Facebook Live: getting started and smashing it

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Facebook Live is a live video streaming service that lets anyone broadcast a video straight to Facebook.

Live streaming video can be a scary prospect, but with the right preparation, you can make it an outstanding success for your charity. Probably the most accessible option is Facebook Live, which can help you reach and engage a large audience easily and very cheaply. In this post, we’ll share some examples of charities already using it, as well as share some tips on how to go live on Facebook.

Facebook Live video charity examples

Teenage Cancer Trust’s live video from their Glasgow unit after a BBC documentary was viewed more than 14,000 times, had 362 reactions and 117 comments. An amazing level of engagement.

Teenage Cancer Trust's Facebook Live video from Glasgow

At The Prince’s Trust, I ran a Facebook Live Q&A with boy band celebrity ambassadors The Vamps and some Trust-supported young people, who were winners of the Tomorrow’s Talent retail design competition.

The video was viewed more than 18,000 times, had almost 600 reactions and over 300 comments. It also had an awesome 113 shares.

Prince's Trust and The Vamps Facebook Live videe


Here are some tips for running your own Facebook Live

1. Planning

First off, make sure you have a live audience! They’ll boost your engagement and push your live stream higher in news feeds.

To attract viewers, ensure you:

  • Hang your broadcast off a key moment.

Teenage Cancer Trust ran theirs at a strategic moment when interest was high, immediately after the BBC TV documentary set in their Glasgow unit aired.

Most importantly, it allowed them to cover aspects of the charity’s work that weren’t featured in the documentary.

  • Use a celebrity ambassador hook.

The Vamps attracted the perfect target audience for The Prince’s Trust. It helped us raise awareness of a competition open to Trust-supported young people.

The band also helped us to promote the event in advance, far wider than we could have done by ourselves.

2. Equipment

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a technical set up, you’re probably going to be using a smartphone or tablet with the Facebook Pages app installed.

Ideally, also get:

  • a USB microphone to make your sound crystal clear. We used a Blue Mic Snowball with iPad adapter for our Prince’s Trust live broadcast.
  • a tripod to keep your shot steady (although handheld can work just as well). There are lots that are mobile device-compatible.

3. Location

Location is crucial to add interest to your video and ensure your broadcast runs smoothly.

  • Choose a place that doesn’t have too much background noise.
  • Make sure there’s a strong wi-fi connection.
  • Find a well-lit space – some device cameras aren’t great performers in low light.

4. Before you go live

Preparation is the key – make sure you’ve covered all these bases before you press the button:

  • Test it – you can’t test a broadcast from a Page, but you can test your connection, sound and image quality from your personal Facebook profile. Simply select the audience as ‘Only me’.

Setting Live video privacy to 'Only me'

  • Have a quick run through – it’ll make you and your presenters feel more confident for the real thing.
  • Promote it in advance on Facebook and other channels. 

Prince's Trust pre-Facebook Live promotion

6. When you’re on air

To make your broadcast as engaging as possible, follow these simple rules:

  • Have a helper with another device who is a Facebook Page admin. Ask them to interact with post comments during the broadcast.
  • Get your presenters to react to live questions and comments – we had one of the Vamps monitoring comments on a tablet.
  • Go live for long enough – Facebook recommends at least 10 minutes to gain traction.

In summary

The key to running a successful Facebook Live video is to prepare and promote. Dan Papworth-Smyth, Digital Communications Manager at Teenage Cancer Trust, offers this piece of advice:

“Prepare questions to get the conversation going, but also prepare whoever you’re talking to so they feel comfortable and relaxed. The promote part is just to let people know that it’s happening as far in advance as possible, to ensure you get the largest engaged and interested audience possible, actively thinking of things to ask”.

Do you have any Facebook Live experiences and tips to share with other charities and non-profits? Let us know in the comments below.

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