In the past few weeks, I’ve embarked on a new experiment in digital ministry – Facebook live! This is a very popular method of sharing on social media. I’m learning as I go – and have made some mistakes along the way. However, with a little pre-planning and practice, the results have already been good enough for us to use to share our message. Remember “good enough” is often okay with your audience – be transparent about your learning curve!
Here’s some basic tips to get you started.
- I used an iPhone 6. Most any smart phone will do.
- I have an attachment for lenses for the phone. I did not use them in this case – but could have and had them handy. In my case, they screw onto a phone case easily. I can then get a shot from further away, focus in, etc.
- Microphone: I used a small and powerful “shotgun” mic designed for a phone camera. Audio quality is more important than video quality in most cases. Don’t overlook this! IN most cases, I hope the speaker has a microphone set up in the room. My mic will pick that up. The hardest part is when people in the room ask questions, without a mic. It’s good policy to have your speaker amplified for the attenders in the room anyways – get into that practice!
- Tripod: Also important. Test it out beforehand, make sure the attachments work, and you can move it easily as needed. Mine is sturdy, but also light (I leave it in my trunk). Make sure you have all the brackets and gadgets to attach all your pieces (microphone, lights) to the tripod.
- Lighting: I made sure the room/speaker was well-lit. I do have a small, bright LED light that attached to my phone for close up filming. I also have a portable lighting kit. In general, I didn’t worry too much about the lighting, as long as the sound was good.
- Power: This takes a lot of electricity. I prefer always to have everything plugged in if possible – I have an extension cord (and tape to secure it to the floor) with me in my kit. Back up battery power is also a good idea. Make sure everything is fully charged before you start as well.
- Laptop: Remember it will be hard/impossible to use your phone to comment on posts while you are “live”. I had a separate laptop set up to watch the feed, and comment. Someone else can also be assigned to run this and comment on the live feed and answer questions.
You need to broadcast from your Facebook page, not your personal account. This requires using the Facebook phone app, or the pages app (I just used the general one). My microphone has an option to hookup headphones so I can hear what is coming through the mic.
Wifi: make sure it is strong, or you have good signal. If you are on wi-fi – shut off all your other phone notifications. They won’t appear in the video later, but they will be distracting to you. Also, sometimes they can interfere with the microphone and produce static.
Make sure you are in “landscape” mode before you start! I was not the first time I did this. My audience saw everything sideways when I turned the camera to fix it after I had begun filming. Once you are live the phone will NOT turn to another view. You must turn it off and turn it back on.
Other helpful things:
I created a few graphics to post on the page a few minutes before – “Please be patient, we will go live soon” etc. Also a “technical difficulties” post just in case!
Decide if you want to film in parts, or one big “event”. You might want to take a break after each speaker, etc so people who watch later can do so in smaller parts.
Announcements and introductions need to be both for people in the room and online. This thinking is new for me. When you begin broadcasting – make an announcement to the folks watching at home – how will they ask questions, etc. Remember that if an in-person audience member asks a quiet question, you (or the speaker) might need to repeat it so everyone online can also hear it. You can type the in-room questions into your comment box online as well.
There is a delay between what you are filming, and what is shared on Facebook. Remember this for live questions and answers. I have found having someone just keep track of the questions, and repeat/ask them all at once in the room helps with this delay. Having someone watch this on a laptop will let you know how it is going in the time of the delay.
Afterwards: Facebook will ask you if you want to post the video to your page. YES. then you can share, etc.
As a page administrator – you can also download the video as an mp4 file and then upload it to your YouTube channel. This is very helpful – for sharing later, in newsletters, embedding on your webpage, on email. Set that up beforehand and you can upload it quickly and have it ready to go.
Remember the live stream is not always well attended as it is happening. That’s a really good thing – many folks might simply not be available during the live part, and will watch later. Don’t be disappointed if folks tune in late, leave the broadcast, etc. They are home listening and doing what they need to do. Isn’t it great they can be a part of this also?
A simple search on “Facebook live tips” will give you even more information – I suggest you read all you can, and talk to others about what might work best for you.
Use this for smaller events and notices! My advice about is for a bigger talk or “event””. How about a series of small interviews with meeting members, on why they are a Quaker? Or a simple advertisement for an upcoming potluck? Are you at a witness or protest? Share the news live and ask for prayers and support! Don’t create new events – just broadcast what is already happening to share it.
Be willing to experiment! This is a great way to reach people. You can always also have people “in the room” – this adds more viewers. What have you learned in your experiments with Facebook live?
Quaker Exploration and DIscourse – a year of Quaker discussions in New York Yearly Meeting, broadcast on Facebook live. Simple and effective!