By: Katie Middel

We recently helped our client Colorado Nursery and Greenhouse Association host a Facebook Live event at Fort Collins Nursery. After sufficient planning and preparation, we still ran into obstacles along the way. Take it from us, there is no right way to host a live event. But there are a handful of tips to implement to help ensure a smooth experience – for yourself and your audience.

Why Go Live?

Going live is a more authentic, personal way to engage with your audience. When you bring the human element into your storytelling, your followers will trust you. We recently attended the 2019 Digital Summit, where VisumCx CEO Carlos Hidalgo spoke on the importance of empathy and trust when it comes to your customers. He said, “We have to understand that before we start to engage buyers in meaningful conversation, we need to make sure they trust our brand.” And the number one way you can gain that trust? According to Hidalgo, it’s simply by being human.

So, “peel back the curtains of your brand” as digital strategist Quinn Tempest (another brand-building expert and speaker at Digital Summit) would say, and be real and raw with your audience. Show them your brand’s imperfect side and it will strengthen trust and gain you more authentic relationships.

Announce Your Live Event

With any event, there should be a purpose for having it. Whether you’re announcing a new product launch, interviewing someone notable in your industry, or giving a tour of your new office — your live event should be engaging and aimed at your intended audience.

Letting your followers know beforehand about the event increases attendance or viewership. This can be done by a simple text post or a colorful graphic that includes all of the important details. Facebook recommends announcing your event one day in advance and asking viewers to subscribe to live notifications so they know when you start broadcasting.

For our event with CNGA, we whipped up the graphic below and posted on Facebook with a ready-to-go caption asking people to comment their planting questions on the post. Garden pros Allison and Jesse then answered them live, along with other questions that came up during the broadcast.

Example of announcement post we created for CNGA’s Live Event

Example of announcement post we created for CNGA’s Live Event

Outline Your Talking Points

Although a live event shouldn’t be scripted, you should have a clear idea of what you are going to cover. Engagement with your viewers increases attention and usually generates a discussion in the comments. Do this by occasionally acknowledging when someone joins your event by addressing them by their first name and answering their questions throughout. Don’t worry if you don’t get to all of the questions – you can always go back and reply directly in the comments afterward.

People often don’t start watching until part-way through so, hook your initial viewers in your opening and reiterate why you’re doing the event when more people start to join in. If you try to cram all of the important details in the first couple of minutes, people will likely miss what you want them to hear the most. The duration of the event also is important. Longer videos tend to reach more people according to Facebook – at minimum go live for 10 minutes.

Test Your Equipment

Having a strong signal and charged device(s) is key to hosting a successful live event. Decide what type of device(s) you want to use (smart phone, tablet, or laptop) and make sure to test your connection before you go live. Since you will most likely be broadcasting for at least 10 minutes, it’s a good idea to plug in your phone or computer into a power source for the duration of the event.

You can set your Facebook Live audience to “Only Me” or use a dummy account to test your lighting and sound. If you are partnering with someone, have them go to another location and give you feedback on how the feed looks and sounds. If you are doing it alone, you can save your test recording and play it back. Using an external microphone and a tripod or gimble is also a good idea to ensure the best audio and visual quality. Facebook Live is best suited for vertical storytelling, so having the right equipment will help you keep viewers from leaving due to a technical problem.

If you are prepared with charged, ready-to-use equipment, your recording will likely go smoothly.

Just don’t try to do it in a greenhouse on a hot summer day (more about that below).

Find the Right Location

External factors including weather and temperature (which we experienced during CNGA’s event) can also affect your equipment. Turns out being in a 90-degree, UV magnifying greenhouse – although it has flawless lighting and an awesome floral background – can cause your laptop and two smartphones to overheat, ending the recording early. Luckily, with our experience, we were able to laugh it off and jump back on with a back-up computer for take two.

Position yourself somewhere that’s not too noisy, makes sense with your brand, and that has a good Wi-Fi connection. With CNGA, we first set-up outside because that’s where it was breezy, had a green background, and a good connection. After our first test, though, we discovered the shadowed foreground and over-exposed background made our subjects too dark and hard to see.

If possible, host your event indoors (near natural light, if possible) so you can avoid the variables that happen so often in the great outdoors (i.e., poor connectivity, wind, heat, etc.).

Dive in!

Don’t let the fear of making mistakes or the pressure to be perfect stop you from trying. People are navigating away from social platforms (coughFacebookcough) because of an oversaturation of curated, empty content. Humans crave authenticity, and going Live – showing your face, giving a glimpse behind-the-scenes – can restore an element of real humanity back into social. So, don’t be afraid – take some steps to prepare, and GO LIVE! And if you have questions in preparation, we’re here to help! Just slide into our DMs, and we’ll set up a fireside chat!

Katie, Ben, and Allison hold up their official #PlantSomethingCO stakes after the live event

Katie, Ben, and Allison hold up their official #PlantSomethingCO stakes after the live event