Facebook Live for Community Meetings

drafted by Kerry A. Wade
May 2, 2016 – Updated January 4, 2017

Must haves and Recommendations:

  • Strong and reliable Wi-Fi Connection or internet hot spot (if you don’t have this your broadcast will be subject to a weak signal and your viewers will miss content and see fuzzy video)
  • Need a fully-charged mobile device (tablet or cell phone) and/or a power cord.  It is more convenient to connect your phone to a portable power bank that can power the phone while you are broadcasting.
  • Administrative access to or ownership of your group’s Facebook page.
  • 1 person to film/broadcast the session
  • 1 or 2 people to write down and field the questions.  It is also beneficial if the person who is writing down the questions and fielding them to the moderator views the broadcast on your Facebook page via a separate mobile device or tablet. There will likely be a slight delay and the use of headphones would be prudent.
  • Consider purchasing a mobile phone stabilizer or gimbal.  A mobile phone stabilizer will allow you to move your device around without the shakes.  This will create a more professional and palatable experience for your viewers.  Three axis stabilizers are reported to be the best option but do take some time to get used to.

NOTE: Facebook allows iPhone users to broadcast Live in landscape but they only allow Android users to broadcast in portrait.98% of mobile phone stabilizers will only allow you to use and balance your device in landscape format.

  • If you plan on placing the mobile device in one position, purchase a mobile phone tripod that will accommodate your mobile phone. 

How to prepare:

  • Begin by determining if your entire Facebook audience is suitable for this activity.  If not, create a group or event and issue an invitation for your event/broadcast for the audience that is relevant to your subject matter.
  • Determine how long your segment is going to be—will you be filming the entire meeting or just a featured item on the agenda.
  • Have an advertising/marketing plan or schedule in place to adequately promote your event.  Start promoting on Facebook up to 1 month in advance.
  • Work with meeting facilitator/moderator to prepare an introduction suitable for the audience present in the room and the LIVE audience.  This may include a short statement of what, how, why, and Facebook Live or Periscope works.
  • Be sure that anyone who might be sensitive to being filmed is out of view of the camera.  If you are really concerned, include a waiver or a notice on the sign-in sheet that the meeting or portion of the meeting will be filmed and viewed LIVE.   A waiver or consent form is usually adequate.
  • Test your lighting and be aware of where the sun may travel during the course of the meeting.
  • Be close enough to your speaker so they are able to be both heard and seen.  Stand nearby if necessary.
  • Your arms will get tired.  Have a plan in place to switch roles or (again) mount the viewing device.
  • Try not to film from the position below your speaker.  Whenever possible film from a slightly elevated position pointing down.  People look very large and distorted and certain body parts are emphasized when filming from a lower position pointing up. Your speaker will appreciate you make an effort to present them in a more flattering position.
  • Visit your venue prior to your broadcast date to test your mobile data or wifi connection strength and availability.

Other considerations:

  • Try not to love the viewing device too much.  We all have a tendency to view things via a screen and forget our surroundings.  Focus the camera on the main speaker as much as possible.  Use your discretion about filming the audience (see above comment about sensitive Live audience members). Ask your speaker to repeat any questions posed by in-person audience members for both audiences (your in-person and your Facebook Live audience).   Ask them to do the same for questions posed by the Facebook Live audience/participants.
  • Fielding LIVE questions and comments requires patience and tact.  The first time you attempt this you may want a team of 3 people assisting.  If your viewing device is mounted on a stand, two people should suffice.  You may need to delete someone who is being less than edifying during the LIVE portion.
  • Keep in mind that Facebook using an algorithm to determine who knows about and views your content.  Regularly engaging your online audience with polls, posts, information, photos will help them reach people who want to see your broadcast.  By creating a specific event via your group page or organization page will allow you to invite all your existing followers and you can set the event to be public or private.  Periscope is a platform that allows people to reach a broad…very broad group of people.  It is not as popular but is also an option.

Sample Feature Event posting:

Can’t make the meeting? West Seattle Bike Connections invites you to join us LIVE on Facebook!

Tune in via Facebook from 7:15 to 7:30 p.m. at our next membership meeting, we will be hearing from Dawn Schellenberg (Seattle Department of Transportation).  She will be providing us with the latest information on the Seattle Greenways Program.

Tune in and type in your questions and comments for Dawn.
This Tues. May 3, 2016