Facebook Live Tips

While it may seem like it’s been around a lot longer, Facebook LIVE for brands is barely a year old, debuting right before Christmas 2015. Already your audience is not only savvy about the platform, they outright expect you will program on it for everything from local events to breaking news and big weather.  In this post you’ll get some ideas culled from some of the folks on the frontlines of how to make it work for them, day in and day out. 

Simply put: it’s going to get even bigger. We all know that Facebook wants it that way and the algorithm is set to prioritize Facebook LIVE events in your fans’ feeds. But, perhaps just like Facebook Messenger you could expect to see Facebook LIVE as its own separate app.

“Facebook Live will continue to evolve as a mechanism for immediate feedback. I think they’ll do some retooling to incorporate or spin off into a separate product the live voting features many of us have had success with in recent weeks”.  Glen Hale Executive Director of Digital Content at Raycom Media
Glen is talking about the many stations in the fall that started leveraging the platform to do more than provide live coverage of events.   Using a combination of software and some coding many stations developed content ideas for instant and ongoing real-time engagement on a topic. Here are some examples:


Raycom’s WAFF TV in Huntsville was an early adopter of these “either-or” polls to engage its viewers on everything from ‘Bama and Auburn football to holiday preparation. 

“Facebook Live remains an essential tool in reaching our station’s audience on social media. The biggest change our station has experienced with Live is the addition of dedicated hardware to route our many devices tied into our newsroom router. We use freeware to help produce and distribute the feed.”    William McClain WAFF Digital Content Manager

Gray’s KWCH in Wichita was also aggressive in leveraging Facebook Live in November and December for polling. But, the station that is well known for award winning coverage of breaking news and weather events has also made Facebook LIVE a key component of all of its brand-building events.

“In the case of the Excel workplace shooting (three dead, 14 wounded) we were able to assign a reporter/anchor to exclusively broadcast on Facebook LIVE from the beginning of the incident until the end. Jacob Albracht was able to keep the viewer on their desktops and their mobile devices up-to-date on a quickly evolving story of interest to our entire viewing area. We were able to identify the shooter through tips on Facebook.”   Brian Gregory KWCH News Director

 Brian went on to point out how critical the platform has become as a complementary piece to his often life-saving weather information in a state that gets everything from blizzards to frequent tornadoes.

“We see the strongest engagement in the days leading up to a huge weather event or weather change. It’s just part of the playbook, now,” said Gregory. 

Gregory’s observations dovetail with the consistent findings we see in SmithGeiger client research about the acute need for advance warnings on nuisance and severe weather. If a storm is happening on a Saturday many stations have adopted a “72 hour rule” whereby they not only showcase and explain the event more thoroughly on-air but also kick-in Facebook Live with their meteorologists in the day ahead of the events.

“As Hurricane Matthew threatened Florida we realized we could tap into a massive audience hungry for storm information. TV coverage and Facebook Live simultaneously seemed like a daunting task, but its execution was painless. Viewers wanted the perks Facebook Live offered. A live look behind the scenes of a major hurricane, the opportunity to ask direct questions to our staff and to pass along the storm stories in real time. Facebook Live very quickly became appointment television for our viewers and a cornerstone of our coverage.”   Steve Weagle WPTV Chief Meteorologist

So, moving forward here are four tips on how to leverage Facebook Live to help you in the new year as you amp up your overall market impact and reach:

1. “Traffic” Facebook Live: Decide weekly which weather and/or news Facebook Live streams you will pre-plan to add value to your brand. Will it be that nuisance or severe weather event or perhaps that big spring festival? Go into every week with at least three on your docket. Tell your on-air viewers before the event that you will do it on FB Live and back-sell afterwards that you did as a tactic to solidify their loyalty.  

2. 72 hour weather rule: Ahead of a severe or nuisance weather event decide how, who and when you will provide a Facebook Live to answer your viewers’ questions about the upcoming event. Don’t just do it day of- do it three days out and capture all the trajectory of their interest. In a world where many increasingly use mobile as their first screen for weather be their consistent two-way weather provider.   

3. Crowdsource: First off- “like” the FB Live participants after every one of them. This triggers the algorithm so your future content has a better shot of showing up in their feeds. Encourage your fans during the events to send in their information, pictures and/or videos, especially for weather. FB Live has quickly become the fastest way to get information about breaking news and weather when public safety people are busy handling the chaos. 

4. FB Live vs your app: This area is clearly evolving. Some stations and groups are adamant in wanting breaking news exclusive content on their app. Others want maximum reach and put the same product on both. Some offer a mix where they will start coverage on FB Live and guide people over to their app. Decide ahead of time- and be nimble enough to shift as the story evolves as you answer the question: REACH vs REVENUE?