Facebook leaders surprised the world by announcing on April 6 that live video had been made available in all Facebook pages groups. Cue the applause — and every conceivable emoji — as social media managers let that big news soak in.
Facebook isn’t the first to offer live stream video. Periscope (the go-to streaming tool for Twitter) and Meerkat, hit the scene in March 2015 and quickly established the next level of engagement. After all, live stream video offers real-time interaction and organic engagement unlike anything we’ve seen before. But Facebook’s announcement changed the game. Facebook, after all, is the largest and most active platform — by a long shot — for social engagement.
For school systems, this news offers the biggest chance yet to showcase the great things happening in our classrooms and buildings. Pep rallies, award presentations, science fairs, prize patrols…now observers outside our schools can experience in real time the dynamic, supportive learning environments that we enjoy each day. Consider, as well, that live video allows parents to be a fly on the wall during a special activity, student presentation and even the occasional everyday classroom moment. Can’t make it to the special science presentations at 2 p.m. or the choir concert at 7 p.m.? If a parent can get an Internet connection, it won’t be missed.
Like so many other new frontiers, live video is one that we explore as we go. Here are guidelines and tips to consider as you broadcast on Facebook, or on any other live video platform:
- Ensure that you have the policies and procedures in place to manage the risks of social media engagement, and consider a bit of professional development to prep your teachers about the world of live video.
- Legal restrictions for performances still apply with live video. Whether it’s a second grade music concert or a high school dance team performance, the vast majority of popular songs are protected by copyright law.
- Perfection is never the goal, but quality makes a difference. If possible, use a tripod (or a gimbal if you’re moving) to stabilize the video. Using an external microphone, rather than your phone’s built-in mic, will greatly improve your audio.
- Practice helps. Don’t wait until the big moment to learn how to work the live stream process. Test it out on your own personal account — your personal Facebook friends are likely a more sympathetic audience than your district’s thousands of followers!
- Like any other post, Facebook live video will archive to your Facebook page, group or event. You may only have a half dozen live viewers, but your views and engagement will balloon over the next few hours. Facebook has made it clear that live video will rank well in news feeds, and that certainly appears to be true.
Finally, remember that broadcasting live video will require a strong signal on your phone or tablet. For an award presentation or other short, special event, planning ahead will help you avoid disappointment. Visit the place where you’ll be, check out your cellular bars and wifi signal, and consider a private hot spot if you’re concerned about signal strength. And if things go south in the moment, remember to switch your device over to the trusty video camera. After all, better to capture a special moment on traditional video and upload it to your social feeds, than to miss it completely.