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6 More Expert Tips for Successful Streaming With Facebook Live

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As we start the new year, I predict that we’ll see a continued increase of live streaming on Facebook Live. For many groups, nonprofit organizations, and government departments, Facebook Live provides all of the tools necessary to organize a live-streaming event—an event calendar, publishing tools and APIs to get streams up and running, live interaction with audiences, and automatic archiving of the live stream for later viewing.

As I assist new and existing clients in the Facebook Live space, I encounter special situations quite frequently. I offered some advice a few months back, and here are more tips and recommendations to share:

1. Audio requirement: Given that the default behavior of Facebook video is to automatically play with muted audio in your news feed, I thought that a live stream published without an audio track wouldn’t be an issue. However, Facebook Live will not publish a live stream if there is no audio track present. Recently, with a nonprofit wilderness conservation group, I was asked to assist with an underwater live feed. There was no microphone or audio to carry with the live video image. In order to publish the feed, we added a silent, low-bitrate audio track. We were using FFmpeg to publish the RTMP feed, and silence was added by using the switches -f lavfi -i anullsrc after the video input switches.

2. Credential lockdown: In larger organizations where one or more administrators on a Facebook page manage contributors’ and editors’ access, make sure credentials are checked for validity in the hours leading up to a live-stream event. On more than one occasion with groups I’ve assisted, administrators had changed a point person’s access to a Facebook page. If possible, have a backup account ready that also has approval to publish a live stream.

3. Audio sampling rate consistency: If you are mixing multiple video sources into a live stream, make sure all sampling rates for the audio track match each other. If you initialize an RTMP stream with one sampling rate such as 44.1kHz and then switch to a 48.0kHz sampling rate, the audio pitch of the live stream will be adversely affected. Most, if not all, video mixing software such as vMix and Telestream Wirecast will resample all outbound audio sampling rates to a fixed rate, but server-side-based management of sources may not be able to resample audio rates on-the-fly.

4. Archival redundancy: Don’t rely solely on Facebook Live’s archive of a live stream. Always record to one or more locally attached storage devices. If any copyrighted music is detected in a live stream, Facebook Live’s processing engine may not allow the archive to publish after the event.

5. Active moderators: Most, if not all, live streams are going to have active online participants commenting on them. Some may post questions, expecting timely answers while the stream is happening. During your event preparation, make sure you’ve assigned more than one person to moderate and respond to the live commentary. Facebook Live enables administrators of Facebook pages and events to “post as” the page owner, instead of under the individual’s own Facebook account name. Don’t unnecessarily expose identities of individuals working for the organization in a live feed—give those admins authority to speak for the organization.

6. Proper planning: Determine the best way to find your audience. Many organizations are still learning how to use social media to expand their marketing reach. As such, initial forays into Facebook Live streaming may result in impromptu live sessions posted directly on the organization’s Facebook page without much notice to potential attendees. Depending on the size of your potential audience and the intention of your live stream, you may find it better to create an event on your Facebook page. By creating an event ahead of your intended livestream time, you can gauge audience participation by seeing who has marked themselves as Interested or Attending.

I fully expect Facebook Live to continue to thrive as a means to expand audience reach and awareness. I won’t be surprised to see more innovative features in the coming year.

[This article appears in the January/February 2018 issue of Streaming Media Magazine as "More Facebook Live Lessons."]

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