The internet is full of video content. Video streaming alone accounts for twice as much internet traffic as social media and, by 2019, video content is expected to make up more than 80% of all U.S. internet traffic. There is a pile of information and entertainment to be found online and video is the king of the hill.

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With more than a million hours worth of video being consumed every day, it’s no wonder that the internet’s major players are taking notice and taking action. Google and Amazon have both purchased multiple video services and technologies over the past several years. But they are, in many ways, playing catch up to the true titans of user-generated content – social media.

You can’t talk about social media without talking about Facebook. It’s worth remembering that Facebook isn’t just the social media feed that we all have a love/hate relationship with. They’re also world leaders in the marketing, news, and tech spaces. As of this writing, the Facebook ecosystem also includes Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, Messenger, Moments, Mentions, Facebook Video, and so much more.

Facebook’s newest adventure in user-generated content is called Facebook Live.

Facebook Live Basics

Facebook live, at its most basic, is a live video broadcasting system that lives inside of the Facebook environment. The live streaming service is available to individual users as well as pages but it is currently only available via the Facebook mobile app or through the Facebook Mentions app which is available for verified page accounts only. What this breaks down to is that Facebook Live is only available on mobile devices (unless you use the API integration which we’ll talk about later).

That may sound limiting – and it is in some ways – but Facebook has also stuffed their live streaming services with some pretty smart features. First off, you can choose your target audience for streaming. For pages with a wide audience (such as international ministries), you can segment your audience by language, location, or interest and deliver your content to the people who care. And, while you’re streaming video to your followers, you’re able to see, respond, and react to viewer comments, likes, and mentions in real time. There are also some filters and creative tools that let you visually mix it up on your video feed.

If you’re using the Facebook Mentions app, you have access to even MORE audience data and have a correspondingly greater potential to reach new audiences with live video.

How It Works

Getting started with Facebook live is super easy. From a page or profile, start a new post but, instead of writing something or posting a picture, choose the new, Facebook Live icon. You’ll be prompted to add a description and choose an audience for your broadcast. Once you’ve done that, you hit “Go Live” and there you have it – you’re live!

When you go live, Facebook will send a push notification to everyone who follows you to let them know that you’re broadcasting. Keep in mind that it may take a few minutes for people to respond to that notification so it’s best to be live for at least 10 minutes and to wait at least a few minutes before talking about anything important (such as event details or special announcements) so that people have time to log in to hear it.

The Facebook feed algorithm prioritizes Facebook Live video streams while they’re live so, when users log into Facebook, they will see your live video at the top of their feed. When you’re done broadcasting, your video gets posted to your page or profile activity feed just like any other posted content so that people can go back and watch the video later.

Why Did Facebook Create This?

The truth is, Facebook is sort of the new kid on the block when it comes to live video streaming online. They’re late to the game, in fact, and have a lot of competition already from companies like Youtube, Periscope, Snapchat, and Twitch. So why are they launching Facebook Live now?

Studies show that millennials are disconnecting with Facebook and moving to platforms like Snapchat, which has billed itself as the “anti-Facebook” for the new generation. Facebook is being seen more and more as less personal and more informational. To combat this, Facebook is working to create new services and offerings that will keep younger users on the platform and maybe even woo some of their lost users back to Facebook.

Even if Facebook Live (and other new efforts like it) doesn’t bring young people back, it WILL serve their current user base fairly well by providing immediate and exciting video content from celebrities and other content providers. That kind of connection plays very well with Facebook’s current, older user demographics. In fact, many news outlets and internet personalities have already adopted the Live service and are using it enthusiastically!

It’s worth making mention that the two greatest factors that play into the success of any online platform are the size of the user base and the backing capital to keep it going. Facebook has more than enough of both of these things so it seems like Facebook Live is here to stay.

1.6 BILLION

Monthly Facebook users

(User base grew 14% last year alone.)

The Specs

As I mentioned before, Facebook Live is currently available via the Facebook mobile app and the Facebook Mentions app. Here are some of the technical limitations that go along with that:

As I mentioned before, Facebook Live is currently available via the Facebook mobile app and the Facebook Mentions app. Here are some of the technical limitations that go along with that:

  • MUST have a high-speed connection – WiFi connection is preferred but it can run on a 4G cellular network as well.
  • Maximum Video Resolution: 720p (720×1280), 30 fps, 2500Kbps
  • The longest you can stream live video for is 90 Minutes.

Again, this is all only available via iOS and Android mobile devices. Unless you use the Facebook Live API.

Facebook Live API

For those of us who want to go beyond the phone or tablet for our video streaming hardware, Facebook has created an API. This API will allow us to use full broadcast systems and software for Facebook Live video which means that we can use professional video cameras, multiple video cameras, video mixing software, graphics, and overlays. We can use Facebook Publishing Tools to integrate the API with almost any encoding software that uses RTMP or RTMPS such as Livestream, OBS, Wirecast, Xsplit, or FFmpeg. With the API, we can provide full, broadcast quality, HD video to our Facebook followers.

You can also use the API to broadcast from other systems like conference room systems, laptops, or even drones! Want to add Facebook Live capabilities to your custom-built, native app? The API lets us do that and so much more.

What’s Next?

So how do churches, ministries, and nonprofits make use Facebook Live in their communication strategies? Here are a few ideas.

Sunday Morning Services
Churches can stream their Sunday morning services straight to Facebook. This has a few advantages for less-engaged or less regular churchgoers. For starters, Facebook will send a notification that services are about to start straight to their phones! The call to action has fairly low resistance, too. They don’t have to go anywhere or sign up for anything. They don’t even have to be on a computer – church is on their phone. You can engage with viewers via the comments and answer questions in real time during the service!

Video Announcements
With the audience segmentation tools, churches, ministries, and nonprofits can send video announcements straight to the appropriate audiences. Want to get your youth group excited about a special event? Facebook Live ‘em! Want to let your volunteers know about a change in plans? Use Facebook Live to get their attention (remember, Facebook will send a push notification straight to their phones) and let them know what’s going on in real time.

Live Fundraising Event
Have a special event or fundraiser coming up? Broadcast the event live to increase audience (and potential donor) engagement to a wider audience. Facebook Live allows you to include people who can’t make it to a physical event. And when people feel involved with an organization, they’re far more likely to give their time and money.

There’s something magical about getting to see the impact that your donations have made in the lives of others. Facebook Live allows organizations to easily and quickly share live, personal experiences from the mission field. When donors can watch a well being dug or see the sheer joy on a child’s face when they receive a care package, they instantly become far more involved with your mission. It’s a truly powerful way to impact your followers.

Life Change Stories
Have good news to share? Do it LIVE! Whether church, ministry, or nonprofit, we’re all in the business of creating positive change. Share those victories! If you get in the habit of letting your audience know that you’re winning and sharing those victories in real-time – when YOU’RE excited about success – you create a priceless culture of celebration.

However you use Facebook Live, you’re generating content that can be used as marketing collateral for years to come. All that video gets added to your Facebook activity feed and is essentially archived forever – or as long as you want it to be, at least – which allows you to make the most out of your experiences, announcements, and content.


 

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