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February 17, 2017
Social Media  |  6 min read

Live from Facebook, It's Your Small Business

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James A. Martin

Three, two, one, and you’re live....on Facebook. Your streaming video feed is now attracting tons of followers who are clamoring to become your customers!

Or not. 

The key word here is “live.” When your video is streamed in real-time, best-laid plans can go awry. Embarrassing things can happen. Just ask Adele, who flubbed her George Michael tribute during the live broadcast of the 2017 Grammys (and bravely started the song over). 

The point is, you can’t fully control what happens in a Facebook Live video. And the lack of total control is a big reason why people like to watch a Facebook Live video vs. a video that was live originally. As Facebook itself puts it: “Facebook Live videos are more interesting in the moment than after the fact.” 

Ready to go live on Facebook? Cool. Just do your best to avoid these 10 common Facebook Live mistakes. 

1. You don’t have a master plan 

Many viewers, particularly millennials, appreciate unscripted, authentic, spontaneous content. But that doesn’t mean you should go live without a plan. 

Ask yourself: What’s the video’s goal? What's the story you want to tell? To whom do you want to tell the story? Why would they care? How do you want to tell the story? What does success look like? The answers should help shape the direction of your live video. 

2. You don’t have fun 

Humor can enliven any video and attract fans—if it’s not forced, offensive, or just plain painful. Just think of Benefit Cosmetics’s regular “Tipsy Tricks” Facebook live videos, which draw large audiences to see cosmetic tips from a host drinking wine. Be clear, though: What’s likely to resonate with—or turn off—target audiences? Is your humor consistent with your brand’s image? 

3. You don’t pick the optimal time to go live 

As with any social media post, there are optimal—and suboptimal—times to go live with Facebook video. Timing depends on the video’s content and target audience. If your small business sells drones, for instance, don’t go live with your drone video on a Tuesday morning, when your target audience is likely working. A better time would be during the weekend when they’re thinking about cool stuff like drones. 

4. You don’t give followers a heads-up 

Let followers know in advance when you plan to go live. Promote your upcoming video not only on Facebook but on other social channels, too, like Twitter. Update the cover photos on your social channels to promote your video.

But how much notice should you give? Too much, and followers may forget. Too little, and they may not be able to stop what they’re doing and watch. (Facebook recommends one day’s notice.) Also, tell followers they can tap the Follow button on live, as well as previously live, videos, to get notified about your next live extravaganza. 

5. You don’t give followers a reason to watch 

If you want people to watch your live video, give them a good reason. Share a compelling description of your upcoming video in advance. Offer just enough detail to help followers understand what to expect. Arouse their curiosity. Convince them watching your video will be time well spent.

For example, BuzzFeed scored with its live video in which rubber bands were placed on a watermelon to make it explode. The video’s title: “Watch us explode this watermelon one rubber band at a time!” 

6. You don’t practice 

Practicing your live video in advance can help you work out potential kinks. You might realize the planned shoot location is too loud, or too dark, or doesn’t have a strong-enough broadband connection. Or that mounting your phone on a tripod at the shoot location will be better than holding the phone. Tip: When practicing a Facebook Live video, share with "Only me" so that no one else can see it. Or just shoot your practice as you would any video and play it back. 

7. You don’t respond to questions or comments during the video 

Use Facebook Live to answer customer questions. Think up some in advance to answer on camera.

One of the best reasons to go live on Facebook is the opportunity to engage with followers. During your live video, solicit and answer questions your audience asks. Also, acknowledge viewers by name. Most viewers will appreciate it if you take occasional breaks to address the audience. 

8. Your live video is too short 

If your live video only lasts for, say, five minutes, you’re not giving followers time to find it. Some Facebook Live producers recommend going for about 20 minutes—or more, if the content warrants it. Just make sure you've got enough content to sustain the video's length.

9. You end the video abruptly 

When your video has run its course, let viewers know. Sign off. Thank them for watching. Let them know when your next live video will appear. 

10. You don’t repurpose the video 

Once your video is no longer live, it will remain on your small business Facebook Page (unless you delete it). To reach the widest possible audience, you can—and should—also upload it to YouTube, your website or blog, or other relevant sites. Use one or more relevant keywords in your video’s title and description to help it attract Google search engine users, too. 

The key to success: Don't be afraid

While you don't want your Facebook Live video to be a flop, don't worry too much about making mistakes, either. Mistakes are going to happen, sooner or later. They're part of the learning process. And other businesses are still figuring out Facebook Live, too. So go live, have fun, be fearless. Above all, figure out what works for you and what doesn't.

For more information

Download Infusionsoft's "Small Business Guide to Generating Leads with Facebook Live," which provides a 7-step checklist and examples of the 10 most popular Facebook Live videos of 2016. Or check out our two-part webinar on how to use Facebook Live for business.

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