Facebook Live can be a way to reach new audiences, for example for newsrooms/departments aimed at younger target groups, since live broadcasting is an established way for them to consume social media and interact with different types of senders. And don’t forget to respond to questions from the audience that come in during live broadcasts! Dialogue is just as important when you broadcast live as when you communicate with your audience about other types of journalism content.
Facebook Live is best used when you are on location when something spectacular happens, when you interview a person you want the audience to be able to ask questions of directly, or when you are otherwise covering an event that will make better BREAKING NEWS right now than later.
Many of the lessons learned under the heading Video are of course also applicable to Facebook Live. So click ahead to there if you want to read more about video in general.
Facebook is the biggest and broadest social media platform for many, and although the "live" boom seems to be over in terms of popularity and algorithms, there are many good and creative uses for Facebook Live:
Real-time investigative journalism: Take your followers with you! An award-winning example of this form is swedish tech online magazine Breakit’s Eric Wisterberg who went undercover as a bicycle messenger investigating Uber Eats in spring 2017. While working as a bicycle messenger, he filmed himself while he was cycling, answering his followers’ questions related to his investigation in real-time. The resulting piece of investigative journalism eventually won the Golden Shovel for Innovator of the Year at the Investigative Journalism Seminar in 2018.
But remember: if you are planning to take your followers with you on Facebook Live, think twice about what security and privacy risks a live broadcast might entail for you and other participants. It is more difficult to control the content of a live broadcast than a video you clip together yourself.
Questions and Answers If you have an expert or other interesting person available, let him or her answer followers’ questions during a live broadcast. As in this example, when In bed with P3 had regular Facebook Live broadcasts during which the listeners could put questions to sexologist Camilla Larsson.
This format makes it super-easy to really get close to your followers and show them that their input is important. Use questions and answers from your live broadcasts as ideas for new journalism on radio and podcasts.
It’s important to keep your live broadcast running for a while and not stop it too soon, to give your followers a chance to discover that you are actually broadcasting live. Have a few of your own questions up your sleeve in order to avoid dead air.
Poor sound and a truly boring studio environment can act as a deterrent even if the expert is very interesting. Choose the environment/background with care and use an external microphone!
The BREAKING NEWS broadcast: Something remarkable is happening right now and you are right there in the midst of it with your smartphone. Why not broadcast live? The example below is P4 Stockholm’s reporting from a fire in the Portuguese Embassy in spring 2018, where the reporter seizes the opportunity to ask the police questions and explore the surroundings thoroughly. There probably would not have been time for this on a radio broadcast.
Just like in the example of real-time investigative journalism above, it is important to be careful about what and who you are filming while events unfold. For example, think carefully about how appropriate it is to film people if you suspect that they are injured or in shock (SR’s programme policy also applies to what we do on social media. See more about this here). Also remember that Sweden’s Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression (YGL) does not apply to live broadcasts on social media, unlike on radio or on sverigesradio.se (Read more about YGL and social media here).
If the broadcast is in progress for a long time, it’s a good idea to repeat what has happened for the benefit of recently added or less attentive followers: “My name is reporter Y and I am on location at X where event Z has occurred” for example.
HOW TO BROADCAST LIVE FROM YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE
Go to your page/profile to write a post.
Choose Live video.
Browse among the filters (at the time of writing there is everything from mirror-reversed video, to a beard consisting of your own face 100+ times) in the scroll list and under the wand.
When the broadcast is finished (after at least 4 seconds, and a maximum of 4 hours), select whether it should remain on your page as a standard video post, or if you want to delete it from the page. You also have the option of saving the broadcast on your smartphone, even if you choose not to publish the video on your Facebook page.
TIPS AND TRICKS
Stay close to the person speaking, but use an external microphone rather than your smartphone camera’s built-in microphone. Good sound is important to ensure that the audience does not get bored or irritated. Think about a live broadcast on Facebook like any other product of your newsroom/department, and don’t compromise on quality.
When you broadcast live on Facebook, you can turn the smartphone camera to face you or to film in the opposite direction. You can of course also use a stationary camera, with a tripod if necessary, for example if you want to do a longer broadcast from a seminar.