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Expert Tips for Creating a Better Facebook Live Experience

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Clients who produce live events frequently ask me to also provide alternate feeds to Facebook Live and occasionally to YouTube Live. Typically, my implementation has the initial outbound stream from the live venue published to a streaming server that pushes the stream from the server to a specific Facebook destination such as a timeline, group, event, or page. Here’s a short list of some of the questions/ issues I consider when prepping to stream in a social media context.

Creative Solutions for Multiple Live Feeds

If you only require a single live feed for your Facebook audience, native apps will be the most efficient solution. Facebook Live has some great features, and there are free alternatives such as Open Broadcaster Software, available at obsproject.com.

When my clients want to push a live stream to multiple outlets but we have limited outbound bandwidth at the event venue, I use Wowza Streaming Engine (WSE) to handle all the routing of live streams. Many of my clients have existing Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) ingest workflows that use WSE. Adding a stream target for Facebook Live allows you to automatically publish specific stream IDs to a Facebook Live destination. In my onsite workflow, the output from my camera or video mixer feeds to an RTMP-based H.264 hardware encoder such as the Teradek Cube, AJA HELO, or similar device. This device then pushes the live stream to a WSE server instance. This server can provide a direct stream to my client’s web or mobile apps, as well as handle the output to Facebook Live. With the server as the go-between, I only need enough bandwidth to route one stream to the server, which has more than enough bandwidth allocation to route SD and HD streams to multiple locations.

Quality Control Options

I test the available bandwidth at the venue as much as possible to determine the highest bitrate and quality I can push to Facebook Live. One handy feature of Facebook’s native publishing tools is that you can enable HD Upload in your user or application settings of the mobile app. HD Upload automatically replaces the recorded live stream on Facebook with a higher-quality version stored locally on your device. This version is uploaded after you end the live stream and post to the page. All of the viewer commentary and feedback is kept intact during the swap.

You can accomplish similar results with third-party publishing tools by removing the archived Facebook version of the live event and posting your own edit from locally recorded sources, but you’ll lose the commentary from the original live stream recorded by Facebook.

Ensuring Proper Security Measures

Unless you are the regular administrator for a Facebook destination, you will need to arrange access with your client. Do not ask for their own private credentials for their Facebook account. A far more secure route is to have them add your Facebook account to their page, group, or event settings, and provide posting privileges. Later, your client can remove your access.

Avoiding Accidental Copyright Infringement

Some events I’ve worked on have played copyrighted music over the PA system during breaks, introductions to speakers, or awards ceremonies. While you probably can stream uninterrupted to Facebook during the live event, it’s likely that Facebook’s automation systems will detect the copyrighted music in the audio channel in post-processing and will not allow the content to be archived on Facebook. Work with your client early to make sure royalty-free music is used during any live-stream push.

Working through these topics with your client in advance of a live event will ensure that expectations are met and that you can deliver the best-quality viewing experience during the live feed and for archived content as well.

[This article appears in the September 2017 issue of Streaming Media Magazine as "Tips for a Better Facebook Live Experience."]

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