Facebook Live has been around a while, but with the nationwide shelter-in-place, it’s getting more use than ever. From in-home concerts to meetings to training…and especially for things like church services, Facebook Live has become the go-to option.
Enter technical gaffes and difficulties.
While Facebook Live is very easy in theory, things can go wrong. And we may not be able to control solar spots, thunderstorms, or that crazy guy who ran his truck into a tower. However, we can take some steps to prevent our Facebook Live from becoming a Facebook frustration. Here are 8 simple tips to keep your viewers tuned in and prevent a barrage of “I can’t hear!” and “It’s frozen!” comments, or, even worse, a mass exodus of viewers who just turned it off.
- Avoid multiple streaming. “A dream within a dream” may be a famous line from The Princess Bride, but a stream within a stream is NOT recommended. In other words, when you go live on Facebook, you are already streaming. It is not a good idea to try to simultaneously stream audio or video. If you find a cool video you must share during your Live program, download it ahead of time. Do not ask your technology to stream while it’s already streaming. You will likely encounter skips, stops, and buffering.
- Use a reliable internet connection. Ethernet is actually best. Absent that, reliable wireless internet is recommended. Do not rely on your phone data. Phone data is subject to dead zones, high winds, bad weather, and general moodiness. For example, even in my city, there are dead zones on the two business streets: Avalon and Woodward. If you can’t talk on the phone or browse the web at a redlight there, you cannot Facebook Live there using phone data.
- Regarding phones…phones matter. If you plan to use a phone for Facebook Live, don’t rely on the 59.99 off-brand phone you got at Walmart. There’s a reason off-brand phones are cheap. I won’t go into the inner workings. Let’s just say that off-brand phones do not have as many of those little thingies that keep them connected to the good towers as a higher-end phone has. So, find your friend with the iPhone X instead of using the Samsung A24 you bought for your Straight Talk account. Sorry, when it comes to streaming, you get what you pay for.
- If you plan to go “live” regularly, invest in a decent webcam or wireless accessible digital camera, and please…please get a tripod or stand. Don’t try to “hold it still” for an hour, thereby giving your viewers motions sickness.
- You, the streamer, should be the only one online if you are using an internet connection that cannot support multiple devices. Most internet plans are priced by speed and by the number of devices they can support. If you got the 29.99 plan instead of the 59.99 plan, you probably got the plan that only supports a device or two. That’s no problem as long as you don’t have 4 people online while you are trying to go live. You need to go online solo.
- A video of a video never translates well. If you cannot embed, reconsider showing that cool video (that you should have downloaded ahead of time), especially if Aunt Petunia is trying to shakily hold the camera still.
- Get help ahead of time, and make a plan. There’s a reason the curtains stay closed until the play begins. The audience doesn’t want to see the stagehands rearranging furniture or the lead running across the stage with half her costume on. Don’t press the “Live” button until everything is ready. Get a good sound person to adjust the sound. Have the camera ready and still, the supplemental audio or video already downloaded, and everything set.
- Consider YouTube Live. Not everyone has Facebook. However, everyone (or almost everyone) can access YouTube. Yes, you do need a Youtube account, and you need to instigate YouTube Live 48 hours ahead of time so they can grant you access. But it works very much like Facebook Live, and it can be less glitchy. In addition, all your non-social media people can view it. At the very least, you should download your Facebook Live after the fact and place it on YouTube. Your non-social-media members will appreciate not being left out.
So there are some easy, almost common sense tips to help your Facebook Live go a little more smoothly. We can’t control everything, but we can control our own knowledge and preparation. Happy Live-ing!