In public relations, we value two-way communication. We know we can’t just send out a message and expect it to be received and interpreted the way it was intended. We must listen to feedback and answer any questions that our audience may have. Only then can we even begin to hope that they’ll adopt the intended behavior or make the intended change.
That’s what is so great about social media, and live social media in particular. You can get immediate response to your messaging. It’s also cheap and relatively easy to distribute. And Facebook now gives priority to live videos in its news feed!
I recently helped a client organize a speaking tour designed to educate the public about an upcoming campaign. Attendance was anemic at the first few meetings, so we decided to try Facebook Live in order to boost the potential audience. The response was immediate. It was two-way and it was well received.
That said, we had a few hiccups early on. But in the end, we were eventually able to draw in just as many, if not more viewers, online as we did in person. Here are a few takeaways from that campaign.
Be Prepared for Anything.
We had one attendee who was belligerent and disruptive. At one point the meeting became quite contentious. We even questioned whether the man was under the influence of drugs or alcohol and therefore a potential harm to the meeting attendees. We were torn between stopping the live feed and continuing. We made the very difficult, yet (in hindsight) correct, decision to “keep rolling.” Had we stopped the feed, it might have appeared that the client was being less than transparent. While uncomfortable, the speaker’s handling of the situation was quite professional and probably helped bolster the public’s confidence in him.
Make sure you have a good internet/Wi-Fi connection.
If your internet connection is weak, it may make your video glitch. We were able to fix this situation by throwing out a hotspot from a cellphone, but the bad connection definitely turned viewers away. We did not have the same reach those nights as we did the nights when connection was strong. To that end,
Use a microphone & tripod.
Shaky video and poor audio are a deterrent to someone watching your live feed. You can pick up this equipment relatively cheap online. A lavalier microphone that plugs into your cellphone can be found on Amazon for less than $20. It’s definitely worth the investment. Because you’ll want to
Interact with your At-Home Audience
Make sure to welcome those watching the live feed when it starts. Encourage them to ask questions. Answer those questions in a timely fashion. Repeat questions from the people in the audience so your online audience has the proper context. And take the time to “reset” or “refresh” every 15 minutes or so. Remind the online audience who you are and what you’re talking about. People will be joining and leaving the feed throughout the meeting. When you’re finished,
Save the Video to Your Timeline.
The live video doesn’t have to end when the meeting is over. From there you can share it, Tweet it, or embed it in blog posts. If you create any type of content for social media, you will find the time it takes to live stream is negligible in comparison to producing professional videos and writing blogs. So be sure to use it to your advantage. Finally …
Understand Your Video’s Analytics.
There’s a difference between the number of people reached and the video’s impressions. In our first live feed we reached 3,439 people, but only had 1,442 impressions. Reach is the number of unique people who saw your content. Impressions are the number of people who actually stopped to view it. But you’ll want to delve a little deeper.
We found that fewer than half of those who viewed the video viewed it for longer than 10 seconds. The average watch time was 25 seconds. Of those who watched, only five percent actually clicked on the link to play it. Facebook settings allow videos to be autoplayed, so it’s difficult to know if those viewers even watched the video. For that reason, it’s hard to count them among your views. Facebook Live will also measure your video’s post engagement (comments, shares, likes) and the average audience demographic. Ours was women ages 35-44. Right on target!
So was it worth the time and effort to go live on Facebook? You bet! My client was going to speak regardless of how many people were physically in the room. By throwing a microphone on and pointing a camera phone at him, he was able to extend his reach – if only by a couple dozen people.
By providing the information in the quiet confines of their homes (or cars or offices), our intended audience became part of the conversation, albeit remotely. And my client found a new and more effective way to reach its audience while still ensuring solid two-way communication. While Facebook Live may not have been in our initial PR plan, you’d better believe it will be there in the future!