For live video tips on other social media platforms, check out our blog posts on Instagram Live, YouTube Live, and even how to go live on TikTok. Check em out!

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Meet The Author

Margot Whitney

Margot is a content marketing specialist at WordStream and nutrition graduate student at Framingham State. She loves all things digital, learning about nutrition, running, traveling, and cooking.

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