Facebook live 101
A transcript of a livestream I did with Ariel that runs the Urbanist.live Facebook page.
This weekend I had a sit-down with Ariel Viera, the founder of Urbanist, a Facebook page dedicated to exploring History, Food, and Culture of cities. Ariel shares his stories true Facebook-Live and I wanted to know what he learned in the 10 months he’s been doing so.
Before I start I want to mention that you can find the full Livestream on my Facebook-Page and there will be a video of the Livestream soon on youtube.
So you told us before that you Livestream on Facebook, are there any other kinds of content you create?
Yes, so Urbanist is a full Multimedia publication, I’m doing Live videos, that are anywhere from 1 to 3 hours long. Now I’m also doing short 5 min long live about things that just need to be live. 360 video and 360 live videos, Short-form video (video between 1–5 min), Longer video guides that are about 10min long which are about one city entirely and also photos and Instagram Stories.
When did you start Urbanist?
I started Urbanist last September (2016) which is now almost a year ago.
How many times do you go live? Do you have a certain week schedule or do you stream whenever you have something interesting?
I go live whenever I find something interesting. Generally, I go live from 4–6 times a week. The general schedule is when I can collaborate with other people and when I can reach the most amount of people. The reason that in the past 10 months I’ve gotten 3.5M views in total all by myself is that I’ve been sharing it with pages far bigger than mine.
What structure do you put in a live stream?
My live streams are about any place that has a story in a city such as a restaurant, landmarks, museum, neighborhood, a person… that’s what they’re structured around and they usually around 1–3 hours. I’ve seen that the longer a Livestream is, the better because the longer you’re on the more people are able to join. On Facebook live people are coming in and out constantly.
Did you know the “niche” you wanted to make content in before you started Urbanist or is it something that evolved over time?
It started out with just History of landmarks and neighborhoods, but over time I realized that food is such a big part of this. So I started playing around with including this in my content as well.
Do you remember your first ever Livestream and what was it like?
The first ever Livestream I did was for a blog for Curbed, it was just a still frame of Bryant Park (a park in the heart of midtown NYC), there was nothing moving no commentary, but once I saw comments popping up I thought wow, this is wonderful, the fact that people around the world can comment and that I could talk to them!
What are some important lessons you learned in these 10 months of live streaming?
I consider taking live streaming not as a video and not as TV, it’s theatre. Because think of this, doesn’t it suck when only 2 people are in the theatre and you have to act the entire way? So I think the best way to Livestream is to get yourself an audience first. It’s not necessary, a lot of people do it the other way around, but for me, I had to get the audience first so there is feedback on the stream. And the way I go about that is a true collaboration with larger pages and organizations than mine.
I’ve noticed that you collaborate with people quite frequently, how do you go about setting that up?
One of the things I do is the cold email, I mention who I’ve worked with in the past and just ask if they would be open for collaboration. And on these emails, I get a lot of yeses. Because other people want to showcase their place. And now recently with food especially I get restaurants approach me because they see my platform as a great place to spread the word.
Did you make “normal” edited videos before you started with live-streaming?
I tried, I tried to do vlogging because I was addicted to Casey Neistat, I bought the Canon 70D just like Casey but the moment I tried to talk to myself in the middle of the city I felt too awkward, this is weird, I’m not doing this. And then I saw live-streaming and people joining in and I could talk to people, that made it feel a lot easier.
What was the main reason you started a brand? Did you have an inspiration?
Since the age of 5, I started making movies. I see live-streams as 2 hours one cut movie, they just happen to be non-fictional. With Urbanist especially on Facebook, I thought it was easier to build a brand in stead of the “Ariel travel show” or something like that. Companies or organizations are more attracted to a brand-name. So my “smart cut” was to act as a brand and make a brand. A brand that’s larger than me and could continue without me, or grow as I continue to add people to it.
You are really focused on Facebook but are also active on Twitter and Instagram, are you planning on expanding to other platforms in the future?
Facebook is definitely my focus but Instagram is something I want to grow along with Facebook.
How important do you think a clear niche in making content is?
I think it’s super important. But the better way to think about it is “how can I bring value to people?”. A lot of people think what would I want to watch, or create? Which is fine like you want to make vlogs or photos, but people other than friends and family are not really going to care about your content unless you bring them value. 2 and is what topics do you care about more than anything else.
What do you think will happen to 360 videos?
I think it’s a very different medium. Livestreams are their own medium, 360 video is it’s own medium and 360 live is also different. You are no longer the director or editor. The audience is the director, they can look at anything they want. I’m still figuring it out, but I’m very excited by it.
How do you come up with your content ideas?
Normally it’s just whoever want’s to collaborate or what landmark I want to cover. I do think ahead on what kind of content I want to produce. I could literally do a Livestream every single day but for me, focusing on history and culture, I like to do research so I need the time to prepare. Going every day is a little unfeasible unless I have a researcher with me, so in the long term I could start doing that but right now 4–5 times a week is doable.
Where do you see Urbanist going in the future?
Ultimately I want Urbanist to be a full-on media company. A company that’s lean and has a huge audience. I don’t want to be the next CNN but I want to be the “national Geographic of cities”. The way I want to do that is by having more live-streamers all over the world giving all different perspectives. So for me, I like history and culture but others could like food, architecture or fashion, and could stream all about that.
I also want to make documentaries like “the influence of coffee in Europe”. So what I think of people that would like to do the same, fully lean into your vision, it’s ok to have a vision. I used to be skeptical, I thought I was being arrogant or aiming too high. It’s not, you might reach your vision, you might not. All that matters is how much you’re trending, as long as you’re moving up towards your vision.
Do you have an absolute favorite live-stream?
Yeah, my best performing live-stream ever was Central-Park West. Where I revisioned the last days of John Lennon where I got 78.000 people tuning in live. The reason it’s my favorite is that the story was really good. I posted a promo that got 350.000 views, and I hadn’t even started the stream yet. I also ran into a fan during the Livestream and she joined me for about 5 minutes and gave me some treats. That’s the beauty of live-streaming that there is this random chance of things to happen.
Do you promote or use Facebook advertising to grow your audience?
97% of my traffic has grown organically. The few dollars I spend on Facebook ads I target on people I want to work with, like the brand managers of Air-BnB, or the social media managers of so-and-so media company, on the off chance that they would see your sponsored posts and want to work with me.
How do you monetize Urbanist?
Number one is Patreon subscribers. I thoroughly believe Patreon subscribers should be a part of my company because they are the ones most benefiting from my content. Second is sponsorships and sponsored videos and 3rd is freelance video, editing, and live-streams.
I want to thank Ariel again for his time and the awesome live steam and if you want to know more about Urbanist you can click the links below:
If you liked it please give this article a big Applause! 🙌 Have you tried Facebook Live yet? Have a great day everyone and for more articles and more information on what I do go check out my Website www.louisdekeyser.com