By Joe Brown
Creative Director: Media Junkies
When Facebook Live launched in early 2016, entrepreneurs and ambitious creatives jumped on its live streaming video function—step aside SnapChat, here came a more accessible looking live chat site and it was wearing a tie, rather than a t-shirt and jeans, so could be used professionally and playfully. Now, Facebook Live has gotten much better and has become an invaluable platform for marketers—some might say, it’ll become the only communication platform. Skype, Google+ Hangout and even the revolutionary WeChat in China should be nervous, as Facebook Live becomes the go to place to host webinars, after introducing a way to schedule live streams in advance. While traditional webinar platforms become more expensive the more people invited to the meeting, Facebook Live is simple and free… and infinitely hospitable. Along with its marketplace so that your guests can then head to your store afterwards, Facebook Live pretty much doesn’t leave anything to the imagination.
Why Webinars Are Better Than a Great Coffee Date
Invite people in to your office—your daytime office or your roaming office while on a working vacation or simply to your desktop with all its powerpoints and slides that you otherwise need to have coworkers standing over your shoulder squinting at. You can talk about anything in your webinars: chat with your visitors and learn from them as they learn from you and also introduce products that are then available on your Facebook store. Traditionally, webinars have been a great way to build an email list and though anyone can join your Facebook Live webinar—no email address is required to reserve a spot—the global accessibility could multiply your contact list as though you are the only good looking fellow in the packed bar at happy hour. Visitors are often inspired to reach out or at least keep logging on to your webinars.
Advantages of Facebook Live Webinars
Streaming webinars via Facebook Live is different from the traditional way of doing it. Anyone who has a Facebook account can join—no special locations, landing pages or software is needed. This makes it not only easy but also lures in the commitment phobes who can pop in and out of the webinar undetected—you’re luring in visitors who would ordinarily need a lot more temptation to agree to this first coffee date with you. Of course, there’s a disadvantage to this: your visitors are anonymous unless they are so inspired to give you their email address. That should just be extra incentive to make your content irresistible—do that with information and with personality.
Then, there’s the golden word: go viral, baby. When you schedule a webinar, it’ll automatically show in the newsfeed of your impressive number of followers who might even opt to get notified whenever you go live.
So, streaming via Facebook Live can reach your coworkers, your neighbors and your global neighbors’ neighbors. That is, your webinar goes out to anyone on Facebook and before you know it, you have fans everywhere from Australia to Ireland. Unlike some traditional webinars, there is no cap on the number of visitors that can show up—this cafe has its doors and windows wide open.
Finally, coffee dates are no fun if there’s only one person talking. Facebook’s signature provocative commenting tool is alive and thriving in live streaming, so your visitors can chat to you and to each other. They can ask questions, tell you how awesome you look and genuinely connect, which increase the likelihood of a second date.
Disadvantages. We Wouldn’t Be Your Real Friends If We Didn’t Warn You That It’s Not All Roses:
As Facebook itself has its quirks and downsides, so does Facebook Live. One of the peskiest issues is videos that freeze willy nilly and delays in audio—because you’re inviting the whole world in, the bandwidth of the whole world is also invited and sometimes the Facebook Live and your visitors’ bandwidth is not compatible.
And when the world is invited to your party, you’re also opening the door to the unwanted: trolls. This is not an exclusive party, so be prepared for nasty commenters and meddling visitors.
What You Need To Start Right Now
Hosting a webinar via Facebook Live is not as easy as streaming from your Facebook group or page because it will only allow you to stream from your webcam. You can stream webinars using third party tools that utilised the Facebook API. Some of the tools, also known as encoders, are pricy—others are open source and hence, free. However, the more technical you are, the more likely you can get away with the open source version. When we say technical, we mean—there won’t be a wizard holding your hand and showing you around how to set-this thing up, right. But hands down, it’s not as complicated as you might think, so try open source and free first. Should you struggle with the lame interface and sincerely do not know which buttons to press or where to insert which key, then you can always call your Facebook Live Junkies or jump to one of the paid versions. Here’s what we recommend.
- OBS Studio – This is a great place to start, it’s free and open source (which basically means a lot of smart people have and continue to collaborate on this tool). The interface is very basic and no, there is no set-up help. Read up on a general how-to and worse case, look into the help page on their site. We’re confident you will manage. One thing we noticed though, there is quite a delay from streaming at home into the world wide Facebook world. Keep that in mind.
- Blue Jeans OnSocial– This tool allows you to stream your desktop and webcam(s). The introductory price is at $39.95 per month. This could be a cheapish alternative with potentially less delay when streaming. Also, the good old wizard and a help desk will be on your side.
- Wirecast– This somehow combines with features of OBS Studio and Blue Jeans. It costs a one time fee of $495 and is quite dependable when it comes to streaming your desktop. But hey, it better is cause $500 is quite an investment on something that save me monies, right? And then we ask ourselves, how long will this Facebook Live thing be around? We all know how quick Facebook is in rolling out products or putting old horses to sleep. So this option is for the serious investor.
These tools aren’t the only tools around but we thought this might be a good starting point.
How to Stream a Webinar via Facebook Live Free Software
We know you want to try this now, right—but who would want to spend dollars on something they are not sure if it’s worth it? So let’s download the OBS Studio and get it cranking for free.
When you have downloaded the econder and installed on your desktop, open the application and also have your Facebook Fanpage open in a separate tab.
Then set-up your Facebook Live by clicking on Publishing Tools in your page. On the left hand site, you will see Video Library. Click on that and on the right hand site, you’ll see a little grey button saying ‘+Live”. When clicking there, a pop-up window appears prompting you with Server URL and Stream Key.
Now, you open the OBS Studio encoder software and click on File (top left corner as usual) and select settings, then select ‘Stream’. This is where you copy & past Server URL and Stream Key into. Don’t forget to click Apply and then OK.
Back to Facebook, on the ‘Create Live Video’ Screen, click next and fill in your awesome sales copy. You’ll need a compelling headline, a video title and can choose video tags.
Back on the main screen of OBS Studio, on the bottom right corner you see the button for ‘Start Streaming’. Click that and ensure you want to start.
Best practice is to start streaming 20mins before your actual Facebook Live so you can control not only your good looks but also set-up, sound and anything else that is important to you.
When you hit the ‘Start Streaming’ button in OBS Studio, it will automatically connect to Facebook Live and you should see your picture popping up.
A couple of minutes before the actual start, you and your viewers will see a countdown on the screen, till you’ll appear.
Take note that you will not see the comments coming in. You need to open a separate device (phone or iPad) to watch the video as people see it and to monitor the comments.
And now that you know everything: go for it. Let’s face it, you’re probably barely using Skype anymore and eBay has been all but fazed out. We suggest you make things easier on yourselves and streamline your business through Facebook Live—don’t only keep up with but be ahead of the curve.