When Facebook Live was officially introduced in April last year, it instantly became a game-changer. Livestreaming, used to be confined to dedicated streaming platforms like Twitch, has finally reached the mainstream. Anyone with a Facebook account can simply grab their phone and start their own live show without much ado or technical know-how.
However, social media marketers should conform to higher standards of production if they want their content to stand out. Here are the essential tools that you need if you want to take your Facebook Live game to the next level:
Get Your Broadcasting Rig Ready
For a professional Facebook Live production, a smartphone alone just won't cut it. You need to invest in a good rig and internet connection to livestream properly. Preferably, you would also need to have another person handle the tech (i.e. someone who will push the "Go Live" and "End Broadcast" buttons for you) while you're in front of the camera. For more creative/complicated This tech person can also add titles, change scenes, or insert pictures on the fly while you're on cam.
As for the rig (computer) itself, you can either go for a pricier Mac that you can use out of the box, or you can go for a cheaper PC with parts that you can choose and assemble yourself (if you want to).
Should you choose to buy a PC, these are the baselines:
*A quad-core processor.
*At LEAST 8GB of Ram. If possible, aim for 16GB or more.
*A dedicated-graphics card. Theoretically, you can get by with just using integrated graphics alone, but having a dedicated graphics card to do the heavy computational lifting will make things a whole lot easier for you.
*(Optional) Two display monitors. One for displaying and conducting the broadcast in, and the other for controlling the recording software (e.g. Wirecast or OBS Studio)
For those who don't have computers powerful enough to handle both the broadcasting and capturing parts of the livestream, you can use a two-computer set-up. Conduct your interview on the first computer (using a tool like Skype or Zoom), and the second computer will be used to capture the audio/video and to broadcast it onto Facebook Live.
Your internet connection's upload speed should be at least 10mbps, preferably higher. If you have an interviewee or a co-host, their upload speed should be at least 10mbps too. Check your internet speed through Speedtest.net or Testmy.net before going live.
As for the recording equipment, it's imperative to use external microphones and webcams instead of, say, your Macbook's built-in camera and mic. And you don't have to buy studio-grade equipment either. For starters, you can use USB microphones. There are high quality models out there that are priced below $100 like the Audio-Technica ATR21000-USB or the Blue Snowball. For the camera, if you have the budget for it, go for a dedicated video camera that you can connect to your computer via an HDMI capture card. Otherwise, you can use a webcam like the relatively inexpensive Logitech C920.
For the most part, you can get by with natural lighting. But you'll be amazed with the step up in quality you'll get if you invest in a couple of soft boxes. The StudioFX lighting kit is cheap at $126, and is perfectly suited to most people's lighting needs.
Pick Your Broadcasting Software
There's a whole market of broadcasting software out there. Web apps like Belive.tv and Crowdcast.io are specifically made with live broadcasting in mind (they usually come bundled with features like screen sharing, screen comments, and analytics) and others like Zoom come with Facebook Live integration right out of the box.
However, for those who want to have a better degree of control over their broadcast, a dedicated live broadcasting tool like Wirecast or OBS Studio is a must. These tools allow you to set-up different kinds of features like camera angles, pre-show segments, intro reels, transitions, and the like before you start a broadcast. Luckily enough, the open source OBS Studio is absolutely free, and you can find lots of tutorials for it on the web.
The only drawbacks for OBS Studio are its unintuitive interface and the fact that you are only limited to broadcasting on one live video platform at a time. Mac users would also have to download additional tools (some commonly used ones include Soundflower and Sound Siphon) to route the audio from their recording device to OBS.
Wirecast on the other hand, costs $495, though it is significantly more powerful and robust than OBS Studio. One, it actually allows you to broadcast on different live streaming platforms at the same time. Two, Wirecast is connected directly to the Facebook API which means that you can publish your livestream to you Facebook page, event, or profile all at once, as well as monitor reactions and see how many viewers you have during the stream.
Just take note that both Wirecast and OBS Studio are not video conferencing tools. If you have a co-host or interviewee, you'd have to capture the audio and video from your video conferencing tool of choice first (Skype and Zoom are usually used for this purpose) before you bring them into Wirecast/OBS Studio.
Setting Up Your Scenes
Different tools have different methods on how to set up scenes. The steps detailed below are for Wirecast, but it's probably similar to how you would go about setting up scenes in OBS Studio too.
*Collect all the different elements of your scenes. These are: a) a backdrop or background, b) people- could be you, a co-host, and an interviewee, c) other layers like logos, graphics, music, and video clips.
*Get your pre-show rolling. A pre-show isn't the main program itself, but rather just something you play before the broadcast to draw in viewers. It's best to have a countdown timer displayed during the pre-show, along with a shot of you (and your co-host/s or interviewee/s), plus any other logos or graphics overlay you want.
*Start your intro. You can go about this in a multitude of ways, depending on how creative you are. You can use a simple static image with a short music clip playing in the background. Or you can even have your own short intro video to make your production feel more professional.
*Determine what will be shown on the screen during the broadcast. Are you sharing the screen with another person? Do you want a shot of you and multiple person/s side-by-side? Will you be sharing your screen with the audience? Knowing what will be shown on the screen makes it easier for you to determine how to compose your shots (as well as prepare the tools and tech that you need for the scenes themselves).
Scheduling Your Show
The sweet spot for scheduling your live videostream is one week before it's supposed to air. This gives you a lot of time to promote and prepare for it, but is still short enough that the event won't be erased in people's minds.
If you're using Wirecast, you can schedule the show directly from the tool. Just go to Output Settings and select Facebook Live as a new destination. Choose your page and enter the needed info (title and description, intended date and time of broadcast).
Alternatively, you can schedule directly on Facebook. Just go to your page, click on Publishing Tools, click the Live button, and enter your broadcast's details.
Test If Everything's Working
On the day of the live stream, make sure that everything on your end is running smoothly. Use a wired internet connection instead of connecting to your internet connection using Wifi. Use Speedtest.net to check if the connection upload speed is up to par. Mute any phones or alarms, and make sure everyone in your office or household knows that you are broadcasting that day.
As for your computer, it's best to turn off unnecessary apps that are running in the background so as to free up some memory.
Start The Broadcast
You can have a test broadcast before your show just to make sure that the technical side of things is running okay. Edit your scheduled live post on Facebook about thirty minutes before it starts, and you'll be able to see a preview of your broadcast in the window.
At first glance, all of the work that goes into setting up and preparing for a broadcast can be too technical and complicated, but the pay off is definitely worth it. It's just a matter of following a checklist, and knowing exactly what goes on your viewers' end.