If you listened closely on Dec. 8, 2016, you could hear the cheers of social media professionals around the world.
On that day, Facebook opened up its live streaming feature, Facebook Live, to the public.
Video content is more popular than ever before. However, the trend that has social media marketing professionals jumping out of their seats is live video streaming. Between LiveStream, Periscope, Instagram Live, IGTV and Facebook Live, marketers have been working nonstop to incorporate this exciting opportunity into their broader strategies.
In this how-to article, we’ll cover Facebook Live from start to finish so that you can begin live streaming with confidence. We’ll discuss its features, benefits, and, of course, how to go live on Facebook. Let’s get started!
How to go live on Facebook
Go to your Facebook News Feed and press the Live option (the camcorder icon)
Write a video description
Select a privacy setting by tapping the ellipsis in the bottom right corner and opening up Audience Restrictions
Add a Facebook Live filter, lens, or doodle
Press the "Start Live Video" button
How to go live on Facebook
First, we’ll cover how to go live through your mobile device. Grab your phone (or the phone you use for social media marketing) and open the Facebook app.
1. Go to your Facebook News Feed and press the Live option (the camcorder icon)
Log in to your Facebook account. If your username is something you created 10 years ago and you want to update it before you go live, the good news is it's easy and fast! Here's how to change your Facebook username.
You can also go live from your own Facebook profile or business page. Open up the status bar (as if you’re going to write a regular Facebook status) and select the Live Video option (also denoted by the same camcorder icon).
You’ll be prompted to give Facebook access to your camera and microphone. If you don’t allow this, you won’t be able to go live. This one is a no-brainer, though. If you’re going to go live, you want everybody to be able to see and hear you!
Don’t worry, as soon as you approve it the first time, you’ll stop seeing these prompts.
Well, not entirely. While the video you create is obviously critical, it only matters if people are watching it. That means you need a compelling description that will draw viewers in and make them want to watch.
The description will show up on Facebook users’ timelines above the video, so make sure it grabs their attention! Your description should clearly offer the value your video will provide, while leaving out enough details to spark curiosity.
When you’re writing your description, you can add your location, use emoticons, and tag people! Take advantage of these features if you’re posting from a special location, want to feature a specific employee, or just for fun!
3. If you’re posting from a personal Facebook account, select a privacy setting
If you’re posting from a Facebook business page, your Facebook Live video will be public automatically. Frankly, you’d probably choose this option anyway, because live streaming is all about connecting with your audience and being seen! However, you can restrict your audience by location, using Facebook’s audience restrictions.
To do this, click on the ellipsis button in the bottom right corner. Click on Audience Restrictions. Then, switch “Geo Controls” on, and use the Locations tab to select the locations that you want to either include or exclude. Be sure to change the Location Rule tab depending on which option you select!
On the other hand, if you’re posting from a personal account (whether for a business or personal purpose), you can alter the privacy settings so that your live stream will only be seen by the people you want to see it.
Follow steps one and two the same way as if you were posting from a business account. Then, use the following instructions to change your privacy settings.
To select a privacy setting, you can tap the “To:” button on the top left of the screen. From there, you can select from “Public,” “Friends,” “Friends except…,” or “Friends of friends.” You can also choose to live stream to a specific Facebook group.
4. Play around with Facebook Live filters, lenses, and doodles
Facebook offers various filters, lenses, and the ability to draw or write on your live streaming videos. You can click through the different options that sit right below the “Start Live Video” button – you can’t miss it!
While these are certainly fun and whimsical, be sure you aren’t choosing a filter that will draw attention away from the content of your video. If you do choose to add a filter, lens, or doodle, be sure it’s complementary, instead of distracting.
As an example, consider the three filter options I’ve featured below. In the top image, you can see that the filter covers the entire screen with a colorful overlay. Something like this could distract your viewers from your main subject.
On the other hand, the middle filter acts more as a frame. It’s still busy, but enough to frame your subject without overpowering the screen.
The image on the bottom shows how you can write on your screen. As you can see, the drawing will remain as an overlay throughout your video, so take my example as a what not to do.
5. Start your Facebook Live video!
Once you’ve selected a filter, make sure your camera is facing the correct way (use the camera button in the top left corner to switch from your outward-video camera to your selfie video camera, and vice versa). Ensure that your subject is in place and click on the blue “Start Live Video” button to begin rolling!
Once you do this, you are live! Your video will begin to appear in your own feed, and the feeds of your audience members. In the top left corner, you’ll see how long you’ve been live for. Facebook Live streams can be up to 90 minutes long.
While you may not want to use an hour and a half of your day to interact with your Facebook audience, keep one thing in mind – the longer you live stream, the greater the chance that somebody stumbles upon your video and watches it! That said, don’t go overboard, or you’ll likely start to see a drop off in viewers.
Be sure to interact with your viewers throughout the live stream. You can respond to questions and comments in real-time, so take advantage of this feature!
When you’re done live streaming, click the “Finish” button in the bottom right corner. From there, you can post the video to your profile or delete it. If you’re posting for your organization, consider posting it so that viewers who may have missed it can still come back and check it out!
Congratulations! You just filmed your first Facebook Live video! Now that you’re well-versed on how to go live on Facebook, we’ll dive into live streaming and its benefits.
As a quick refresher, live streaming is the broadcasting of a real-time video to your audience through the Internet. This footage is often authentic and unedited, which appeals to consumers’ desires to get to know the people behind their favorite brands.
Because of that, live streaming has become incredibly popular among millennials (which, in turn, makes it an exciting opportunity for marketers). Live streaming has become an increasingly popular method to unveil new products, debut recent initiatives, or cover events in real-time.
Various social media platforms have recognized the opportunity and jumped on the live streaming train. Livestream, an app exclusively to broadcast and watch live events, was founded in 2007 and boasts more than 40 million viewers every month.
Periscope, another live streaming app, was founded in 2014 and acquired by Twitter before the product had even been launched to the public. Facebook Live followed shortly after in April 2016, and Instagram followed shortly after, launching Instagram Live in November 2016.
There’s a reason every social media platform was eager to release its live streaming capability. In recent years, live streaming has soared in popularity. In fact, the market is expected to be worth $70 billion by 2021 – just a short five years since the major social media platforms joined in on the action.
For marketers, Facebook live is a fun and easy way to interact with audiences through video. That’s not its only draw, though. The feature’s in-the-moment nature creates a sense of urgency. Viewers feel like they’re missing out by not watching, which increases engagement. Statistically, live streaming is more appealing to audiences, with 80 percent of people preferring a live video over a traditional blog post.
If you’re ready to incorporate live streaming video into your broader social media marketing strategy, Facebook Live can be a great place to start! In the next section, we’ll hone in on Facebook’s live streaming feature and exactly how you can leverage it.
Live streaming is just one of many ways Facebook allows its users to communicate with an audience and receive feedback. In addition to sharing video footage in real-time, Facebook also lets users create polls to share with their communities.
Creating a Facebook poll is a great way to reach out to your network and gather their thoughts or opinions for free. With a poll, you can ask your network anything and crowdsource a response to your trickiest questions.
If you're interested in making a Facebook poll but aren't sure how, check out our content on how to create a poll on Facebook. This post uses helpful visuals to take you through the process of creating a poll one step at a time.
Facebook Live is Facebook’s version of a live video streaming service. When it was originally launched in April 2016, it was only available to a select few major brand and celebrity accounts. However, it opened up to the public on iOS and Android on Dec. 8, 2016.
With Facebook Live, users can “live stream” video from their mobile devices or desktops. Like live television, this means that the viewer is watching it as it happens, like a one-way Skype call. If the creator chooses not to save the video to their profile when they’re done streaming, it’s gone as soon as they turn off the camera.
Facebook Live is especially interactive compared to other live streaming services. Throughout the broadcast, users can interact with the video using Facebook’s typical “reaction emojis.” These six reactions, which stemmed off of the original Facebook like, express emotions for like, love, haha, wow, sad, and angry. The reactions will show up in real time as the viewers use them.
Facebook Live also boasts a variety of fun features and opportunities for marketing professionals to take advantage of.
Remember that if you ever feel as though you or your company's information is being compromised, the best course of action is to change your Facebook password. For help on figuring out how to do so, head to our article on changing your Facebook password.
Facebook Live features
While there are plenty of live streaming platforms out there, Facebook Live offers a variety of exciting features that are unique to Facebook Live. By leveraging the following features, you can ensure you're getting the most out of your live streaming experience!
Live for Facebook Groups and Facebook Events
A lot of Facebook users – both marketers and users alike – leverage Facebook Groups and Events for their businesses and personal needs. If this sounds like you, you’re in luck! With a private Facebook group or event, you can live stream to just the Facebook users in that group or who RSVP'd to that event.
Whether you’re a fitness instructor wanting to take your private Facebook group through a workout class, a marketer wanting to reveal a new product to an exclusive user-testing group, or a mom-to-be hoping to have your out-of-state family members witness your gender reveal, Facebook Live is for you!
Facebook Live already creates a sense of urgency. Now, you can use it to create a sense of exclusivity. Encourage your audience to join a certain user group with the promise of an exclusive Facebook live stream, and voila! You’ve secured yet another innovative way to communicate with the people who matter most.
Interactive features – live reactions, replay comments, live filters
Facebook Live boasts various opportunities for fun and lighthearted interactions with your viewers. As mentioned above, users can take advantage of Facebook’s unique reactions to express their feelings about video streams in real time. Because these reactions appear in real time, both the broadcasters and audience can see how others are reacting.
Users can also comment on videos as it play, giving broadcasters the ability to respond and interact while streaming. This means broadcasters can answer audience questions as they’re being asked throughout the video.
Not only is this an exciting feature in and of itself, but Facebook Live’s increased interactions make it even more thrilling. That’s right, Facebook found early on that people comment 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos. Users want to be heard and recognized, so interacting with these comments is a simple way to start building relationships with your audience members.
Viewers can discover even more!
Facebook Live makes it easy for viewers to discover new content. For marketers, this means the content you’re producing may reach entirely new audiences that your organization hasn’t targeted in the past.
Facebook users can discover new content through two main methods. The first of which is something you can easily incorporate into the script of your live stream. Audience members already watching your live stream are able to send an invitation to friends inviting them to watch, without ever navigating away from your video! To take advantage of this method, you can consider asking current viewers to share with their networks.
The second includes Facebook’s mobile app, which hosts a dedicated space where users can discover the most popular and relevant live content at any given moment. Through this feature, Facebook users will regularly be discovering new brands and their content.
Ready to give Facebook Live a try?
Are you feeling well equipped with the tools you need to go live on Facebook? We hope so!
For more best practices on all things Facebook, be sure to check out our ultimate guide to Facebook marketing.
Claire is the content marketing team lead, coming to G2 after graduating from the University of Dayton. Born and raised in the Chicago area, her brief stint in Ohio gave her a new appreciation for deep-dish pizza, but left her well-versed in Cincinnati-style chili and "cities" with a population fewer than 400,000. While not writing, Claire can be found practicing calligraphy, seeking out the best dive bars in Chicago, and planning her next trip. (she/her/hers)