Updated: Jan 11, 2021
Note: Aside from the Ottawa County Farms Market, Northeastern Tribal Health System, The Community Crisis Center, and the Miami Regional Chamber of Commerce, the organizations/businesses featured are not clients. Since 2015, when Facebook enabled a live video function, everyone with a smartphone or webcam can now broadcast their message to the world. From a storytelling perspective, this is wonderful while from a video production perspective, it’s like nails down a chalkboard. Here are some tips to help you have better Facebook Live videos.
Video with Purpose
Before going live you need to ask yourself the following “What is the purpose of this video?”, “How can I make this interesting?”, “How does this video help the viewer?”, and “Where am I going to place this video?”. While not a fun aspect, pre-production notes need to be made. Typically your video should be limited to three major points. Over the years I’ve discovered using past, present, and future as a basic outline when interviewing folks. I also have created a mapping of discussion with topic, reason, and call to action. By having a set agenda with key points, you avoid the risk of rambling, staying on topic, and not overstaying your welcome.
In addition to having an outline ensure you name your video with location, people involved, and the date. While this gives future viewers context and provides a quick reference for you should you need to use the video down the road,it also helps if someone searches a keyword on Facebook.
Vertical Video Syndrome
My biggest beef is the use of “Vertical” video. To the everyday user shooting video like this makes sense; holding the smartphone while shooting video the way you normally would is more comfortable. This is especially true if you are producing selfie-style videos in your car and you know your audience is watching from their smartphone/tablets on social media. Outside of this, vertical video becomes problematic especially when there are two or more people in the shot, an event like an interaction between your children, or something you think is newsworthy. These videos show the participant but not the world around them. While turning your smartphone sideways feels weird it improves your video and enables it to be used in other places like home videos on DVD, news stories, or commercials.
Framing and Composition
In the old day you had to imagine a tic-tac-toe board in the viewfinder to ensure a balanced frame. Smartphones have a “grid” or “Rule of Third” setting helps the user achieve that perfect frame. The photo to the right is a screen grab from a Facebook live. Notice how equally balanced local flower shop own Anita Smith and I are. In the background you see the name of her shop (currently Facebook doesn’t turn the video around when you are using “selfie” mode and they don’t offer “rule of third” grids). As people are scrolling through their newsfeed they quickly know where we are broadcasting from. When it comes to lighting, the sun should be always be off to the side to prevent your subjects from being blinded or extreme back-lighting. Note: While the shadowing on our faces provide a little contrast, subject lighting could have been better if I stepped back a little since I’m taller.
Since Facebook live enables you to switch from “selfie” mode to subject mode including a closeup of an item can be achieved. Again when doing this think about background and lighting.
Be a “Macgyver”
Standing in front of a camera with perfect framing and composition are basic videography skills, think about how you can take that presentation to the next level. In a Facebook live at Marvin’s Supermarket, I shopped for Thanksgiving dinner using a spider tripod attached to a shopping cart. I mapped out the spots that had the items I planned to talk about and ended the video with an interview with the deli manager to discuss how Marvin’s could do the cooking for you. Note: When doing Facebook Lives ensure your phone has continuous cell service especially indoors otherwise the signal will drop, video will become pixeled, or audio will lose sync. When in doubt record then premier your video later.
Have Info Handy
While there are apps and equipment that have the ability to put graphics on the screen, the non-tech savvy will quickly discover having a poster or business card handy is helpful when telling folks about their event or organization. By referencing the poster all the details are not forgotten.
Avoid Copyright Issues
Recently we emceed a Diabetes Awareness 5K run for Northeastern Tribal Health System. During the event we went live. Upon archival we go a message from Facebook telling us we violated Sony’s copyright by playing music they own. In response, Facebook muted that portion of our broadcast. When having a Facebook live avoid using content you did not create.
Use a Thumbnail
When the video is over many think their work is done. It’s not. Review your video on a computer and choose the most interesting frame. People watch videos if they think it’ll be interesting.
Sales Pitch Want to go beyond the smartphone and have a professional Facebook Live complete with multiple cameras, microphones, graphics, and more? We can help!
For More Facebook Live tips visit: https://www.facebook.com/facebookmedia/solutions/facebook-live About the Author
Michael Woodruff is the owner of Woodruff Media Management, a marketing/news agency in Miami, Oklahoma. Mike earned a certificate of Film Production from Central New Mexico Community College and a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication from Missouri Southern State University.