The All-In-One Guide to Going Live

When it comes to video, you have to bribe, blackmail, or bait me to get in front of the camera. For me, live video is an exercise in self-imposed agony; I feel awkward and ridiculous and sometimes I hate the sound of my own voice. Often, I tell my clients that you should find where your customers are playing online and make a home there. But make a home you feel comfortable living in. If you find that you can’t hang curtains in the windows and the blankets make your ankles itch, this is not your home. Instead, consider AirBNBing your house to someone who can make it a home — i.e., an employee or freelancer.

Your customers are likely to be on more than one channel (translation: fancy marketing speak for a place), and you should be honest with yourself about where you can make a home or contract someone to do it for you. If you hate pinning, your customers will see right through your veiled attempts at Pinterest. I hate video so you don’t see me going Live on every channel. My words will find their way out into the world and connect with my ideal clients. However, if you LIVE for Live video, I’ve got a MONSTER of a tutorial for you — a comprehensive guide on all the things you need to know to get your Live started.

A. Benefits of going Live: Why go Live? What’s the point? How will I benefit?

  • Stand Out: First, it makes your account stand out. Every time you go on Live, there’s a notification that’s sent to your followers that you’re broadcasting live, right this very second! Of course, they want to check you out!
  • Foster Engagement: Facebook and IG have publicly stated that they’re prioritizing video. If you go Live on a consistent basis, the platforms will surface your content to more of your followers.
  • Build Credibility: The more you’re sharing expert tips and content from that empathic “I’m a mom too” perspective, the more prospects will see you as the no-nonsense go-to who’s cutting through all the noise and being real.
  • Give Your Content Mileage: At the end of your Instagram live, you can save it to your story and by adding hashtags, and location stickers, you’ll make the post discoverable to new people who don’t follow you! You can also repurpose the content in newsletters and social media for folks who’ve missed it!
  • Cultivate Relationships: You want your customer to like, know and trust you, and the first step in that process is them getting to know you. Remember, we create connections with people through emotional “mirroring.” The more people see your face and know you’re showing up, the more they are invested in your brand!

A. How to Go Live:

Start out by reading some excellent guides.

B. How to go Live on Facebook: Here is another excellent resource that takes you step-by-step.

  • Go to the News Feed, and tap the “Live” option as denoted by the recording icon.
  • When prompted, grant Facebook access to your camera and microphone.
  • Select your privacy setting.
  • Write a compelling description of your event.
  • Tag friends, choose your location or add an activity.
  • Set up your camera view. Your video will be a square, so it doesn’t matter whether you hold your mobile device vertically or horizontally.

Pro tip: You can choose if you want the image to be horizontally or vertically mirrored, too. Tap the magic wand icon in the upper right-hand corner of your screen, then tap the tools icon at the bottom of your screen to film from a different view or to adjust the video’s brightness.

  • Add lenses, filters, or writing and drawing to your video.

How to use a split screen (if you both want to be on it and you’re in separate locations). You can also use a free program like Zoom.

C. How to go Live on Instagram:

  • Tap the camera icon on the top left of your screen or swipe right from anywhere in Feed.
  • Tap Live at the bottom of the screen and then tap Start Live Video.
  • The number of viewers appears at the top of the screen and comments appear at the bottom. Tap Comment to add a comment, and tap and hold a comment to pin it to the top so that viewers can see it more easily.
  • To turn comments off, tap the ellipses (…) then select Turn Off Commenting. Keep in mind that any keyword filters you’ve turned on will also apply to comments on your live video.
  • When you’re done, tap End in the top right then tap to confirm. From there, you can tap Save in the top right to save it to your camera roll, or share it with your story.

How to use a split screen (if you both want to be on it and you’re in separate locations).

What to say:

  • Extra! Extra! Got some huge announcements to do or some new products to launch? Instagram Live it.
  • FAQs and Q&As: Instead of a lengthy caption on a regular post, provide answers on the frequently asked questions about your brand in a Live video. This also encourages the ‘Live’ audiences to ask questions in real time.
  • Share the Big Moments: Company milestones to newly closed deals and partnerships; share the biggest news with your audience. Make them feel like they're part of your milestones because . . . well, they are!
  • Go Behind-The-Scenes: Showing the raw creative process and the ins and outs of your brand are showing its “human” side. This makes your brand more relatable, a key aspect in today’s digital marketing world.
  • Invite Guests: Having influencers take over your Instagram Live is a great marketing strategy, especially if you get them to direct traffic to your feed too.

When to say it:

The best time of day varies with brand and your intended audience. You can likely catch them between 11am-2pm (covers lunch hours on both coasts), in the evening, and on Sunday evenings, when they’re getting ready for the week and they’ll likely be logged on to their computer. However, this is all conjecture.

You’ll know the best times by analyzing your audience info and determine when they’re engaged with your existing content (Facebook and Instagram analytics will give this to you) and test out varying times for your Lives. After a few, you’ll get a sense of when it’s best to broadcast.

Ideally, you don’t want to schedule an event when your ideal client is at work or asleep.

Best Practices:

  • Set Goals and Plan Accordingly: Start out by having an objective in mind and goals you want to achieve. Do you want to educate them? Inspire/motivate them to achieve their goals? What do you want them to think, feel, and do, and then plan your event accordingly. Plan the kind of event you’d want to attend where you feel served instead of sold to. Lives are about the 1:1 relationship and soft sell. You can have a CTA at the end, but don’t push sales too aggressively throughout the broadcast. You don’t want to appear “infomercial-ly”.
  • Outline the Event: Even though your Live should be fun and spontaneous, you want to have an event flow online. Outline your talking points, the things you want to cover, and the call-to-action you want to issue at the end of the video.
  • Invite Audience Love: The more you solicit engagement, the more likely your Live will be shared on the “Explore” page of Instagram and be available to more of your followers. Answer fan questions and shout out their names over the course of the Live to show that you are connecting 1:1 with your audience. At the start, greet a handful of names who are joining. You don’t have to do them all, you’re just showing that you’ve acknowledged and welcomed the people who’ve shown up.
  • Use Live and Stories Together: If you go on Instagram Live while an existing story is up, it will boost you to the first circle on the Instagram news feed. It’s a quick way to get extra views out of your followers.
  • Pre-Promote the Event: Announce the event in a newsletter or on social media so fans know when the event is taking place. You may want to make a few announcements leading up to the actual event since only a % of fans/followers view an announcement at any given time.
  • Advertise: Though you can’t actually boost a Live broadcast, you can boost an announcement on the days leading up to it. Though it’s not a sure-fire way to get people to watch as you go Live, it opens the door for new potential fans to check out your broadcast.
  • Do a Trial Run: Do a short Live broadcast informing viewers that you’ll be going Live in the next few days. Though this might seem silly, Facebook’s News Feed algorithm heavily boosts Live video, meaning more people will see it. On top of that, you can prompt viewers to turn on Live notifications for your Page so they’ll be reminded when you go Live next (and in the future).
  • Recap as You Go: Remember, people jump on Live at varying points in the event. Every so often you want to say, “Hey! If you’re just joining us now, we’ve been chatting about…”
  • Consider a Tripod: So you don’t have to hold your phone the whole time, consider investing in a tripod for your phone. There are tons of options on Amazon including this.
  • Ask Fans to Turn on “Live” Notifications: It’s super simple on Facebook. After they click “notifications” under your cover photo, they view this. On Instagram, they can find this under Settings/Push Notification Settings. Both examples are shown below:
  • Close with a CTA (Call-to-Action): Have no dead ends. Always invite your fan to take another action. Tell your customer what to do next — whether it’s share, comment, swipe up on a Story.

For more excellent tips on going live, view:

After your Lives, you want to download your videos.

Credit: Andrea Vahl

D. How to get the most bang out of your content buck (i.e. repurposing Live content):

Upload to YouTube, i.e. the platform that operates as a search engine: The “big daddy” of video marketing, YouTube enjoys its status as the 2nd most searched website only — behind Google.com by only a slim margin. Pinterest is the de-facto visual search engine. Well-optimized videos can attract thousands or even millions of views, and help drive traffic to your website, your blog, your product pages, or even the landing page of your choice. Don’t miss the opportunity to profit again and again from the effort you put into creating the video. Be sure to upload it to YouTube and:

  • Create a keyword-rich title.
  • Craft a compelling description.
  • Add a call to action.

Embed the video in a blog post:

I’d advise uploading to YouTube first because YT embeds are more stable than Facebook. Also, you can refresh old blog posts (and give them new life and SEO legs) by doing the following:

  • Find a post that has a point that can be made into a video.
  • Do a 2–3 minute Facebook Live video about that point.
  • Upload that video into YouTube.
  • Go back to that older post and embed the YouTube video onto the Post.

Create short videos for Instagram, Twitter, etc.:

  • Edit your video into really short clips, for example, 15– 30-second clips, and then share them on Instagram. You can share as an Instagram post (up to 60 seconds) and an Instagram Story (up to 15 seconds).
  • You can also share these short little videos on Twitter as well…and in fact, you can share back on Facebook as a post or in Facebook Stories.
  • Make your videos engaging for audiences by using the Instagram Stories filters/effects. Then, you can use your fun video that’s had a few effects added and share further. For example, add effects on Instagram then share that video on Facebook and Twitter.

Create longer tutorial or “edutainment” videos combining your Lives:

You can create evergreen how-to and educational content (from the Lives that you’re doing that focus on education, tips) to create an extended video that has multiple education modules. This evergreen content can be showcased on your site and emails and shared with influencer partners for content syndication.

Great examples:

Finally, let’s talk about some serious stats. Since 2016, Facebook has chalked up 3.5 billion broadcasts with over 2 billion viewers, a figure that continues to climb. And with over 800 million users, Instagram has become a formidable force, with time spent watching videos (lives, videos in feed, Stories) etc. is up 80% year over year. In short, live video — much to my personal chagrin — isn’t going anywhere.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by + 373,685 people.

Subscribe to receive our top stories here.