Over the past few months, I’ve introduced Facebook Live episodes to the content of LifeWay Pastors, joining the website and Pastor Talk podcast. After getting advice from one person who had experience, and a couple of test runs, I jumped in.
While I have years of experience using all kinds of social media, I was apprehensive about live video. After 11 videos over the last four months, I have learned the following.
1. Technical delays are not unusual.
I start getting ready thirty minutes in advance of going live. Others may be more proficient using Facebook Live than I am, but, inevitably, I am delayed by technical issues. Sometimes the browser will not recognize my camera without fits and starts. Other times, the mic defaults to the wrong input. One time, when recording with my phone instead of my laptop, the live-feed died down before I was done and I did not know it.
Solution: Until you are comfortable with the process leading up to going live, give yourself plenty of time to get ready.
2. It’s difficult to evaluate how well or how poorly an episode will do, so don’t fret it.
As with most online content, it is difficult to know which Facebook Live will get the most views. For that reason, I do not attempt to determine in advance which episode will perform better than another. I am not sure it is even possible. Add Facebook’s algorithm into the mix and predicting whether a video will be widely is not likely.
Solution: Focus on providing content that will benefit someone in your audience. Every video does not have to be a home run. Singles and doubles are good, too.
3. Few people tune-in when it’s “live.”
Even though I’ve tried to be consistent with the day, time, and frequency, it does not seem to make any difference in the number of people tuning in live. The LifeWay Pastors Facebook page has more than 3,000 “fans,” yet a typical 8-10 minute video will garner less than ten viewers during the live broadcast. The overwhelming majority watch later when it is convenient for them.
Solution: Post the link to the video to your Facebook page during the days following to catch viewers who missed the live feed.
4. You can’t be anyone else, so be yourself.
If you preach regularly you already have experience being in front of people, even if you have not been in front of a camera. If you are not trying to mimic anyone in your preaching, you should be able to be yourself doing a Facebook Live.
Solution: Don’t talk to the camera; talk to the people behind the camera. Talk or teach in the same way you talk to or teach people in person. God made you unique. Don’t downplay it be pretending to be someone else.
5. If you have the money to boost the video, do it.
Facebook is in the business of making money—as if the constant deluge of such stories did not constantly remind us of that fact. They make money from advertising. And, they make money when we pay to have our content made available to more people than will normally see it.
No matter how many people like your page, only a small fraction see your content organically. If you want a larger portion to see it, you’ll almost always need to pay. (The big exception, of course, is if a video goes viral organically. But, those are exceptions.)
Solution: Use some of your social media budget to boost your Facebook Live videos. This will get them in front of new viewers every new episode.
Facebook Live is like every other tech tool. It can be beneficial for those who take the time to learn strategies that generate the most output for your input. In the meantime, learn from my experience and be that much farther ahead.