One major goal every business has with social media is to expand their reach and connect with new potential customers. Nearly everybody has social media in some form, with 79 percent of adults using Facebook. Since so many people use Facebook, any new features they implement have to be taken seriously by marketers.

Facebook Live is one such feature many businesses are still trying to figure out how to best implement. Two major strengths live streaming have for businesses is the ability to expand your reach and make stronger connections with your followers.

To get the most out of these advantages, here are some tips on how to utilize Facebook Live for your business.

It All Starts With Your Audience

Successful marketing starts with research and understanding your target market. Before you fire up your cameras and go through sound check, you need to find what your followers want from your live streams.

First, you need to identify if your target market will even watch live streams. When randomly scrolling through Facebook, many consumers don’t want to dedicate a large chunk of time to watching a video. But if the subject matter is right and they have a heads up, people might be willing to set aside time specifically for a live stream.

Knowing the best time to host those streams and whether people will care enough to attend are both important pieces of info to know.

When it comes to topics for your stream, a good place to start is seeing what kinds of content you’ve produced in the past are the highest performers and see how they might translate to a live stream. That way, you know it’s something people are interested in and can be a good starting point for your live streams.

If possible, interview current customers and people in your target market to see what gaps your marketing has. It might be a lack of transparency or a failure to address a specific need, and your live stream could help rectify those gaps.

Be Entertaining

Social media is distracting, entertaining, and addicting. Your live stream is going to compete against everything else on a person’s news feed, alongside all of the other forms of entertainment in the world.

Simply setting up a camera and talking is likely not enough to keep people watching, especially if your live stream is going to last a long time. A good live stream has a blend of physical and audio elements to keep people’s attention engaged.

Being entertaining doesn’t mean you need to bring an NBC level of drama to your live stream, but you can’t be dry. Some humor, charisma, and creativity is required to have a good live stream. A friendly and engaging host can make or break a live stream, regardless of the subject matter.

Working with Social Influencers

It’s hard to spread your live streams because the only people likely to see it are the followers you already have. If you want to expand your reach, you will need people with different and varied audiences to work with you to spread your live streams.

Influencer marketing is a good approach to spreading your live streams to different audiences and getting more attention overall. A key part to doing this right is to pick an influencer who has a good audience that matches your target market. If your target market is higher-level decision makers at tech companies, you don’t want to choose an influencer whose audience is made up of stay-at-home mothers.

Working with influencers can get tricky though. It becomes a marriage of brands, both the influencers and your business, into a single end result. This can sometimes be messy, as some people and companies can be very protective of their brands. Only by working and planning together can you find something that works. If both parties demand doing the stream their way, there will be a lack of unity, which will lead to a lackluster stream.

Here’s a little secret when working with social influencers: let them take the lead when planning the content for the stream, especially if they have live streamed in the past. They know what their followers respond to the best. If you insist on controlling them, it will only lead to poor content and a failed live stream.

Setting up a Regular Schedule

Establishing a regular time, either every day or once a week, for your live streams is important to creating a regular audience of attendees. By having a normal schedule, people can know and expect when you will go live and start to incorporate it into their routines.

A big part of having the right schedule is finding the best times for your target audience to watch. While many claim that the best time for social engagement is between 1 and 4p.m., this might not be the best time to host a live stream. Best times vary between audiences and markets.

Really, the only way to figure out an optimal time is to experiment with a variety of times and days when you first start your Facebook Live campaign. Yes, you might catch people eating lunch at work, and willing to watch your stream around 1 p.m., but maybe try around 6-9 p.m., when people are starting to relax and are looking for entertainment.

Be sure to keep your followers aware and updated as to when your streams will happen, at least a day in advance, and keep reminding them regularly leading up to when you start. That way, if they want to watch, they can make sure they have enough time for at least part of your stream.

It’s also a good practice to give your viewers an idea of what you will be doing in the stream so they can determine whether they definitely want to watch or if it’s something they will just check in with.

Don’t be afraid to work around potential timing problems, though. Be aware of how major holidays and events might impact your viewership and find alternative times. That way, you won’t bleed viewers during things like the Superbowl or a major conference your followers will be attending or watching.

Variety Makes for a Good Show

It’s important to find a balance between regularity and variety for your show to pull in new viewers and appease your regulars. That doesn’t mean you need to wildly change the format for your live stream every week, but be willing to shake things up occasionally.

Having a variety of content helps bring in people who would otherwise not watch your stream. This can include a change in your show’s format, covering different topics, bringing in guests, live streaming an event with little commentary, or whatever else you think your viewers might enjoy.

Just be sure that, as you do come up with ideas, they can still tie into your marketing funnel. Filming an office water balloon fight might be fun to watch, but won’t bring a lot of value to your marketing (unless you are a water balloon company).

Staying Protected and Away From the Bad

Anytime you open up the gates to the internet, people are going to do dumb and mean things. It’s a sad state of affairs, and live streaming is no exception.

Do your best to never give your exact location when live streaming, especially if you are out in public. Don’t give out personal information on stream, and maintain a healthy level of distrust to anybody asking for information.

Each person who steps in front of your camera could become a potential target for hacking and harassment. People can easily find personal social media accounts, so be sure they have strong passwords with their accounts and train them to avoid giving any type of personal information, like names of pets or hometowns that could be used with security questions.

If you live stream from your business’ Facebook account, it becomes doubly important to have a strong password. If hackers can gain access to your business’ Facebook account easily, they might assume the rest of your company’s security is similarly weak, painting a target on your back. It’s very difficult and takes a long time to detect a breach, and by the time you do, most of the damage is already done. Make sure all of your passwords are strong and secure before you go live.

One major part of live streaming is interacting directly with your viewers through comments, which is a double-edged sword. One on hand, you can answer questions and concerns right then, and that interaction can create a strong connection to your business, but it can also lead to harassment.

Find ways to filter out unwanted or harmful comments, so the person they are going for won’t see them. A best practice for this is to have another person who handles the comments and give the host the best ones while filtering out inappropriate questions for the host.

Improving Over Time Thanks to Data

The first couple of times you live stream, it’ll likely be rough. But the more you do it, the better you’ll get and the more problems you’ll fix. Then, once you get into a rhythm and work out all of the bugs, you can focus on improving and getting more viewers.

Turn to your analytics when it comes to decisions about your live streaming. Are there specific topics or formats that brought in more viewers or comments? Did you see an influx of visitors to your site after a specific stream or call to action? Are any streams getting a lot of attention even though you are no longer live? Facebook provides a wealth of information that can be used to guide you on where you need to improve.

Since Facebook Live is pretty new, there isn’t a lot of hard data on best practices for businesses. That means you must use your own data to figure out what’s best for your marketing and determine the future of your live streams.

Above are listed some best practices, but don’t be afraid to try new things and see where it gets you. Maybe your business will discover the new thing everybody wants to watch.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.

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