How to Become a Facebook Live Star: An Expert Guide for Regular People

Photo: Courtesy of Kim Kardashian West / @kimkardashian

Photo: Courtesy of Kim Kardashian West / @kimkardashian

Lindsey Vonn is streaming on the slopes of New Zealand; Ricky Gervais is broadcasting from the bathtub; Ricky Martin is checking out his new live cam: Welcome to the wonderful world of Facebook Live, the broadcast feature giving everyone with a video phone and a Wi-Fi signal the ability to record, share, and watch videos in real time. “It’s like having a TV camera in your pocket all the time,” explained Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg when he announced the news—via live broadcast, naturally.

The social media platform saw its first smartphone light of day when the service was extended to public figures last summer, and according to Facebook spokesperson Chelsea Maughan Kohler, it was quickly fast-tracked due to popular demand. To that end, we turned to a few of the swiftest early adopters who have already begun to cultivate serious followings, and seemingly overnight. Here, they shine a light on the ins and outs of becoming a Facebook Live star.

Tell People Ahead of Time
Let people know when you will be broadcasting and what it will be about with a post, Facebook or otherwise, a day in advance. This will help heighten anticipation and likelihood for viewership, particularly if you can use this opportunity to hint at a special announcement or an action to come. Of course, you might not want to broadcast the gender of your soon-to-be baby to your entire network. So instead, go live in Groups and Events, which will allow you to share it with group members or event guests. While it’s not always possible to provide adequate warning, some notice is better than none at all, even if it’s just a few hours.

Prior to going live, craft a compelling description that captures your audience’s attention and provides context. Notifications that you are live pre-populate with the phrase, “Your friend [insert your first name] is now live,” so no need to reiterate the fact. People who have recently interacted with your posts will get alerts when you start your broadcast, but you can grow the base by reminding viewers to tap on the “Follow” button (located in the bottom-right corner) and opt in to receive a notification the next time you go live.

Consider Technical Factors
Check to make sure you have a strong signal before you start your broadcast. If you can’t find a Wi-Fi network nearby, 4G is the next best thing, but a data-only connection may cause your video to load slowly, cut out intermittently, or cost you an additional monthly fee depending on your cellular plan. When you have a weak signal, the “Go Live” button will be grayed out. If you experience a drop in signal after you start, move to a place with a better signal; the app will automatically reconnect and your broadcast will resume.

Pick a setting that has sufficient light, whether natural or man-made, and isn’t located directly behind you, which, according to Kohler, will wash you out. If adding one of Facebook Live’s available filters won’t fix the problem, there are inexpensive attachments that can provide a permanent lighting solution. For example, Lauren and girlfriend Jill broadcast during frank conversations on diversity in Hollywood, and sans industry-standard bulbs, with the help of a simple ring light. “You’ll look as good as you do in person . . . or better,” they say.

Do Your Homework
Get a game plan together by creating a mini storyboard that will inform the necessary setup, from camera angles to any film equipment you may need. Before broadcasting a live Q&A, use Events to schedule the session and spring for a tripod to account for the extended period of recording time. You can’t rely on the length of your arm to provide the same wide-frame shot that shows how you’re engaging with the subject. “Even if you’re using a fancier camera,” explains Kohler, “it’s still unedited and instant, which helps maintain that raw feeling.” Leave room for spontaneity, and if something goes awry, take it in stride. “People are more forgiving when it’s live,” explains Social Media Manager Anne Johnson. “It’s like Saturday Night Live—the breaks are the best part!”

Embrace the Live Factor
During your broadcast, you’ll see the number of viewers and a real-time stream of comments, which you can choose to respond to live. The ability to relate directly with commenters is what gives Facebook Live a leg up on other video-centric platforms, particularly in the context of a tutorial. Take Kara Andretta, a baking blogger based in Buffalo, New York, who broadcasts to followers during weekly instructional videos on various culinary topics, from making crème brûlée to decorating a cake. “The two-way interaction is why this beats doing something on YouTube with passive viewers,” says Andretta. “People who may not be able to ever meet you in person can interact live with you and they dig that.”

When responding to commenters, Kohler encourages Livers to address them by name. “People really like that interactivity,” says Kohler, “and want to come back to a place where they feel acknowledged.” Switch the front and back cameras of your phone as you alternate between replying to viewers and recording the scene. Kohler suggests providing the occasional context clues throughout for those who are late. To give viewers time to join, consider stalling for a few seconds at the beginning of your broadcast by prompting them with a warm-up question before diving into the topic of discussion.

Shortly after New York–based fashion publicist Sonia Hendrix gained early access to the live video feature, the city was struck with one of the biggest blizzards in history, and she turned what to some is considered small talk—the weather—into a bigger conversation. “I began reporting on the weather, general traffic conditions, and showed footage of pedestrians and businesses,” Hendrix said. The video received an influx of views, along with comments from across the country citing the up-close appeal. “Rather than a city on lockdown, as was reported on the news, my followers saw a charming Upper East Side neighborhood that was covered in snow but still bustling. It was a blast!”

Know What’s Considered Broadcast-Worthy
On average, people watch a video more than three times longer when it is live compared with when it’s not, according to Kohler. The lengthier the broadcast, the more likely others are to discover the footage and, in turn, invite their Facebook friends to watch. Kohler recommends that you go live for at least 10 minutes, and although you technically have the ability to extend this up to an hour and a half, the content needs to be worthy of this extra camera time.

“Being authentic, whatever that thing is that you’re into, really makes a difference in allowing people to shine,” says Kohler of what makes a broadcast-worthy topic of discussion, citing viral videos like exploding watermelons and never-ending Hula-Hooping. “There isn’t anything that’s off-limits.”

[ By: Maria Ward ] [ Vogue ] [ Read More ]