The Marketer’s Guide to Facebook Live


Chances are, if you’ve been on Facebook in the past six months, you’ve seen Facebook Live in action.

The move to live video streaming makes sense -- social media works best when we’re in the moment. Think how quickly you refresh your Twitter feeds, consume disappearing Snapchat snaps, and look at trending topics. We want to know what’s happening right this second

And nothing is more “in the moment” than live video.

Early viral hits included first-person gems like the giggle-inducing Chewbacca Mom video, but Facebook Live’s rapid growth since then has been fueled by news organizations and brands experimenting on with the channel.


We know ...  it can be a little exhausting to keep up with “what’s next in digital” as a brand. Working on trying to integrate Snapchat and Instagram? Wondering if it’s worth trying to lure and capture Pokemon Go players? Burned out on other “live” video platforms and apps? Fear not -- here’s why Facebook Live is totally worth adopting into your digital strategy:


If you’ve never tried video or live video, or even if you tried out a service like Periscope or Meerkat, and it wasn’t quite right, investigate Facebook Live.

Your brand probably already has a presence on Facebook, which means no additional app to set up. It’s also super easy to get started -- all you need is your smartphone.


Facebook’s Social Graph tells marketers a ton of demographic and behavioral information about our audiences, and Live lets us leverage that perfectly, generating that engagement data in real time.

People get notified when their friends are watching a Live video, and users can invite others to watch with them. They can also jump in at any time while the video is streaming, using Facebook reactions and comments to engage with the video while also watching how other viewers are reacting.

And, yes, other video apps have similar social features, but only Facebook is as big as, well, Facebook.


Facebook updates its algorithms often, but major changes tend to both reflect and shape the way we create and consume content. Take the algorithm change that favored posts with photos, for instance. Facebook incentivized brands to add more visual elements to their social posts, while at the same time updating the Newsfeed to make photos more prominent.

Its latest update to the algorithm favors video, especially Live videos, over other content. So if you’re working hard to reach your follower segments on Facebook, video will make it a little easier.


It’s hard to beat the value of creating things that your audience wants more of. Social video already generates 1,200% more shares than posts with images or text, and people clearly enjoy interacting with video content. Live video takes that engagement up a notch, so it’s becoming popular with brands and consumers alike. People spend three times as long watching Live videos as they do regular ones.


The first question to answer before you start creating Facebook Live videos: “Why are we creating Facebook Live videos?”

Video is a great medium for reaching audiences and engaging with them about the things they care about. Live video is even more attention-grabbing. It gives you a new way to share content and connect with your audience.

But not everything is right for every brand or every situation. Carefully evaluate your reasons for using video and specifically Live video to make sure it aligns with your overall goals.

Speaking of goals -- set some! Facebook’s video metrics allow you to benchmark against your own video performance and that of other brands on Facebook.

Types of goals you could set include:

  • Video views
  • Engagement, i.e., reactions or comments on the video
  • Clickthroughs on your call to action (which you can append to a live video when it’s done)
  • Actions taken based on your video and the call to action

Tie these goals in with your overall marketing strategy. If you’re directing followers to a landing page urging them to donate to a specific cause, measure the impact of a Facebook Live video in driving page views and donations. You could also drive people to sign up for your newsletter, register for a webinar, or download a template.

You should also try out different content formats to see which resonates with your audience. Try out one or a few of these six different types of videos that are perfect for live streaming:


For the 2016 Academy Awards, the team streamed live video on Facebook, showing guests arriving, backstage during the announcement of winners, and interviews from the red carpet. This live streaming leading up and during the event gave viewers an inside look at the film event of the year and kept people engaged with the show on another platform.


They also created a playlist featuring all the Live video content that was streamed during the event. 


You could imitate this behind-the-scenes format by giving viewers a sneak peek at new products, a recently renovated office, or preparations for an upcoming event.


This is one of the easiest way for brands and marketers to use Facebook Live, especially when starting out.

If you have a company event, prominent speaker, panel discussion, open meeting, or any kind of event where you’d like to multiply your reach beyond the folks who are attending, video is always a good idea -- and live streaming helps viewers feel like they’re a part of the event, even from behind their computer or phone screen.

For instance, TechCrunch used Facebook Live to broadcast interviews and speakers from the 2016 Disrupt NY event, letting people who couldn’t be there experience the conference as close to firsthand as they could.


News outlets and other content creators can use Live as an option for telling digital stories. For instance, CBS This Morning partnered with the National Park Service and National Geographic Travel to produce a weekly series celebrating 100 years of the National Park Service.


Live videos make a perfect medium for Q&As. You’ll be able to see the questions as they come in through the commenting feature, and presenters can even call out specific people as they join the video chat for an engaging, personal touch.

Wimbledon champion Andy Murray conducted a live Q&A on Live right after winning his second Wimbledon that has garnered more than 2 million views as of August 2016.


One of the most effective ways we’ve seen people leveraging the power of Live videos is to combine it with podcasting.

By doing a simultaneous podcast taping and Live video segment, you can reach a larger audience and add a visual element to the audio format. Think about how sports radio shows like The Dan Patrick Show tape a television show at the same time as they’re broadcasting on radio.

HubSpot has used this approach while taping new episodes our podcast The Growth Show.


Another fun way to create Facebook Live content while encouraging fans to interact with your company is to create a contest or activity that people can participate via the commenting function on Facebook. 

NPR recently asked its community to go up against its editors in a challenge of who could write the best headline. 


Now that you’re armed with compelling reasons to create a Facebook Live video and a plan of action, what do you need to actually create one?

The simple list:

  • A personal Facebook account or a business page.
  • A smartphone, laptop, or other recording device with access to the Facebook app, the Facebook Pages Manager app (App Store | Google Play), or a live encoder
  • A strong internet connection

That’s really it! Of course, the types of videos you create will have a lot to do with the goals you set. You may not want your video to be super polished if you’re trying to give everyone a taste of what it’s like to be in the crowd at a concert or event. You probably want to up your equipment game if you want to produce a high-quality broadcast of an event, though.

And depending on what you want to do with your video, you’ll need to know a few things before actually going “LIVE.”



Facebook Live works with pretty much any device that’s capable of accessing a Facebook app, so you can use your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. 

Additionally, Facebook’s Live API allows you to produce a Live video from any device with live video encoder software. This means that even a multi-camera event can be broadcast through Facebook Live, whereas before you’d need a device with the Facebook app.


If you want to reduce shakiness of the video or improve the audio quality, you have a few options. Try using a tripod or selfie stick to keep the frame steadier -- this will also allow you to put your recording device closer to the action. Lavalier or directional microphones will vastly improve your audio quality for interviews and events. 


Always be aware of your surroundings. If you’re filming inside, make sure your lighting works when you look at what your followers will be seeing. If you’re outside, don't stand in front of the sun or cross back and forth from shade to sun. 

In terms of internet connection, you don’t need to be on wifi to use Facebook Live, but it’s the best choice. If you can’t get wifi, then you need at least a 4G network connection to make it work. If your connection isn’t good enough to stream, the button will be grayed out.



Access Live Video through either the Facebook app or the Pages Manager app.

Through a personal account, click on the “What’s on your mind?” box at the top of your Newsfeed.

In the options below the area to input text, you’ll see a list of options, which include Live Video.

In the Pages Manager app, click “Publish” from your brand's page. On the following page, you’ll find an option at the bottom of your screen that says “Add to your post.” Select this, and then click “Live Video.” If this is your first live video, Pages will request access to your camera and microphone. Click “OK” for both.


On this page, you can choose to go live in selfie mode, where the camera faces you, or you can click the rotating arrows  in the top right corner and choose to film in the opposite direction.


If you're using a personal profile to live stream, you can select a pre-built audience like “Friends” or “Public,” or you can use a custom list of specific followers. You’ll see the option to build a custom list if you click “More”.


Note that if you’re in the Facebook Pages Manager app, you don’t choose an audience -- it's automatically set to Public. Instead, your video will automatically broadcast to everyone who is following your business page.


This step is crucial! The description is the only thing your followers will see telling them what your video is, so it should be catchy, clear, and interesting. 

If your followers start watching the Live video after it has already begun, make sure you’ve described it well enough so they know why to continue watching.

You’ll be able to update this description after you’ve completed your Live broadcast and before sharing, but during your broadcast, you’re stuck with the one you set prior to streaming.


Once you’ve entered a bit of compelling copy, click the blue “Go Live.” A 3-second countdown timer will begin before you are actually live streaming.

Live videos can be streamed for anywhere from a few seconds up to 90 minutes. Facebook recommends you broadcast for at least 10 minutes.

And once you’re live, you can choose to use a filter or even draw on the video for a more interactive experience.


Source: Facebook

If it’s a one-off, you should start your live broadcast slightly before the main event starts. Use a placeholder screen like the team behind the movie the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them did when they debuted the movie’s trailer at San Diego Comic Con 2016.


If want to create a regularly occuring Live show, film it at a consistent time of the week and day so people know when to tune in.

You should also remember a few rules of Live video that you might not think of if you’re used to typically produced videos:

  • Audience members could join you at any time. Make sure to occasionally welcome new viewers and give them a brief recap of what they’re watching
  • Mistakes will happen during anything live! Just go with it and know that your audience also understands you’re live and things won’t be perfect – that’s part of the appeal of the medium, after all.
  • Pay attention to the live comments coming in to see if there are any questions you can answer or feedback. People might tell you things like “your audio is wonky” or “you’re too shadowed” that you might not realize when streaming.


When you’re finished with your broadcast, just hit “Finish.” Facebook will automatically prepare your video for posting.

You’ll get a screen with a few options. You can post it to your wall, delete it, upload it in HD, or download it.


Users spend an average of 22 minutes per day on Facebook. And while that adds up when you consider the amount of time they spend on the platform per month or year, it doesn't mean your audience is guaranteed to see your attempts at using Facebook Live. If you want more viewers during your broadcasts, follow this advice:


Just like any scheduled event, you should promote your Live video before it happens. You can use all your usual communication channels, including Facebook itself.

If you’re promoting in another channel, use a link to your Facebook page to tell people where they can find your video -- and don’t forget to include a date and time!

Give people a sense of what they can expect. For instance, NASA Earth’s promotional post below clearly outlines what people will see and lets its fans know that there will be questions answered during the segment.


Your followers will see in their Newsfeeds that you’re conducting a Live video. They can also sign up to be notified of your future Live events.


Even better, your followers’ friends will be able to see that their friends are watching your video (depending on their notification settings), so you can get some virality if friends of followers start to tune in.

During your live stream, promote links to your video to drive traffic to your Facebook page.

Check out how the L.A. Dodgers uses Twitter to promote its Facebook Live videos.


Here’s where another big promo push begins! As soon as you hit the button to stop broadcasting Live, you’ll be able to optimize your video for posting in a ton of ways.

From your Business Manager page, go to your Page and find the Live video you recently uploaded on your Timeline. Click the drop-down arrow on the top right side of the post and "Edit Post."


You can also find your all your Facebook Live videos by visiting your Page in the Business Manager, then clicking "Video" in the left sidebar. Navigate to the video you want to edit, click the title, and when the post pops up, click on the date of the posting. This will take you to the post in your Timeline, where you can click the drop-down arrow. Select "More Options" and "Edit Post."


From the edit screen, you have some options for optimizing your video. Make sure you: 


Here’s your chance to edit your title and description. This is helpful especially if you do research and discover you want different keywords in the title, or if your video ends up being a little different than what you originally planned. 


You can add tags to help people find your video if they’re searching on Facebook. You can also add captions in the form of a SRT file.


You have the option to upload up to 10 thumbnails to go with your video. This is crucial for making sure your video is shared with a relevant image – you don’t want a blank wall or an embarrassing still frame to be the main visual in people's’ Newsfeeds.


Your video will post directly to your business page timeline when you upload it. It will look just like any other video you post, except that you’ll see a small “was live” tag at the top. People can watch it, read the comments, and react to the video long after the fact.


You can also share the URL of your Facebook Live video on other social networks, through email, and additional channels. To find the URL of your video, click on the title of the video, then right click over the video, and select "Show Video URL."



Don’t forget those important goals you set and the benchmarks you looked at when planning your Facebook Live push. After your video is completed and your post-promotion is done, remember to check in with Facebook’s video metrics platform to see your stats.  

Go to the Insights tab of your Business Manager page and click "Video" on the left sidebar. Then scroll to find the specific video. You'll be able to see performance metrics such as Peak Live Viewers, Minutes Viewed, Unique Viewers, and Average % Completion.



After looking at the stats on your Facebook Live video, there are a few things that you might conclude.

  1. Your Live video completely rocked. You blew your expectations out of the water, it resulted in all kinds of views, buzz, and traffic toward your goals!
  2. Your Live video performed as expected. You got the amount of viewers you wanted, you accomplished the goal you set out to complete, and you feel like you got exactly what you needed from your video.
  3. Your Live video’s performance was disappointing. You didn’t get anywhere near the viewership or results you hoped for.

Regardless of which of those three you’re feeling when it’s all said and done, think about how you can keep getting additional value from your video.

Here are a few things you can do to capitalize on the momentum of your Facebook Live video:


You can download your Live video file and create lots of smaller piece of content out of it. If you live streamed an entire event, try creating small clips to use in various social media posts or blog posts in the future.

If your video is longer than 10 minutes, you likely have at least a couple of smaller segments you can turn into clips and repackage with other types of content.


Treat your Facebook Live video just like an article. If you write a blog post or create another video that’s relevant to the same topic, mention or link to your Facebook Live video and give people a chance to rediscover it. You can also embed a Facebook Live video into your website.


Your video itself can be a story. You can cover it on your blog or other marketing channels and talk about the process of the video coming together, analyze comments or reactions, do a follow-up piece based on questions you didn’t get to during the live broadcast -- there’s plenty of opportunity if you adopt the mindset that your Live video was just one piece of the puzzle.

You can also distribute it to content partners or place stories in industry publications related to the events in your video. For example, here’s Callaway Golf’s Live video tour of golf legend Arnold Palmer’s office:

And here’s a LinkedIn post promoting a story from ReadyMag that features the video from the same visit:



Visuals will rule the future of content. Whether it’s images, video, live video, augmented reality, virtual reality, or another combination, marketers everywhere are already diving in to figure out how these technologies can help them create more genuine connections between their audiences and their brands.

If you’re on the fence about getting started with Facebook Live, or if you’ve just started to integrate it into your marketing tactics, here are a few key points to remember:


As a marketer, you know your audience intimately. You know what they want, how they consume their information, and what types of mediums and platforms make sense. Facebook Live is a new way to connect with people, but you still need to do it in a way that feels true to the brand. Nothing is easier to detect in social media than inauthenticity.


Don’t be Buzzfeed having a technical glitch while trying to go Live with the President of the United States. Practice going Live by setting your audience to “Only Me” so no one else will see it. Have a sense of what you’re going to do before you start broadcasting. If you need high-quality equipment, invest in the right gear before you begin.


Know where you’re going when you set out on your Live journey, or at least where you’d like to go. Videos for business and marketing purposes should be fun and engaging, but not all fun and games. Measure your results when you’re finished, and use these metrics to adjust your tactics next time.


And after all that … remember that it’s easy to fall victim to preparation paralysis. Be prepared, have a plan, practice, but then you just have to go for it.

The good news is that like podcasting, like video, like social media, once you start using Facebook Live and discovering the types of videos that work, you and your brand will hit your stride and be able to tap into this effective marketing tool.

Happy broadcasting!


Check out these helpful guides on growing your audience and advertising your brand on the social platform.

The Future of Facebook Advertising

Learn which types of ads are more competitive and how to improve your campaigns.

Download Now
How to Attract Customers With Facebook

Learn how to grow your business by growing your audience on Facebook.

Download Now
100 Social Media Image Templates

Get more fans to share your content with these 100 customizable templates.