Adventures in Livestreaming - 'Facebook Live' Best Practices For Law Firm Marketers

I recently had the privilege of producing the Facebook Live broadcasts for the 2018 Legal Marketing Association’s Annual Conference in New Orleans. (Example in link above!) We were able to share many highlights of this popular, annual event even with those that could not make it to Louisiana.

Indeed, today anyone can use technology to broadcast live video anywhere in the world (for law firms, think: live interviews, press conferences, client alerts, event coverage). As remarkable and easy as this medium can be, it does come with a few hurdles and challenges.

However, with a little planning and best practices, you too can transmit live video around the globe.

Check Your Connection

Make sure you have a fast enough wi-fi or data signal to go live. Video takes a lot of bandwidth. What might be fine for tweeting and Googling may not be enough to livestream.

If there is not enough bandwidth, Facebook won’t let you start broadcasting at all - and for slower connections, it will let you broadcast but reduce the size and quality of your video signal. This will result in blurry, pixelated video.

For a good quality, uninterrupted Facebook Live stream, you want at least 4 Mbps of upload bandwidth.

You can broadcast with less than 2 Mbps but as mentioned above, the video quality starts to deteriorate.  

The best way to be sure you have enough speed is to test your internet connection, whether Wi-Fi or data, before you start. There are several apps available for your phone that will let you do this. I like the Speedtest app by Ookla which is available free for both Android and iPhone in their respective app stores.

Be aware, especially when using a shared network, that as more people login, it will slow down. So while you may have a perfectly strong stream to start with, as more and more people arrive at an event, you may lose signal strength. 

Get Good Sound

This is a good rule for any time you are recording video.

If you can keep your subject within a few feet of the phone and you are not in a noisy environment, the built-in microphone on your mobile device should suffice.

If you want better quality audio or your subject is not close to the “camera” or you are in a loud environment, like a conference, you will want to get an external microphone. This could be something as simple as a wired handheld or lavalier mic with a long cord or extension cable. However, for ease of use and the most flexibility, I suggest a wireless mic system. 

Use a Tripod, Monopod, or Stabilizer

This will avoid shaky movement and is another good general rule for any time you are filming.  

Check Your Lighting 

Before you go live, look at your subject on the screen and make sure they are pleasingly lit.

Be careful of bright lights or windows behind them, as Facebook’s camera app will try and adjust the exposure for the background, leaving your subjects looking dark. You can adjust this some by tapping the screen in the darker area or using the exposure adjustment under the wrench icon that appears on screen during your broadcast. Keep an eye on things while you’re filming, as the app sometimes reverts to the background exposure.

A good rule of thumb is “if it looks good on the screen it will look good on the broadcast.”

The cameras on mobile devices work pretty well under low lighting conditions but be sure to watch out for rooms that are just too dark. A good rule of thumb is “if it looks good on the screen it will look good on the broadcast.”

Rehearse

This is especially important if your subject will be moving around during the broadcast.

Do a walkthrough/rehearsal, so that when the time comes that you are live, you and your subject are in sync. You can do practice broadcasts that will not appear to anyone else by going to your personal page and setting the privacy setting on your live post to “Only Me." (Note: this does not work when posting to groups or professional pages.) This is also a great way to test your audio set up before you are officially live. When you’re done rehearsing, remember to return your privacy back to normal settings. 

Have Good Talent

There’s a reason why the actors in Hollywood get the big bucks. Having someone in front of the camera that the viewers enjoy watching or that they can connect with, will make your show.

Be sure your subject or interviewer is prepared and comfortable on camera so the broadcast will feel natural and be interesting to the audience. For the LMA conference I was lucky to have as on-air hosts Andrew Laver and Stefanie Marrone, who - besides being great on camera and bringing just the right mix of professionalism and humor - are also active members of the association and extremely knowledgeable about the people and topics we covered.

Size Doesn’t Matter

Don’t worry or stop if only a small number of people are watching you live.  The vast majority of your views will come after the live broadcast as your post gets spread to others on Facebook.

The vast majority of your views will come after the live broadcast

To attract the biggest audience, make sure you add a good title and description to your live post and be sure to share the video on Facebook as well as on other platforms.

Go Long

Statistics show that longer broadcasts tend to get more views. Facebook recommends at least 20 minutes and will allow you to stream for as long as 4 hours and still post your video.

Facebook recommends at least 20 minutes...

Ultimately, let your content be your guide. Some subjects will be better kept short and some will lend themselves to longer air times.

Promote

Tell your audience that you are going to be going live.

Use Facebook Events as well as other social media to tell people when you will be broadcasting. Encourage them to sign up for notifications on your page so that Facebook will let them know when you are live.   

And finally … Have fun!

If you are interested in seeing some of the tools and gear I use for Facebook Live and getting some additional tips visit http://katesmedia.com/facebooklivetoolkit/

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