4 Tips for Using Facebook Live for Your Small Business

Facebook Live is a cheap marketing tool that can get you more customers and more followers if you use it right.
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Facebook Live is free, doesn’t take long to learn and can be quickly implemented in your marketing plan. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Live video has become a hugely influential platform for small businesses, helping them drive new customers to their stores and restaurants and gain valuable exposure for very little investment.

Several platforms exist for streaming live videos — Periscope, Ustream and YouTube, to name a few — but Facebook, with more than 1 billion users, remains the biggest and most powerful one on the web. Plus, it’s free.

“Over the last year, Facebook Live has grown from a few elite users to a livestreaming service used by businesses, influencers and governments,” said Kelly Ehlers, founder and president of Ideas That Evoke, a Madison, Wisconsin-based social media and public relations agency. “Luckily, using this platform doesn’t take long to learn and it can be quickly implemented in your marketing plan.”

Live videos do more than engage users with the content they’re watching at that moment. “Facebook Live is a great tool for making your fans see the value they get in following your page,” said Andrew Leger, senior account executive and brand strategist at Serendipit Consulting, a Phoenix-based marketing and public relations firm. “Seeing value in following your page also makes them more likely to interact with your non-video posts.”

Ehlers, Leger and other experts shared tips for making the best use of Facebook Live.

Promote your event

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Promote your event days before you go live in order to inform customers of what they will gain by tuning in. (Photo: Chinnapong/Shutterstock)

The first rule of Facebook Live, according to Andrew Leger, senior account executive at Serendipit Consulting, a Phoenix-based marketing and public relations firm, is to advertise your live video in advance. If your followers don’t know you’re streaming, they won’t tune in.

Leger recommends promoting the event via your social media accounts and email blasts in the days before you plan to go live. “Don’t just tell your customers that you’ll be streaming; tell them what they’ll learn and gain from watching. “Create incentives for followers to watch,” he advised.

To facilitate audience building, schedule your events at consistent times, whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly, said Alex Csedrik, an online communications strategist for GWP Inc., an ad agency in Montclair, New Jersey. “This way, users can anticipate the next one,” he said.

Get the basics right

Before you jump into your first video, Leger said there are a few key things to check. While they may sound obvious, getting one of them wrong can derail your whole live event or lead to low-quality video.

Leger said to make sure your location is well-lit and that you have a very strong wi-fi connection. You don’t want your video to suddenly stop streaming. Ehlers advised making sure your host is audible. Do a dry run to test these factors.

Create worthwhile content

Certain events and topics work better for live videos than others. A livestream of a typical day in your store won’t get you any engaged viewers, but a live product demonstration might.

Csedrik said one of the best uses of Facebook Live is for educational Q&As. For example, one of his clients hosted a live video with a LASIK surgeon answering viewers’ questions and concerns about LASIK eye surgery.

The post got more than 1,000 views and was saved for later use in blogs and social media posts. “It became evergreen content — content that we could use over and over again — for social media,” Csedrik said.

Demonstrations also work well, Leger said. If you own a restaurant, consider a 30-minute weekly cooking demonstration. If you own a store, you could use live video to show customers how to use certain products.

In a recent video, Dunkin’ Donuts went live to show how its donuts and coffees could be turned into Valentine’s Day treats and gifts.

Streams that go “behind the scenes” make for engaging content, noted Ehlers. Show your customers how things get made or give them exclusive access to a part of the business that piques their interest.

Whatever you shoot, make it worth lasting as least 15 minutes, Leger advised. A common mistake rookies make, he said, is not streaming long enough to attract viewers. “A two-minute long session makes it difficult to generate any amount of live viewers.”

After you’ve finished shooting, hit “post” to publish the video permanently. This allows you to save it for later use and make it available to your followers who couldn’t watch the video live.

Engage with your viewers

In all of the above examples of great video, there are opportunities to interact with your customers in the comments. “This connects your audience with your brand,” Ehlers said.

It’s crucial that someone is fielding the questions in the comments. The subject of your video might have a laptop and be looking at the questions as he or she goes, or a staff member can monitor the questions and ask them out loud.

For your first few videos, you may not get many questions in the comments, whether it’s because you only have a few viewers or because your viewers aren’t ready to jump in. Leger recommends “planting” some users (friends, members of your team) to ask questions, ideally before the stream starts so your subject isn’t waiting to get going. Or have a list of a few questions on hand to start the conversation.

“These queries encourage other viewers to jump into the conversation,” he said. “But if your idea for a video will engage and entertain your audience, it will be successful.”

Take it to the next level

If you’re serious about making Facebook Live a part of your marketing strategy, Leger recommends purchasing lighting and sound equipment, a tripod to keep your camera steady and a streaming camera like the Mevo.

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