Facebook Live for Nonprofits: Producing on a Budget

Over the past decade, video has evolved to become the most important mechanism to deliver content on social media. People simply want to see what you are saying, not just read it, which has allowed Facebook Live to naturally grow in popularity among nonprofits and individuals alike.

In early 2017, Facebook Live passed YouTube as the most popular live streaming video platform, and Facebook’s most recent data shows that viewers engage with Facebook Live videos six times more than non-live videos.

You may have seen that Facebook recently announced changes to its News Feed algorithm that will display more content from friends and family than organizational and brand Pages. What you may not have seen is that Facebook will still prioritize Page content that generates high engagement. This is where Facebook Live can be helpful to your organization’s content strategy since it drives more engagement than other post types.

Below are Facebook Live production tips for nonprofits that will help you produce Facebook Live content without breaking the bank.

  • Determine if a professional is best for filming your live event rather than a phone or tablet. Nonprofits should consider hiring professionals for Facebook Live videos that have a long run time (i.e., more than 2 hours), are filmed outside, or are somewhere with a lot of background noise. Also, some event spaces require that their own staff film Facebook Live recordings since their name will be linked to the event. Be sure you know your location’s policy on this point.
  • Always use a tripod if you are recording from one spot. Tripods are essential to keeping your camera still when filming from one spot, and they allow you to pivot the camera when needed, like filming panels of multiple people, for example. Thankfully, tripods are sold at a variety of outlets, including Amazon and Best Buy. Note that some tripod mounts are sold separately from the tripod due to varying types of recording devices, so be sure to do your research prior to buying.
  • When using a tripod, locate the best placement based on audio and visual needs. Before going live from your tripod, locate the main speaker from which the audio will be recording. Then, be sure to locate the best location to film from. You can do this by having a colleague speak into the mic and stand in the spaces where the speakers will be throughout the recording.
  • When filming horizontally on an iPhone, make sure you’re in “Standard” view mode. Filming on a horizontal iPhone will not automatically turn the recording to landscape mode unless your phone is in “Standard” view mode. Facebook will not let you rotate the video once you begin recording either, so go to your iPhone’s “Settings,” click “Display & Brightness,” then click  “View” and ensure it is in “Standard” mode and not “Zoom” mode.
  • Keep it 100 (percent charged!). This seems intuitive, but having a charger on-hand will help if your device uses more battery than planned. At Vanguard, we make sure staff running Facebook Live videos come prepared with a wall charger and battery-powered charger so devices never run the risk of powering down.
  • For interviews or monologues, cue cards are your best friend. Printing out main points or a full script for the speaker helps them to stay on message without having to memorize their lines or look down while speaking. Think 3 to 6 lines per page, in large font!
  • Invest in wireless hot spots. The strength of WiFi and internet availability can make all the difference. A slow internet connection could cause dropped feeds and grainy video resolution. For the best streaming results, use a wireless hot spot and only connect the recording device to the hot spot: Having multiple devices linked to one hot spot can reduce its speed.
  • Avoid having screens in the background of the recording. All video screens, but especially those projecting light colors, can cause a glare behind speakers that will be picked up in a Facebook Live broadcast. If this is unavoidable, do not sweat it too much … the glare is generally minimal!
  • Always have a colleague view the live video and contact you if there are issues. They’ll be able to tell you if the video feed has dropped or if there is an audio problem, and identify other unforeseen issues. Having a colleague point these out will ensure you can quickly course-correct before followers notice.

And finally, have fun! If you’ve never “gone live” before, I guarantee you’ll be so proud of the video you’ve crafted and the promotion you’ve done prior to share the live experience far and wide!