How to use Facebook Live for business

Video experts and social media marketers share their tips for how small businesses can attract and engage customers using Facebook’s live streaming service.

Since Facebook Live, Facebook’s live-streaming app, was launched in the summer of 2015, the service has taken off. According to Facebook, videos (live and otherwise) are viewed on the site more than 4 billion times per day. And Facebook now gives priority to Live videos in the news feed.

[ Related: Facebook, Snapchat and the future of live video ]

So how can businesses, especially small businesses, make use of Facebook’s live-streaming to engage with the platform’s over 1.1 billion active daily users, or at least those users who are or are likely to be customers? Here are seven tips from Facebook Live pros.

[ Related: Facebook levels up its live streaming service with new video tab and developer tools ]

1. Plan what you are going to say/stream. “Before you create a video for Facebook Live, you have to draft a plan,” says Jenny Miranda of Jenny Miranda Public Relations. “The Live video should have a precise goal. Whether you are trying to garner sales, increase followers or simply educate your audience, you have to narrow [it] down and stick to one call to action. You should also research the time of day that would produce the most viewers.”

“Consider broadcasting an interview with your company’s leaders, customers or a prominent influencer, giving a tour around the trade show floor with on-the-spot interviews if you’re attending an event, or hosting a live unveiling or unboxing of a new product with a Q&A,” says Ellen Miller, social media strategist, Metis Communications. Also, “try to plan locations ahead of time to test lighting and sound conditions.”

“One of the ways small businesses can start utilizing Facebook Live is by presenting valuable information about their products or services,” says John Boitnott, an online marketing consultant. “For example, a car dealer could use the platform to do vehicle walk-arounds of new models, allowing viewers to ask questions, get immediate answers and see the car up close without having to visit the dealership,” he explains. “This is not only an effective way for businesses to build interest in their products, but build trust with consumers as well.”

2. Promote your Facebook Live video in advance (letting people know when you’ll be live). “Be sure to let people know when you plan on going live and what they can expect,” says Shama Hyder, founder & CEO, The Marketing Zen Group. “For example, we host Shama TV on Facebook live every Friday. The community knows this, and has come to appreciate the advance notice. Even though the topic varies each Friday, covering a different aspect of marketing and business, the general reliance creates a sense of excitement and anticipation.”

“At least one week prior to the event, you should turn to all social media resources to promote the [Facebook Live] video,” says Jon Minners, senior marketing manager, Vault.com, a career intelligence site. “This would include traditional posts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to get the word out. You should also shoot short video promos to include on your social media channels, including Snapchat and Instagram,” he says. “In a way, you are promoting the event, but also promoting the person users might see if they turn on the live stream. You want to get people used to the players who will be involved in the Live feed.”

3. Practice what you are going to say/stream before you go live to the public. “You can actually do a practice run of your video before you go live,” says Jonathan English, managing director, Skeleton, a video production company. “This is perfect if you're nervous, new [to Facebook Live] or just want to get a handle of the interface before the big event. All you have to do is click on the 'Live' button in the menu bar to begin setting up Facebook Live video,” he says. “Then select who can view your video by clicking on the button below your name (it will probably say 'Friends' by default). Once you've selected 'Only Me' as your sharing option, you can begin solo Facebook Live streaming by hitting 'Go Live.’ Nobody else will be able to view your stream, but you'll see the live video exactly as others will.”

4. Make sure you have a good internet/Wi-Fi connection. “It’s crucial that you’re prepared with a quality internet connection [for when] you go live,” says Madeleine Smith, assistant account executive, Roberts Communications. “If the video quality is pixilated or choppy or you’re fiddling around with the camera trying to get the right angle, it will likely turn viewers off and they’ll [tune out].”

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