With all of the live streaming platform options out there, Facebook decided to throw their hat in the ring, too. And the result is pretty impressive. If you’re a small business and you aren’t currently taking advantage of this shiny new toy, then you need to check it out. Because if you’re not using it, your competition surely is.
Facebook Live allows users to share their experiences and content with their followers via real-time video on their timeline. It’s also pretty versatile, allowing access from both a smartphone and a computer. And as of now, Facebook’s algorithm is currently set to be extremely favorable to those going Live. So without much in the way of expensive equipment needed, Facebook Live is a great way to connect and interact with your audience, as well as create evergreen content that you can then share to other platforms.
Ian Anderson Gray is a social media coach, trainer and consultant who loves to teach business owners how to leverage Facebook Live to engage and connect with their audience, all while creating valuable content to attract and retain viewers and customers.
Rich: Ian Anderson Gray is founder of Seriously Social, a blog focused on social media tools. He’s a speaker, trainer, teacher, web developer and consultant. He has a passion for turning the techno babble of social media marketing into plain English.
Ian is founder of Select Performers, a family-run web agency. As well as being a geek, husband, and dad to two kids, Ian is also a professional singer and lives near Manchester in the UK. But he’s not that professional singer, “Ian Anderson”, that’s a completely different guy. Ian, welcome to the show.
Ian: It’s great to be here. Thank you for having me on.
Rich: I’m looking forward to it. So…Meerkat, Periscope, Snapchat, Google Hangouts, Blab, YouTube. There are so many video options out there, why should we be considering Facebook Live?
Ian: Well I think the first thing is that it is Facebook. I think they announced 1.7 billion users using Facebook at the moment, so when Facebook invests in a new technology, it’s definitely something you can’t ignore. It’s been interesting to see, Meerkat has kind of dies down, Periscope is not going anywhere, but Twitter is still kind of struggling with things and their identity and what they’re going to do. Facebook launched Facebook Live just at the end of last year and I think it’s already becoming something huge and something that you can’t ignore whether you’re a business or just using it for a bit of fun.
Rich: Tell me a little bit about what you’re doing on Facebook Live for your own business.
Ian: So I’m not using it as often as I could do, but I’m kind of interested in the technology and trying to understand how it works and how businesses can leverage it. Unfortunately I was not able to use Facebook Live because it wasn’t available on my phone – maybe it’s because I’m an Android user, maybe because I’m based in the UK and it wasn’t rolled out to me – so I looked to ways of being able to access Facebook Live, and I found out that you can broadcast from your computer. So that’s one way of using Facebook Live, broadcasting from your computer, doing screencasts and How To videos.
So that’s what I do, I go through different tools, I give some pieces of advice and my thoughts on certain things, and it’s a really quick and easy way to create content. I think for me, I love writing and my main area of content marketing probably is blog posts, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist and it takes me a long time to write my articles, and Facebook Live allows me to burst through that perfectionist bubble and just create some raw content which is a little bit easier for me to do.
Rich: Now are you using Facebook Live at all to promote these blog posts when those perfect blog posts do go live?
Ian: Yes. Because I don’t really get the time to publish those perfect blog posts as often as I would, it’s not happening as much as I’d like. But yeah, I did, I published a blog post a couple of weeks ago and I went on Facebook Live and talked about the blog post, and it kind of helped in my situation because the post was actually about Facebook Live so it made sense to do that.
But yeah, it’s a really good way if you have a blog post to talk about areas of the blog post, to create a discussion and get people involved and get people to ask you questions. It’s kind of like a mini webinar in a sense.
Rich: Alright. So I’ll be honest, I have not played around yet with Facebook Live, and I guess my fear is that I’ll throw a party and no one shows up. So I’m sure you’ve heard that before from people, what do you say when somebody has that concern that they’re going to throw a Facebook Live event/party/session and no one shows up for it?
Ian: Well, it’s definitely a concern. But I think that’s one excuse for just not trying it and it’s an excuse I always have. I’m worried I’ll go on and just nobody is going to turn up and it’s going to feel like I’m talking to myself. And that was my concern with Periscope, it just feels like I’m talking to myself.
The way I would start with this is just to do it and to try it. The first thing I would experiment with is going live to your personal profile, change the privacy settings to “only me”, so you’re just testing it out and no one is going to be watching it because you’re only sharing it with yourself, and then go back and just check that everything is working well.
Rich: So you can set your Facebook privacy to “only me”? I didn’t even realize that.
Ian: Yes. You can’t do this on your page, so if you’re thinking of broadcasting to your Facebook fans on your business page that’s great, but first of all test it on your personal page and change the privacy setting to “only me”, and then you can just kind of play around with it and test.
I think the other thing that you need to do is kind of plan – I know this sounds obvious but so many people don’t do this – plan what you’re going to say before you go live, what are you actually going to say. And maybe keep it to 2-3 points, keep it short, 3-5 minutes is probably a good start.
Being scared before you go live is perfectly normal. It’s one of the main reasons I don’t do it as often as I should, I always get these big nerves before I go live. I almost get more nervous doing a Facebook Live broadcast than I do speaking at a conference because I can’t see the people that I’m speaking to. Honestly, you just need to get through that and do it.
Rich: Yeah, I definitely get that vibe, the same thing with a webinar when you can’t actually see if people are falling asleep in their seats so you don’t actually know how you need to change things. So I can understand why that would be a problem.
Do you think that there’s anything that we should think about in terms of the time of day or which days we do our Facebook Live on? Have you seen any studies or do you have any insights into are there better or worse times to do Facebook Live?
Ian: I haven’t seen any studies. In all honestly, I think the best way is to test. You should always test these things. I think a good way is to try different time zones, because it obviously depends on your audience. So for me, if I broadcast at 9:00 in the morning UK time, the likelihood is I’m not going to reach many people in the US because that’s going to be 3:00 A.M. I think if you’re wanting to reach people in an international audience, you have to take time zones into account.
Another thing that you can do is you can announce ahead of time that you’re going to go live. So I see this quite a lot where they’ll post on Facebook to watch them at 1:00 P.M. today when I go live and I’m going to talk about x,y and z. That’s definitely a good way of doing it.
But then just see how many live viewers you’re getting, and I think initially you’re probably going to get relatively low numbers. Don’t worry about that, because in fact a majority of the people aren’t going to be watching it live, they’re going to be watching it later. One of my early Facebook Live videos has received thousands and thousands of views even though it probably only had a dozen live viewers at the time.
Rich: Ok, so there is some ongoing benefit of doing Facebook Live, even if you’re not pulling in that immediate audience, which I think is good to know.
Now earlier you mentioned perhaps starting with Facebook Live on your profile rather than your page. Are there any other differences – or are there any differences – between those two? Like, do you get different tools if you’re broadcasting on your personal profile versus your page or anything like that, or any metrics that you get if you broadcast on your page compared to your profile?
Ian: If you’re doing it from your phone then there’s not a huge difference between the two. I mean, obviously on a profile you’ve got more privacy options so you can choose whether to go public, to your friends, to your particular list, or just with yourself. With both of them, your fans on your page and on your profile your friends, and the other area of course is your group, as well. If you’ve got a private group, you can also go live to your group, as well.
So in all those cases, either your fans, friends or members will get notified. And it’s a great way of extending your reach, because what happens usually is you post on your page and a very small proportion of your fans of that page will actually see that post. Whereas Facebook will really want to push Live video, so most of them will get a notification that you’ve gone live and if they’re on they’ll usually hop on and watch what you’re doing.
Rich: Alright, that definitely works. You mentioned that on your Android phone – perhaps because of the UK – you didn’t have this feature on your phone, some people do, but it sounds like you can use desktop. What equipment should we be thinking of if we are going to do Facebook Live?
Ian: Well the first thing is just test it out, use your phone. It’s available on iOS and Android, hopefully, I did have it and then it was taken away. I think they’re just tweaking a few things. First thing is just try it and make sure when you do it that you have a good internet connection and you’re in a relatively quiet place, because audio matters.
I would say if you’re going to take it to the next level, then invest in a lapel mic or some kind of microphone for your Android or Apple device. They’re not that expensive, you can get a pretty decent lapel mic for $20-$30. That’s going to really enhance your audio quality. If you’re doing interviews, you can get a handheld mic that you can plug into your smartphone as well, which works really well if you’re at a conference and you’re doing an interview. So I think audio really matters.
You can also broadcast from your computer – and at the moment that’s more involved – that does require you downloading some software. But if you’ve got a webcam on your computer, you can broadcast from your desktop using your webcam and you can share your screen, you can even do interviews with other people by showing a Skype screen or a Blab. There’s a lot you can do there, and you don’t have to invest in a huge amount of expensive equipment, as long as you’ve got a decent microphone and a webcam you’re pretty good to go.
Rich: So you’re saying something that I did not realize – and I think this is just around my ignorance around Facebook Live – I thought the only option was to show yourself or whatever you’re looking at. But you seem to be saying that we can also be doing basically what sounds like a webinar on Facebook Live. Am I understanding that correctly?
Ian: Yeah. Absolutely. So on a basic level you can use your phone, and this is something I’ve done. Obviously if you have a front facing camera and a back facing camera you can switch that midstream and you can demonstrate the sharing of a blog post that you’ve written or whatever, or share certain things that you’re doing on a screen. But obviously you’re using your smartphone’s camera and it’s not going to be amazing quality.
So what you can do, by downloading some software you can effectively produce a webinar by sharing your screen or webcam. So for example, if you’ve got a Powerpoint presentation, you can share that, you can have your webcam sitting in the top left or right corner and you can then transition over to just your full webcam, you can bring somebody else in from a Skype interview that you’re doing, insert a video. There’s a huge number of things that you can do, and it’s really quite powerful.
Now the way you do this at the moment – Facebook haven’t got this all built into the system – you need to download some software to do this, and there’s two main options. The first is a free option called OBS Studio, and if you just do a Google search (obsproject.com), you’ll find that and you can download that. That’s pretty good, and there’s also a professional one called Wirecast, and that costs $495. So that is kind of taking it to the next level, the quality is probably a little bit better, and a few extra things you can do on Wirecast. But for most people, I think OBS Studio is a pretty good start and that will get you going and allow you to do all those things I’ve mentioned.
Rich: Great. And we’ll have links to those two tools in the show notes as well. I can almost imagine that we could record ourselves, and then using one of these two tools, pretend to be live but actually be completely smooth and just put together a video like that. It sounds like Facebook is really promoting live video over anything also, so anything we do through that Live tool is going to get a little more visibility than anything else we’re going to do right now.
Ian: Well yeah, you can do that. And I know a few of my friends and colleagues will do a webinar on another platform – such as GoToWebinar or Blab – they’ll get some people in and have a group conversation, but they’re then using Wirecast or OBS Studio to broadcast that to Facebook Live. So you’re actually doing the live broadcast elsewhere but you’re also simultaneously broadcasting it to Facebook Live as well.
Rich: That’s pretty cool, because I know that that’s one of the shortcomings that I see right now is that there is no true interview feature within Facebook Live unless you get two people sitting side by side in front of the screen.
Ian: Yes, and I think that’s coming. Facebook has said hopefully later this year they will be allowing you to bring in guests. But for now, there are workarounds using the likes of OBS Studio and Wirecast and bringing in conversations from Skype, Blab or some other platform that you use.
Rich: Ok. So this again, Ian, comes from a point of ignorance and just not having really used this platform before. So let’s say that we’re on air, we’re live, and we do have an audience, what type of interaction is there between me and the people who might be watching me live?
Ian: So you have the comments, you have people that are able to comment while watching the live video. This is a little bit tricky at the moment and we’re all hoping that Facebook is going to improve this because sometimes the comments don’t always appear straight away, and if you’ve got a large number of people commenting it can be very difficult to manage.
So what I would suggest if it’s just one of you doing the broadcast, do keep an eye on the comments in front of you on your phone and try to answer those questions as you can. If you have somebody else who’s able to reply to those comments and manage those comments for you, then do that.
On a computer, if you have a dual monitor setup, you can have the comments on one screen and then you can do the broadcast from the other. But it’s going to be very difficult if there’s only one of you to actually type those replies at the same time, so I wouldn’t bother doing that, I would wait until the broadcast finishes. By all means, answer questions live on the broadcast, but then afterwards remember that this live broadcast becomes a permanent video either on your page, your profile or your group, and you can go and edit that video later. So you can change the thumbnail, you can tag people, you can change the title, and then you can go in and reply to people’s comments. I’m still finding people are coming in on a video that went live a month ago and it’s a piece of evergreen content, really, that you can then respond to the comments on a daily basis.
Rich: I’m glad you brought up the word “evergreen” because one of the other things I was wondering is, is there any way of getting that video off of Facebook so that we can use it somewhere else, say, YouTube.
Ian: Yes. That’s a really good point. So you can download the video, Facebook gives you the option to download your video. And the other thing is if you use the likes of Wirecast or OBS Studio – as well as streaming live – you can save that video to your desktop as well.
So for example, you could stream in 720p, which is the maximum that Facebook allows you at the moment, but you could save the video in full HD and then edit that video and re-upload to the likes of YouTube and repurpose that content. You could put it onto Pinterest, turn it into a podcast even, there’s a huge number of things that you could do.
Rich: Cool. One of the things that I’m always thinking about – because I run a small business and a lot of our clients are small business owners – and I’m always telling people that you should be using social media to drive traffic to your website and build your email list. What kind of calls to action or methods could we use in Facebook Live to actually get people to our website or some sort of opt in page? Is is just basically a verbal call to action, can we leave a message in the comments, are there other things that you’ve seen to drive traffic?
Ian: This is going to be interesting to see how Facebook changes the platform. At the moment, as far as I can tell there’s no physical call to action you can add in the same way you can with a Facebook ad. But what you can do is you can certainly have that verbal call to action in the video, you can add some graphics as well if you’re broadcasting from your computer, so you could have a lower third graphic that introduces you and you can flash some calls to action through the video.
Obviously they’re not clickable, so what I always advise is in the actual post that you’re going live with, you can add a title and a description. And within that description you can link to a blog post or product that you’re selling within the actual Facebook Live post, because it’s just like any other post with a video. And then you can also add in the comments as well and reply to people and send them over to your website. So there’s a huge number of possibilities there to promote your content.
Rich: Alright, cool. How long should we plan on making our shows, or is that something that we just don’t know yet?
Ian: I think keep it short, to begin with at least. I would say keep it to 3-5 minutes, be aware of people’s time constraints. I think that also will fine tune your brain into making it short and to the point, because I don’t know about you, but I find if I’m going live and I haven’t’ got a structure, I will tend to just gibber on and the content ends up not being so good. So keep it short and sweet, really. Over time as you perfect it, you can maybe see if you can extend that.
The likes of Mari Smith, I’ve seen her go on to over an hour and just continually deliver amazing content. So it does work and I have seen live content streamed at a clay pigeon shooting contest here in the UK, and that was streamed an hour and a half of content, and they got thousands and thousands of live viewers on that.
So if it is like an event where people can kind of come in and come out, then I think that makes sense to make it longer. If it’s just a video of you speaking, then probably keep it on the shorter side.
Rich: Alright, that was great. Ian, I want to thank you for your time. Before you head off, where can we find out more about you online?
Ian: You can follow me on Twitter at @iagdotme, and my website is iag.me. If you want to find out a bit more about broadcasting from your computer to Facebook Live, I’ve written a whole blog post about this and tried to make it as easy as possible, and that’s at iag.me/fblive.
Rich: Awesome, great. Ian, thank you so much for your time and your expertise today.
Ian: It’s been great, thanks for having me on.
- Read more about broadcasting Facebook Live from your computer at Ian’s blog post all about the subject.
- Follow Ian on Twitter, and be sure to check him out online.
- Two cool tools Ian discussed to help you with Facebook Live from your computer:
- Have you grabbed your tickets to the Agents Of Change Digital Marketing Conference yet? What are you waiting for? Even if you can’t make it to beautiful Portland, Maine to check it out in person, there are virtual tickets available, too.